You see, a virtuous male in his friends’ eyes was a man who possessed dominance and control, who related to women as objects, designed to cater for a mans every need. Confused at how someone so tall could lack this kind of masculinity, ??lan’s friends made it clear to him that being gay was not an option. ??lan’s carefree nature created a rubber glue relationship with these friends. They became threaten by ??lans ability to reject the comments and provide a mirror of reflection to each of them. And out of fear, they continued to tear down the mirror Alan was presenting to them.
Drowning in a sea of social norms and suffocating in the crowded spaces of society expectations, how are we expected be ourselves when we are hiding behind this constant pressure, the pressure to be beautiful, the pressure to be youthful, and the pressure to be straight? It’s as though society expects us to fix ourselves. Change, for the sake of staying the same. The strange thing Is, In ??lan’s case, his behavior was a Rorschach of his friends’ own ears and Insecurities. Alan didn’t care that he was being referred to as gay, because Alan knew he wasn’t.
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He knew that he had no Issues of Identity, and he knew Just where he belonged – he belonged on a table at lunchtime, centimeters across from his female best friends. But for ??lan’s friends, this may not have been the case, his platonic behavior towards these women, offered a mirror of parts of themselves they didn’t want to see. When Alan reached year 12, there was a formal. A formal where traditionally girls invite boys and boys invite girls. Alan entered with one of the girls from the swimming team, along with his friend, who brought one of the girls from the schools dance club.
But halfway through the dance, ??lan’s friend had a question he’d been dying for Alan to answer. So via a tug on the arm, Alan was pulled into the middle of the dance floor, confused by the urgency to chat. ??lan’s friend held him by the arm, drawing him closer then whispering, “Alan, I Like you, do you like me too? ” was held, and the question that ??lans friend was so desperate to ask had become fueled on the way from his lips to ??lans ears, like a kind of Chinese whisper. Alan replied, “Thanks mate, I like your shoes too,” and it became clear to his friend that it was no place to be whispering.
One by one, ??lan’s three friends began to become more and more like the persona they had created of Alan in their minds, and as those teens stepped over the mop bucket, and untangled themselves from the vacuum cord. They curled their fingers around the handle of the door, and emerged from the same closet that big gay AH was once thought to have hidden. They were three teenagers who had once been trapped in fear, in a world where being gay meant hiding behind a shield and firing bullets at the nearest convenient target.
Three teenagers, once drowning in the pressure to be the same, had seen in ??lan’s behavior a scarring reflection of what they feared was inside them. And so this behavior set an example for the friends, his actions proving that our best protection from societies pressures is to be who we are and stay true to what we know. This influence created spaces for these teens, to let go of the ability to are, and to break down the walls put up to protect themselves, allowing them to step forward and lock the cupboard door for good.
Perhaps these social norms we build as a society are not at all for the desire to be the same, but the need protect ourselves. Shielding us from the threat of instability, unpredictability, uncertainty, we protect ourselves by projecting our own fears into others. Concepts such as masculinity and femininity thus become a general form of armor for people to wear in order to make their worlds seem more certain, even when their worlds on the inside are very different.