©2019 by Tim Steppich.

  • Tim Steppich

Men, Homosexuality, and the Feminine Side

Updated: Nov 21, 2019

In this article, I like address a topic that many men think about but rarely discuss: The way they feel about, and sometimes fear, their feminine side. I have had this conversation extesively in Brazil and therefore, would like to share some of my thoughts and experiences. I hope I will make you reflect on insecurities and stereotypes about sexuality and the status quo of being a "real man" in the 21st century, and how they have affected your behaviour and thinking throughout your life. Hopefully, it provokes some thoughts and conversations between you and the people around you.


Are You "Gay"?

What’s “gay”? Who is gay? What does that even mean? Are you gay if you like hugging your mates just as much as hugging a woman? Or if you cry watching a romantic movie? Is it “gay” to cry? What does “a gay person” look like? Am I maybe gay and I don’t know it? What would happen if I was gay? What would my parents think? Or worse - what would my friends think? Would my best friend stay my best friend? Or would it be weird for him and we'd go our seperate ways? Even though I knew I loved girls already from an early age on, I had these questions in my head. Later, I realized I wasn't the only one, and every country I went to, I met people having those same thoughts, even though they loved women, why is that?


In 2017 I moved to Argentina, and Argentinian culture is a great example for what I'll talk about. Why? Because in Argentina guys kiss guys to say hi, just like they kiss girls. I got used to kissing good friends just as much as my Uber driver, and I even kissed the president of River Plate (one of the top footbal clubs), who apparently is the only person in this country you cannot kiss, but that's another story. Like most Germans who come to Argentina for the first time, I was irritated, uncomfortable, and surprised at first. But why is it weird to kiss another guy on the cheek? I would kiss a girl that I don’t find attractive on the cheek, I would kiss my mom on the cheek, and I'm generally a huggy guy who doesn't mind body contact, so why is this an issue?


Some people say it’s because they're attracted to women and not men. Sometimes we say that it's "just a culture thing" and we’re simply used to handshakes and hugs. Well, I disagree!


The Word Gay

When I grew up, many of my friends used the word gay for pretty much everything, generally something negative. I really got used to do so as well, simply not realizing how offensive it is and how it discriminates the people around me from expressing their sexuality. The word is used this way in Germany, it’s used like that in the English language, and especially in Colombia, where "marica" is used as an equivalent to the word "bro" but also means "faggot". So, all around the world, people use the word "gay" for things that have nothing to do with sexuality, and mostly, we use it for something negative. So are we just bad people who want to discriminate others around us? No, of course not, but it says a lot about our culture.


How Does Your Culture Affect Your Sexuality?

Germany is a great example of the underlying problem, because Germans drink a lot. What does that have to do with sexuality? Well, when guys drink, social barriers fall. We hug, we give compliments to one another, we say how much we value each other, and sometimes, we even get kisses on the cheek and something like "I love you man".


The next day, everything is back to normal. The compliments stick with us but they're not mentioned again (until the next night out). We all feel good when a friend gives us a hug and tells us how important the friendship is to them and we all enjoy being complimented by our friends, but often, we struggle to express those friendly feelings with each other. Why?


Being raised in Germany, I got different toys than my sister, I wore different colours than her, and it is quite common for guys to get a different treatment by their parents than girls do. There is a saying in German: “boys don’t cry”; it is the typical thing to say when a child falls and is about to burst in tears. It's something we say without paying attention to the underlying message: "only girls show such emotions, guys don't!"


I also experienced that it is quite common that parents laugh and joke when their boy plays with a barbie and the girl wants to become the soccer player. The girl playing soccer might be more accepted by now, but a boy playing with his sister's barbie frequently leads to jokes.


So, if parents tell their sons not to cry and make jokes when they behave like girls, what will the reaction be? More than that, if our parents, who love us more than anything, still laugh at us, how would other people react?


The just mentioned examples i.a. demonstrate that there is a certain fear among boys of coming off as too feminine and this has probably been passed on from generation to generation. Parents think to be open-minded about their children's sexuality, but a study by Solebello and Elliott in 2011 found that parents, especially fathers, still prefer for their sons to be heterosexual and actively push heterosexuality for them. I don't have to explain why this is not healthy for the children, especially if they are indeed homosexual.


How do Homosexual Men Feel?

Some men already know their sexual orientation when they are young and some only realize later what they like and what they don't. I have met many homosexual men in different countries and from diverse backgrounds and love hearing their stories.


I’ve met people who like to dress as divas, people who had really hard times growing up, people who considered suicide because of their sexuality, and others whose parents were really supportive. I have also met people who questioned if they were actually homosexual, just because they were afraid of other people's reactions, and pushing aside the truth for years. Others again struggled to understand what it really means to and about them because of the general negative perception that still prevails.


So, traveling the world I realized that even in the 21st century, it can still be incredibly tough for homosexual men to express their sexuality freely. It is clear that the situation is not as it should be for homosexual men, but, to shift the focus to a rather uncommon topic, what does this cause for heterosexual men?


All Men are Feminine

Many times I’ve been asked by women and men if I am gay. Asking back it turns out that being able to openly talk about feelings, being able to have close friendships with an attractive woman, and being that person that hugs everyone made me seem more feminine, and feminine - to many people – means homosexual.


Looking at the reasons why people sometimes ask whether if I am homosexual makes me strive to be more like that person. Because all of these things are parts of my personality that I am proud of and want to embrace as much as possible. Being huggy, being the person that everyone can talk to, being someone to lean on, and just being a good friend to someone, even though you might find that person attractive - all this sounds like someone I want to be more.


Everyone has a masculine and a feminine side where certain attributes make you seem more masculine and others more feminine (of course this seperation is not a good thing). As a matter of fact, this is where a real problem arises: Men are reluctant to show their feminine side, because in our minds, being feminine is closely linked to homosexuality and, as a consequence, heterosexual men fear to face the same problems and struggles as homosexual men. This situation is absolutely unnecessary because all men are are feminine to a certain extent, and all men find other men attractive, no matter the sexuality.


You probably consider some of your friends to be more attractive and others less. It’s normal to find certain attributes and characteristics attractive. The misconception we tend to have is that we only find those attributes attractive for the opposite sex. Truth is, you probably consider some of your friends to be more attractive than others. We do not consider one friend to be more attractive because we know that girls like him, we do so because our brain finds certain attributes in a person stimulating, simple as that. This can be related to physical appearance, like the symmetry of someone's face, or it can be something about the other person's character, like charisma and intelligence.


So it's absolutely normal and natural to find people of the same and opposite sex attractive, but we do get uncomfortable telling each other. Or do you frequently tell a friend  that you find him beautiful and why? As mentioned before, this changes after a few beers in Germany, a few glasses of wine in Argentina, or a caipirinha in Brazil (one is enough). Saying such things is not really a part of our culture yet, at least not on a regular (and sober) basis, and I feel like that is something that needs to be changed for all men to get more comfortable with their personal attributes and attractions.


Embrace Your Feminine Side!

In my opinion, we all need to try to be our authentic self and it is a long way to really find out all about ourselves. If you as a guy want to tell a good friend how important he is to you, what you like about him, that you think he is good-looking, and so on, then you should just do so. If he gives you a strange look, then just explain how you mean it. If you're afraid of telling people that you love them, because they've always been there for you, or because you see them like a brother then just go ahead and tell them exactly what you're afraid of and why, you won’t get a negative response but probably one of the best conversations you've ever had, and a closer relationship.


Don’t be afraid of saying or being a way that other people might possibly confuse for something else. If you’re into men, I’m sure you’ll know that and if you’re not into men, you’ll notice that just as much. The best friendships I have are those which let me honestly express every thought, doubt and feeling I have. I would never want to be the guy who hugs my heterosexual friends with more passion than my friends who like men, and I'll never want to become a father and secretly be more open toward a heterosexual than a homosexual son.


I’m convinced that, if every men honestly told his friends, parents, and family about his doubts and fears in terms of his sexuality, then so many tight and important relationships would be formed, amazing conversations would be sparked, and as a result, homosexual men might finally live in a society that is truly accepting and inclusive.


These are my thoughts and experiences and I hope they spark some great conversations. If you liked it, feel free to share it with your friends and family, especially those who you know struggle with such issues. If you hated it or have a question, then please leave some feedback, either in the comments, via the chat function, or via e-mail.


Much love

Tim


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