I’m still a man…
Coming to terms with myself
Lately, I’ve been having trouble shaving.
When I was a kid I used to watch a show called Family Matters (better known as the Steve Urkel show) every morning when I got ready for school. One line from that show has stuck with me every day since I first heard it. “I can’t shave with my eyes closed.”
The father on the show was a cop and he said this to a man who was offering him a bribe. He elaborated that as a man you have to look yourself in the mirror every day when you shave and it gets pretty difficult when you aren’t proud of what you see. This quote has influenced a lot of the big decisions in my life, I even have a tattoo on my leg in honor of the quote.
I’ve been questioning some of my own decisions as of late and it makes it hard to look in the mirror.
That’s because I have something that’s been weighing on me heavily. My fingers are shaking just typing this.
For some people, they might think this means I’m attracted to everybody I meet. I’m not. I see my male friends as just that, friends. I don’t have any desire to “get with them.” When I’m chilling with my buddies, my sexuality is the furthest thing from my mind. I know some people won’t understand that but I just hope my friends do.
This isn’t something that was easy to understand myself so I don’t blame anyone who doesn’t get it.
Growing up, I had a fairly generic idea of what it means to be a man. I got into sports at a young age. I always wanted to help my dad with his tools. But I did those things because I enjoyed them, not because I thought I had to be a man.
I still do enjoy those things. I’m a sports writer and plan on making a career out of it. I’m not too bad with power tools. I spent my last birthday on a fishing trip with my dad and brother in law, fishing and drinking beer all day. I don’t know how to work on cars but that’s only because my dad doesn’t either. My fashion is boring, I mostly wear jeans and a t-shirt, maybe a flannel. I like music and hot women.
I thought hot women were part of being a man too. While I don’t necessarily consider that part of manhood anymore, I definitely still enjoy women. When I graduated high school, I dated a girl I thought I would marry. I moved into an apartment with her and envisioned the future. I chose to not tell her about my sexuality because it’s something I didn’t fully understand at the time. But I knew then and I know now that had no effect on our relationship. We split because we weren’t right for each other.
I wish I could tell the people reading this there was some moment when I finally knew that I was bisexual, but there really wasn’t. It’s not a light switch and it was a culmination of things over a long time period.
I can say I didn’t ever think about it before or during high school. The time following my break up was probably the first I began to really think about it.
I know a big moment that helped me a lot was Michael Sam, the first openly gay player ever drafted in professional sports, and his decision to come out. He put everything on the line to be comfortable with himself. And seeing him get drafted and celebrate with his family and kiss his boyfriend in front of a national audience taught me a lot.
I struggled and even still struggle with the idea of being attracted to both genders. There are days I wish it was just one or the other. It makes me nervous that my attraction to one will make me unattractive to the other. I know that some people will think it means I’m either gay or straight but that’s not the case.
Regardless, being a man is so much more than hobbies and sexuality. What made the father on Family Matters a man wasn’t the fact that he was married to a woman or liked sports, it was because he cared about his family. He provided for them. He loved them. He refused to compromise his values because it would have been a bad example for his kids. I just hope I can do half of that.
Being bi doesn’t change anything. I still want a family of my own one day and I plan on being a damn good husband and father to whomever that may be. I want a long and successful career and to be able to be a provider for my family. I want the same future that a lot of men want.
To my family and friends: when you finish reading this, I will still be the exact same person you knew before you started reading this. I’ve never done anything to hide this, I just never talked about it. I’m not going to be any different the next time you see me, I’ll just have 1000-pound weight off my back.
Before I wrap this up I would just like to thank my fellow member of The Spectrum, Maddy Fowler, for her fantastic column on bisexual stereotypes and her bravery in discussing it. It certainly helped me feel comfortable writing this.
I hope this column helps even just one person and will give them the confidence to feel like they don’t have to hide a part of themselves from the world.
Please reach out to me if you need someone to talk to about this, I know how nerve wrecking it is. I can’t say I know the fallout from here. I can’t even honestly say that I don’t expect to lose at least somebody in my life. What I can say is that I’m going to be able to shave with my eyes wide open and proud.
Daniel Petruccelli is the assistant sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org