I recently watched a documentary called The Butch Factor, a film directed and pieced together by the obviously talented Christopher Hines. The tagline, which serves the film well, is, “What kind of man are you?” This is a surprisingly relevant question in the queer community. At only 76 minutes, the documentary profiles a series of men, talking to them about the stereotypes they face, what it meant for them to come out, and the journey of finding a place in the community in which they fully belong.
It’s funny how the universe works – sometimes exactly what you need falls in to your lap. Given to me by Peers for Pride’s director, Shane Whalley, I took way too much time to watch it. I’m the first to admit this. Often I can be found feeling way more overwhelmed than I should be, causing me to reject consuming anything other than what is directly required of me. Last week, I had two facilitations (one for a musicology class and another for an open public performance) and perhaps watching this documentary beforehand would have made me feel more prepared for whatever came my way. I didn’t have any moments in which I felt unprepared or misunderstood while facilitating, but it is always helpful to have an abundance of resources to think of. While I can definitely already relate to stereotypes and the struggle of finding a niche for myself, The Butch Factor is vitally informative in the most beautiful and surprising way, giving off an easily contagious glow of acceptance to anyone who watches it.
My monologue focuses on body image issues and how necessary it is to accept you for yourself. Specifically, my monologue is aimed at the issues gay men face and this documentary has the same focus, providing multiple examples from different men who have different and unique definitions of masculinity. These definitions have been created from their own experience and from the different people and activities that fill up their days. These men aimed to separate themselves from the rules of what being a man has meant in the past – something I think everyone should think about.
At one point during the film, one of the men interviewed offers a list of adjectives typically associated with being masculine, then a few words that challenge that. He ends his interview by saying, essentially, "I am everything." I must recommend this film whole-heartedly just as I must recommend that everyone make up their own rules about gender and sexuality and all other identities. To me, working so avidly to fit a mold is a waste of time.