My father shows definite signs of toxic masculinity.
Always with the "man up" or "toughen up"
I think he was afraid I was too sensitive.
When I was a kid, he told me it was okay to cry.
Then I guess I cried too much.
And it was no longer okay.
I learned to swallow my emotions,
Pills so big I thought I would choke.
My voice caught,
My feelings were strangled.
I learned, too, to listen and observe him more.
Yes, there was the homophobia,
There the unmistakable reek of feared emasculation,
The lines about how certain things were "effeminate,"
Including things like the way I sat,
Or wore my long hair,
In my own home, no less.
I don't think he thinks me very manly.
Never mind my compassion, loyalty, or steadfast, stubborn nature.
I've learned not to care so much what he thinks,
Though the very act of not caring hurts.
I'd like to be able to share who I am with him,
But I think he disapproves who I am,
The way I choose to live.
Never mind I am straight,
Though it would be no excuse if I were not.
Never mind I have a beard,
Though it would be no excuse if I were clean-shaven.
Never mind any of the qualities that I am,
Any of the things I am proud of,
Any of the reasons I call myself man.
To him, I am not masculine.
That knowledge sears like razor burn,
Leaves scarred tracts of pain and resentment.
Doth a man not bleed?
I suppose not.