So I was sitting at my desk minding my own business like I normally do (although I “observe” the goings on around me) and found myself in the middle of a very intriguing conversation I want to further explore with you.

The conversation was between a black heterosexual man and a black homosexual man about black male sexuality. The straight guy said the gay guy is the “straightest gay man” he knows. The gay guy asked him if he felt that way because he doesn’t exhibit feminine ways. It got me thinking: can a man have feminine ways without being accused of being gay?

The gay dude said straight dudes don’t leave room for a man to be feminine without being accused of being gay because feminine ways are considered weak in a man. But what is considered weak?

So a few days later a friend of mine called and told me she was basically not into this dude who was pushing up on her. I asked her why and she said he’s too effeminate for her taste. I asked her how and she said his mocking of women was a little too accurate. (He also rubbed her the wrong way by making too many “Shaquinta” jokes that belittled hood chicks. She found it disrespectful to women.)

While listening to her I realized I felt the same way and recalled how certain guys’ impersonations made me question their sexuality. We felt there’s a line we don’t want men to cross. But I started wondering whether it’s fair to put restrictions on a man’s manhood, and at the same time, wanting someone who honors the feminine Goddess – keeping with the belief (at least mine) that God is feminine and masculine. How can I on one hand say that’s what I want in a mate and then on the other hand question his manhood if he does?

I wonder how this affects black men defining their manhood and their ability to express themselves freely without fear of being called “soft.” And what is that?

I asked some folks their definition of soft and I got some pretty interesting answers.

A couple (straight) guys said being soft was lack of courage and strength, with one explaining it in football terms, which went completely over my head. But I think he meant it’s soft for a man to not go the distance, to be a quitter. A (gay) dude said he knows a straight dude, which he described as a metrosexual, who’s married with children. And when he’s at work he’s very aggressive, but outside of work, he’s a tad bit effeminate. He said he has two different sides and one is softer, but not weak. I even asked a woman and she said she defines a man being soft by being mentally and emotionally weak.

I know one male friend always says that men just want a soft place to go where they can be themselves without being judged or considered “soft.” Is this true? And what do men do if they don’t have that space?

Man, I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have the freedom to cry without being judged. I’m a black woman in America AND I believe in women’s empowerment AND the upliftment of all marginalized folks… This society will give you something to cry about with those kinds of values! I personally think all black folks need counseling and a good cry every now and then. But that’s another blog subject.

I know it’s a short blog this week, but I’m actually going to continue to explore this topic. I’d love to get your feedback.

Can a man have feminine ways without being accused of being gay? When do you think he crosses the line?

What traits make a man strong? What makes him “soft?”

This is definitely helping me understand how I view men, their manhood and what I need to change about myself in order to receive the love I want. I hope it helps you too.

To UTC readers: In all that we seek to be or do or have, we humbly realize that in the Presence is our power to think, our very thought of aspiration, our will to commence, our strength to keep on, our power to achieve, and the glory of all our accomplishments. This is the Truth and it is now done. ~ A prayer from “Discover the Power Within You”

Envisioning you with much love, light and fulfillment. See you next week.

Yaminah Ahmad is editor-in-chief of The Atlanta Voice and contributing editor to Collective Voices, a newspaper published by the non-profit, SisterSong: Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective. More information on the group can be found at www.sistersong.net. Ahmad can be reached at missyaminah@gmail.com.

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September 19th, 2008 at 12:35 am nicq says:

whoa..good point? i feel bad because i was put in that same situation recently..except the dude said i offended him

September 19th, 2008 at 12:49 am renep says:

It is certainly a double standard for men. While I say I want a man who shows his feelings and I don’t want him crying all over me neither

September 19th, 2008 at 9:04 am Philip Giddings says:

This is a tough one. It goes way back to childhood and how men are raised that there basically one dimensional way of demonstrating manhood. No crying, no “tipping” and stuff like that. I think everyone has both sides but the homosexuals have it really bad in society

September 19th, 2008 at 9:08 am thelma says:

all blacks folks DO need counseling I totally agree with you on that one. All that we have been through and just to keep holding it in is not healthy

September 19th, 2008 at 9:14 am BLACK MARKET says:

men with femininity is a no no

September 19th, 2008 at 9:41 am Stephanie says:

In the Black community I think it is not possible for a man to be feminine ways and not be called gay. It is just our culture. I dated a guy and just because he dressed really well he had to go through being called gay and it really messed with his self esteem. It was sad.

September 19th, 2008 at 9:51 am lilmamma86 says:

Amen to this..ive seen some of the most “straight” gay men ever…all gay men dont have a dolce bag and prada glasses on remember that!

September 19th, 2008 at 10:10 am culturepop says:

This is a issue that goes very deep and you are right. The woman want sensitivity but their male definition of it, not the reality. If a man identifies and maybe cries with his woman, all of a sudden he is suspect. Can’t win for losin

September 19th, 2008 at 10:37 am Krista Wills says:

I need to take a moment a think of my response. I think the down low thing has women running from any sign of being well groomed or showing some emotions

September 19th, 2008 at 11:02 am BRUH MAN says:

Women a man that is weak is not going to be able to support you when you need it period

September 19th, 2008 at 11:13 am Lottie Markus says:

I like my man in touch with his emotions but I admit it is a fine line that perhaps is not all that clearly defined

September 19th, 2008 at 11:43 am Mr.Fantastic says:

Wow this is crazy because i just found out one of my old teammates was gay and i would have never expected him to be!

September 19th, 2008 at 11:52 am Tina says:

I think there is a difference between being sensitive and being feminine. A man doesn’t have to be feminine to be sensitive just like a woman doesn’t have to be masculine to be strong. If a man, any man acts too feminine I have to think twice.

September 19th, 2008 at 12:30 pm heatmizer says:

@Tina right on! You said it perfectly

September 19th, 2008 at 2:03 pm Commadore says:

real men know who they are
that may be controversial but its true

September 19th, 2008 at 2:19 pm kingly says:

The idea of a man that gets his groom on being less manly than a blue collar brother is simply absurd

September 19th, 2008 at 3:33 pm 2know2love says:

its too scary to even risk it i’m sorry i don’t want to come home and find my man in bed with another man

September 19th, 2008 at 3:36 pm buttabrown says:

I think there is just too much pressure on men period especially when it comes to who’s a man or not. Hell gay men are men too!

September 19th, 2008 at 5:25 pm Nicole Malave says:

Women have it good we can have our emotions all over the place and its accepted but heaven help the hysterical male LOL

September 19th, 2008 at 5:37 pm Ashley says:

I don’t know about ya’ll but I like a metro man. There ain’t nothing wrong with a well groomed, good smelling man!!

September 19th, 2008 at 5:57 pm pmatters says:

I have to admit I like them rough around the edges so I am defiantly one who gets suspect. I am going to have to stop doing that. Sometime you just don’t realize how you can really hurt someone.

September 19th, 2008 at 7:45 pm Elsa Harkins says:

I got to agree with Kingly here

September 19th, 2008 at 9:17 pm Destah Owens says:

@kingly: good point. You don’t have to be sloppy to be straight.

@yaminah: a man is strong that stands by his convictions even when they are not popular or easy to make.A man is strong that will work hard to provide, even if he doesn’t like what he’s doing (but he’s got to put that food on the table). A man is strong that will let his mate spread her wings and pursue her career and not feel like his little money is second rate.

As far as when one’s effeminate ways cross the line? That’s a tough one, but here’s an example. I was once at a gathering where all the homeys were sittin’ around at a barbecue, playing playstation, drinkin’ brews and this one cat was playing felix unger and trying to serve everyone and was straightening up (and it wasn’t his crib) and not engaging in any of the trash talk of all of the Madden participants. Basically, he had everyone else in the room on edge and most wanted to just tell him to sit down and man up! (As was articulated by ALL when he finally left).

September 20th, 2008 at 6:58 am joe blow says:

trust your intuition there is such a fine line a man that is really in touch with his feelings was just raised different than the average bear and that don’t make him gay

September 20th, 2008 at 8:00 pm culturepop says:

tough road to hoe for any man

September 21st, 2008 at 11:56 am chica22 says:

Destah, amen amen and amen.

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