Men’s Tears

Even though I’ve acted out the tough guy—in gangs, in boxing, in labor as a steelworker, carpenter, foundry worker, in construction—I am a sensitive person. I carry a lot of feminine energy—in my writing, creativity, learning interests, and community work. I also have a strong masculine energy, in particular the attention I pay to details, getting things done, in moving projects. Together these energies, if properly aligned, make for a visionary and productive person. However, growing up, as a small tyke, I didn’t understand any of this. I recall once playing with dolls with a girl my age who lived a few doors from our house. When I was found out, I never heard the end of it. The implication was that I was gay. That came up more than a few times. Without thinking, I tried to compensate against this by being a bully, a fighter, and never again acting out my active imaginative mind with others. Later in juvenile hall, in jail, or the streets, I would attack any male who looked at me the “wrong” way. Once I punched a dude at an after-hours club thinking he had given me such a look—I recall him skimming along the dance floor from the force of the punch. While I know I am not gay, I suffered for a brief time the stigma… for being sensitive and artistically inclined. Now, as a mature thinker, healer, and revolutionary, I understand all this. I’m now free to be the poet, fiction writer, performer, and imaginative person I was meant to be. I don’t hold back, but I know far too many males who do. Even to show tears, the particularly important man tears, is a “no-no” in our culture. That makes for some highly explosive, dangerous, and raging men who can’t get to the deep source of their rage since it is often linked to a deep grief. Everyone has feminine and masculine energies in all aspects of their lives. Sometimes the feminine is stronger, other times it’s the masculine. The feminine may be stronger in the areas of the mental, artistic, or work… or other fields of interest. Maybe it’s the masculine. In sexuality, when a man has more feminine (which has many manifestations, not just so-called effeminate ones) he is most likely Gay. Again, my feminine sides sprouted in other areas of my life, not in my sexuality. That’s just the way the propensities and qualities I possessed took shape. This doesn’t make me any better or worse than others. In Mexika indigenous circles, we say “Ometeotl” to represent the Creator spirit. But it’s not really a diety of some sort. It actually means “Two Energy” or “Two Spirit” or “Female/Male” vibrations. It’s to honor the supreme generating principle of the universe, what we call feminine and masculine energies. “Two Spirit” is a term some Native Americans use to designate a Gay person. It’s in recognition that this is a natural part of all of us. That every community, every family, in all times, have had people with different degrees or levels of feminine or masculine energies that in sexual matters can take the form of Gay or Lesbian. It’s natural, part of all humanity, and vital to all life. I write about this now because this issue came up strong during the annual men’s conference at the Woodland Camp in Mendocino, CA, part of the majestic redwood forest. My two youngest sons, Ruben, 23, and Luis, 17, took part. At one point, I talked about my struggles as a child with being put down for having a sensitive nature—and the way I responded by raging and fighting. I felt this issue was an honest thing to speak about, finally, so my sons know that whatever sensitivities they may have—again in whatever areas of their life—they should understand this is what makes them who they are. The ongoing political and rising physical attacks against Gay people in the U.S. and other parts of the world are not natural—they are criminal and obscene. Anti-Gay sentiments, laws, and such are man-made, a social construct, used to scapegoat and detach us from our own human impulses. It’s time we recognized all these attacks for what they are. I’ve been taking part as a teacher and poet in the Mosaic Multicultural Foundation’s men’s conferences, youth events, mentoring workshops, male-female summits, and more for seventeen years. Created by mythologist and storyteller Michael Meade, Mosaic helps gather the broken pieces of community so they can become authentic and whole. My oldest son Ramiro, my wife Trini, and daughter Andrea have also participated in one or more of these kinds of events over the past seventeen years. Mosaic’s events—including “voices of youth, voices of community,” “the poetics of peace,” and their “walking with” projects with incarcerated youth—have become one of the most important ways I’ve learned to recover, to heal, mostly from addictions (drugs and alcohol) as well as from deep-seated rage. You can find out more about their books, CDs, DVDs, their workshops, their conferences, and more at I thank all the man, young and old, of all ethnicities, sexualities, social classes, and professions for helping hold some amazing stories, even if traumatic, and for allowing me space to read poems and teach aspects of a poetic life (and what it means to be a man today). I particularly have to thank Ruben and Luis, who witnessed their dad’s mad moments, poetic moments, lost moments, and even tearful moments for a whole week. Knowing our true natures, and knowing how this plays out in our manhood, is key for the respectful, meaningful, and loving relationships we need with women and other lovers, family, and friends. These become important as men and women learn to find their actual callings, passions, and ultimately their real paths in life. Any change in our social compact, social relationships, in any new economy, against the exploitative and abusive, should be charged with such a vision. c/s

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