Tough Guys Wear Pink
by Stephen M. Feest
(Published in Out & Allied: An Anthology of Performance Pieces Written by LGBTQ Youth & Allies. 2nd Edition, 2014. http://bit.ly/oabooks)
If tough guys wear pink does it matter what the other guys think? Maybe it isn’t whether they wear pink but that they wear it tough. Emotions, fears, pain; a man is tough when he hides all that stuff. Walkin’ around with that gansta swagger, lookin’ at someone like me, in the eyes of traditional masculinity. Your smirk and your words don’t faze me, ’cause when it comes to your opinion, I agree. If tough guys wear pink then I wear blue. Wearing a mask that hides who I am inside isn’t something I aspire to. In your segment of the population I’m the in-your-face truth. Standing here taking your insults like bullets, I’m a queer youth.
If tough guys wear pink does that mean that they reject the cliché that guys who wear pink are usually gay? What if you’re not only gay but genderqueer, androgynous and have gender flexibility? Maybe you hold hostility out of jealousy for my ability to express versatility in liquid gender form. I have the ability to transform norms and reform conformity. But every time I learn that there are still people out there like Sally Kern, who’ve crossed the point of no return, it’s like a cigarette burn to my pride. To be spurned and cast aside, denied my humanity under so-called Christianity. And without concern they cast their eyes from my friends who continue to commit suicide. I see you gaze upon me, head-to-toe scan. A smirk on your face, somehow you find distaste in who I am.
If tough guys wear pink do they stop and think why someone like me is such a threat to their masculinity? Tough guys are usually the gay bashers, dripping our blood on the cold concrete when inside their thoughts and emotions leave them incomplete. Why must I be beaten in the back streets, where every walk home is trick or treat? What is it that makes you a man? Is it part of God’s plan? For the Bible tells me so, is that how you know? To decide who is a friend or a foe? Maybe I’m your bro or just some John Doe. But why must I be discreet and defeated, retreat and deleted from this world? To be a piece of trash for the trash can, simply for being who I am: a gay man.
It just so happens God and I have been tight since birth; he’s continued to help me through hell on earth. I’ve been on the operating table so many times, that God has had his chance but he declined. So I must be on his good side, allowed a little pride, to know inside that he’s my guide and there isn’t any man who’s gonna tell me how to live right. ’Cause God and I are tight.
If tough guys wear pink, then they should stop and think that one day they would have been brutalized, for representing something slightly feminine risking being cast aside, for breaking the limits of traditional masculinity, and being free to express themselves individually.
If tough guys wear pink then they should realize the evolution of progress and honor those who are brave enough to address the limits of sexuality and gender in the face of protest. And be impressed with the finesse that people like me possess when faced with hate for choosing to follow what happens to be innate.
(Editor’s note: See actor Nate Speckman perform for TEDxDirigo!)