I am a man. No doubt about it. I love being a man, and I’ve always been happy that I am a man. I’ve never aspired to be a woman; it’s just not in my DNA. I like all my parts: my penis, my muscles, my stature, and my strength. I like my testosterone-driven, competitive nature. I like my running speed. I like my swimming prowess.
Yes, of course, a woman can be fast, competitive, strong, and muscular. There are champion swimmers and runners who are woman. I look up (literally) to many of them. But I don’t want to be a woman. I am a card-carrying man.
Small detail: I’m a gay man. This immediately raises suspicion among many of my fellow men about just how much of a man I really am They’ve all seen Birdcage and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. They’ve been to West Hollywood and the Castro. They’ve seen Pride Parades on the news. They assume that because I’m gay I’m less of a man. Screw them (not literally), I am a man, through and through. Wearing rainbow beads around my neck or the occasional pink shirt over my six-pack abs and chiseled pecs does not change that. I can camp it up at a party with my best Cher impersonation, and I can tell you the first and last names of all of The Real Housewives (of any city), and I know every word of every ABBA song. It doesn’t matter. I am a man.
Being so much of a man, you’d think that I’d be spending a lot of my time with like-minded men who enjoy similar things, and then relaxing in my man cave. But this is not the case. At almost every turn in my life I have instead found myself in a sea of women, dripping with estrogen. It’s mind-boggling! It’s not something I ever planned. Here are a few of those turns.
“I like my testosterone-driven, competitive nature.”
“Small detail: I’m a gay man.”
I was popular and involved in almost every extracurricular activity and club: Boy Scouts, football, Rotary Club, and Student Council, to name a few. My guy friends thought I was funny, entertaining, ambitious, and cool, but they couldn’t get close to me. I was always surrounded by a gaggle of girls who wanted to comb my hair and massage my neck. Maybe they were up for a date (I was way, way in the closet in high school) or needed some help with their homework (I wasn’t valedictorian but pretty darn close). Whatever the reason, girls were drawn to me and I enjoyed their company.
My Chosen Profession
Although my first dream was to be a professional triathlete, I settled on competing as a top age-group athlete after earning only $54 in prize money my first year out of college. Instead, I became a physical therapist—a career that I’ve found so fun, rewarding, and a great fit for my healthy lifestyle. However, I had to laugh when I walked into the classroom on day 1 and found that most of my classmates were female. Turns out, I’d chosen a profession in which, like nursing, most of the workforce are women, and in which the men who enter the profession are seen as groundbreakers.
I was fine with it, since I still had hair that needed to be combed and a neck that liked massaging. I was exiting but not quite out of the closet, so I might have been seen as a challenge to some women. Women make excellent study partners as well.
“Despite the fight for equality for women, and despite the increased acceptance of men in roles traditionally held by women, the world we live in is still very lopsided.”
After two decades as a physical therapist, who knew that I would leave the profession (for now, at least) and become a stay-at-home dad? My life would now be filled with Mommy and Me classes (all mommies), Stroller Strides (women pushing strollers for exercise), shopping (women everywhere), and school and activity sign ups (apparently only moms do paperwork). I’d set up play dates for my kids’ friends with their friend’s moms. I’d share a park bench with a boatload of nannies (and every single one of them a woman.) I’d find myself on the phone with women, getting advice on the proper care and feeding of a baby, and at times the proper care and feeding of a husband. Every once in awhile I would take a peek down the inside of my pants, just to make sure that I was still a man.
I find myself missing my gay guy friends, who have long disappeared after wishing me luck with my family. I also miss the attention that was given to my hair (since I have much less) and my neck (since I’m a married man with kids). Life is much different. All of my friends are parents now. Most are married, and their husband comes around for the fun (party or dinner or event) only if my husband is available. Otherwise it’s just me and the ladies. Ladies’ night out. Nothing like it.
My three boys are getting bigger—for the first time they will all be at the same elementary school. And I love our current school! I’ve been volunteering in the classroom and with the PTA, but I’m ramping up: I’m on a trajectory to become the first male PTA president at this school. But I have attended many meetings so far where I am the only male in the group. Yep, a roomful of women and me. You’d think I would be used to it by now, but it never ceases to amaze me. Despite the fight for equality for women, and despite the increased acceptance of men in roles traditionally held by women, the world we live in is still very lopsided. And this gay stay-at-home dad/physical therapist/triathlete is enjoying it, one groundbreaking day at a time.