Revealing Men podcast host, Randy Flood, psychotherapist and Director of the Men’s Resource Center of West Michigan says, “when I grew up there were two things that a man should not be: a gay male or a woman. Stop acting like a gay man. Stop acting like a lady. Get back in the box and be a real man.” In his practice, Flood councils many men who have experienced trauma and emotional damage caused by not being able to express the full scope of who they are. Maybe they’ve questioned their masculinity or their masculinity has been questioned, challenged, or denied only because they don’t fit the cultural stereotype of a “real man.”
When he sits down to speak with his former college roommate, publisher and Lifestyle Editor for Rapid Growth Media, Tommy Allen, the two have an unbridled conversation about first kisses, proms, college mascots, outrageous clothing, and – most poignantly – about what it was like for Allen to be “outside the box” as a young man and to navigate a world in which he wasn’t able to fully reveal his true self. Allen is an artist and comedian whose journey as a queer man coming out in the 1980s could also be the story of many men— queer or not— who grapple with their own sense of identity because of societal expectations about masculinity.
Some of the questions that might spark from the conversation include “what does masculinity look like?” “Does it have the capacity to be many things across a wide spectrum?” “Who gets to decide?” and, “How are things changing for the better?” Allen predicts, “I really believe that we are probably within 30 years, if even that, where this idea of male and female gender is gonna become much more complex…. I kept hearing the concept that there’s 500 points of a person that they [Facebook] track and I’m sure it’s even more now, but in that moment, I’m more than just a binary. I do see hope in the future. That the binary will be broken and that people will reject those kinds of labels.” And, in rejecting labels, we will free one another to live our life to its fullest.
If this podcast (available on podcast platforms including Apple, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher) resonates with you and inspires you to work to find your authentic self, please visit the counseling services page on the Men’s Resource Center website and learn more about men’s support groups where safe spaces are created and lives are changed. Also, feel free to reach out to the Men’s Resource Center through the website or call us at (616) 456-1178 if you have questions about this segment, ideas for a topic, or would like to be a guest on the Revealing Men podcast.