Don’t get me wrong, I think all males are magical and amazing. Cis gender, trans, gay, straight, bi… unicorn… I don’t care males are magical. No more magical than women, queer or non-binary, but magical. Well, I guess this whole paragraph could be summed up in a single statment; every human being and unicorn is amazing and magical.
However, in conversion therapy’s exgay ministry world, the straight male was held up as a beacon of light through tumultuous waters. He was the role model of gender complementarity, head of the household, a born leader, assertive and sometimes aggressive. He was aware of his penis and did not worship his own or others. But, if he hasn’t named it… he will… because ::: manly chuckle ::: all healthy heterosexual men name there penis. Yes, all those caught in the cult of stigma that declared gay men as inferior, the straight man was the SuperMan of our heterosexual potential!
Or as reality would have it … not.
So many ministries try to incorporate the “ever-straights” into their programs with the idea that these men were innately more emotionally/relationally healthy than us poor gay/bi/trans ones. Of course… of course! They had issues and who knew why their sins developed in lust for women/sex/power/greed/anger/hedonism/secular music … etc … instead of men but they could “relate” to us because we are “all on level ground at the foot of the cross.” Now when we stood up, they enjoyed the pedastel above the “sexually broken in unique ways” rest of us they didn’t and don’t deserve.
Even back then I caught on pretty quickly that the great straight man was not living up to the role he was supposed to model. One guy obviously trying to make up for some sort of masculine deficit said, “Man, I don’t know why God spared me the shame of being gay, but I am just as f*cked up as you are!” I responded with a chuckle, “no, I think you are more f*cked up than I am.” We both laughed but I meant it and with the side-eye he gave me, he knew it.
The truth is, that was completely unfair to the straight guys roped into and held captive in that world as it was to the “participants” in the programs being told they were there to help us realize our hetero potential. They were supposed to help us desensitize our sexualization of masculinity and see how not that different we are. However, all this did was make matters worse and create all kinds of incredibly unhealthy power dynamics, emotional dependency, and cement very unhealthy gender stereotypes and legalistic expectations in the name of biblical masculinity.
What I have learned is that a healthy view of one’s gender (or nonbinary, queer, intersex etc) is not worried about how others express or represent themselves. Healthy acceptance of self means I don’t need another person who is probably just as f*cked up as a role model toward some ideal.
Truthfully, I can glean wisdom from everyone. I can also find something in everyone’s life experience that I probably wouldn’t want to emulate. That’s the nature of being human and not a one of us is any better at being human than anyone else.
For me, I am and my faith is the beacon of light in tumultuous waters. All humans are infinite sources of complementarity to one another if we look for the good in others through the filter of humility. The ultimate act of healthy assertiveness, interdependence and leadership is to take personal responsibility to live our best lives as we see fit.