Anthony Carter

The Self Esteem Our Precious Young Boys Need to Thrive

Filed By Anthony Carter | March 22, 2011 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, The Movement
Tags: gender assignment, gender roles, self esteem

To all the boys who may or may not be queer. The boys picked last in sports but first for the latest in fashion, entertaining, and bullyfreezone.jpgtasteful decorating. The boys who couldn't catch a football but instead could clean a bathroom until it sparkles and offer serious, heartfelt care to a sick sibling.

I salute you.

I salute us. In this culture, our gifts go unrecognized or at worse, get criticized and mocked. I salute all the boys like me who were different. Yes, we are here to stay and more importantly will be leading the revolution when the time comes.

Did I mention the time is now?

We are through waiting patiently for the all powerful "they," whoever the they happens to be this week, to allow us the privilege to "be." We have been quietly watching from the sidelines learning to survive a very hostile world that is not ready for us.

However, no one is ever fully ready for change. It pretty much sneaks up on you.

As a young boy and now older adult, I have spent my life seeking kindness. I witness so much cruelty, domination, and coercion in the world.

What are boys and men like me to do if there is no urge to dominate or be dominated?What to do when we would rather a great conversation and a cup of coffee than an opportunity to one up a friend or colleague?

In this world, the thinking man is a problem man. As a person seeking kindness, it becomes difficult to hold out for this seemingly unattainable entity. It seems almost an impossibility trying to survive amidst a world that seems so set on destroying everything that you are.

Almost impossible is not the same as impossible.

Those of us who have survived childhood and didn't give into the self-hatred that is so seductive when you don't toe the line, know a thing or two about not only surviving but thriving. Within the harshest of circumstances, human beings hunger for and create beauty.

As a man/boy learns to thrive beyond a prescribed masculinity, we totally thrive by repeatedly creating beauty.

Our refusal to stop being, doing, and developing the things that sustain us is the most important step in revolutionizing our thinking, our relationships and our planet.

Hurray for the assholes that bullied us and bravo to all the young males who survived it, didn't recreate it, and learned how to not stop simply because a wall of shit fell on their heads.

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But what words of advice do you have for the adult men who are still enduring the same taunts and bigotry? It's not just a problem our youth face.

I would additionally add, what about girls and women who continue to suffer bullying not only under heterosexism, but also through misogyny and homophobia?

I salute them, also.

Rick Sutton | March 22, 2011 9:55 AM

Oh, Anthony, you know I love you more than my luggage, but in case you didn't know: school-age athletic gays are targeted, too. Sometimes, in an even-more cruel manner.

Our kids need to get the message: it's not right to taunt anyone. Period. Ever. It diminishes the taunter as much as the may take longer, but it never works out well for either end of the taunting/bullying spectrum.

God love all kids. They need positive role models--straight and gay. Who don't bully or force their opinions on others.

I'm pondeirng this today: do teenage bullies grow up to be legislator bulllies? No answer...just thinking.

Just ask Maggie Gallagher and Tony Perkins.

There is another option to just taking bullying. I tended to fight back at times. Sometimes I fought back very intellectually but I tended to fight. Numerous bullies learned the hard way to leave me alone for their own safety.
And none of my sons have ever been beaten up by a bully though a couple of them have stomped bullies into the ground.
One cop here in town asked me if I was ok with what one of my sons just did to two other boys. I looked at him and said "they are in high school, he is in in Jr. High, they are both bigger than him and the age of his older brother, they decided to beat him up because his brother is gay, my son made them run screaming for help and if he were old enough I would buy him a beer"
The sad thing was that because it happened on the side walk the cops in this town would do nothing about it but if it had happened at school the little phobes would have been suspended for even calling someone a fag.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | March 23, 2011 1:43 AM

You and your sons make us proud.

The more bullies who learn their lesson the hard way the fewer bullies we'll all have to face. The word gets around.

I can see the big point here: don't just protect the youth but help them flourish. It's too true that being protective can easily become patronizing.

Thank you for writing from the heart here!

Anthony Carter | March 24, 2011 2:30 PM