Can a man act too effeminate?

bothatonce

Hi John,

Just read your blog posts on homosexuality—very insightful. I am a homosexual man myself. However, I am extremely effeminate (not to the point of transgenderism), and I was wondering: What are your thoughts on males who behave like females (wearing make-up, into fashion, etc.)?

Sometimes, I feel that God does not like the way I am. So would you say I should change even though this comes naturally for me? Thanks so much! I greatly would appreciate your response and time taken to write it. God bless.

The only reason I’d suggest changing is if not changing is bringing you too much pain, trouble or grief. If you’re getting beaten up every day for wearing make-up, I’d advise you to quit wearing make-up. I’m no conformist; but I’m also pretty down with surviving. I want you to be okay. If being okay means you have to tweak a little of what you do here and there, then … then that’s life. We all do that. What’s natural for me, for instance, is to be naked while I clean my house. But I stopped doing that, when a traumatic accident caused me to learn that cleaning the house naked can lead to one of the weirdest ways ever to ruin a perfectly good vacuum cleaner.

But this isn’t about me. It’s about you, thank God.

The above caveat being said: No, I don’t think you should change. Screw changing. Be the way you are. It’s good for us to have men who act like women, and women who act like men. Because those are the kind of people who are leading the way for all of us to be exactly who we really are. People like you are the heroes of our culture.

I’m a six-foot-two, 215-pound man who’s about one nanoliter of testosterone away from being a werewolf. If I were any straighter I could hire myself out as a T-square. Well, I love Broadway musicals. I’m completely interested in women’s fashions. And not just because of the women who wear them; I’m enamored with the whole idea of fashion as art. When talking I move my hands around so much it’s like they’re secretly trying to message for help.

I hate the thought of acting like the term “March Madness” triggers in me any thought at all beyond “Everyone’s horny in the spring.” Though I’m awesome at all sports, the one I chose to focus on was tennis, which nine out ten sports enthusiasts agree ranks on the Gay-o-Meter just below synchronized swimming. And in high school I quit the tennis team so I could act in the school plays. (My athlete friends to me: “Don’t you think acting is a little gay?” Me to them: “Well, let’s see. I spend my time surrounded by straight alpha girls who know they’re pretty enough to be actresses. You spend your time chasing and climbing all over other guys, and then taking showers with them. But I’m gay?”)

I’m a child of the fifties. My father’s generation of men was stuck doing nothing but working like mad men and as much as possible distancing themselves from their emotions. While in high school my wife, along with all of her classmates, was given an aptitude test. The boys’ test was printed on blue paper; the girls’ was on pink. The only jobs for which the test showed young women suitable were nurse, secretary, and teacher. That’s it. Those were their three choices.

When I was seventeen years old, a group of gay actors and dancers, slightly older than I and infinitely more sophisticated, took me under their wing. At the time I had zero concept of the whole idea of homosexuality; to me, everyone was … well, straight like me. The people in the group who took my lost and sorry ass in were seriously effeminate men. They giggled; they tittered; they swooned; they faux-fainted; they screamed when to me a simple gasp would have done the trick; while talking they gesticulated so wildly that I learned to step back when they started telling a story. And they did all this in public. They especially did it in public. They liked being the center of attention. They wanted other people to very much register their presence.

They weren’t in the least afraid of being who they were.

Those guys saved me. By so boldly and uncompromisingly being themselves, they showed me how I, too, could be myself. They proved to me that I didn’t have to partition myself into parts, some of which I could show publicly, some of which I couldn’t. Because of them I got to bring to the table all of myself, all of the time.

I am every day grateful to those guys (and to their/our female friends who loved them). I don’t know what my life would have become without their modeling for me what whole people look like. They dared to be different, and in so doing empowered me to do the same.

So, no: unless you must for your own safety, don’t change. I don’t know a lot about a lot, but I guarantee you that God is more than okay with you being the entirety of the person you are—which is to say the entirety of the person God created you to be. You’re a guy who’s inclined to behave in ways most people associate with women. Lots of men are like that. Lots of women like to behave in ways most people consider masculine.

It’s all good. It’s more than good; it’s important. Because all of us, as a race, are right now in the process of learning the one thing that, come hell or high water, we all will learn, which is that ultimately no behavior, thought process, or natural inclination is exclusively male or female. We all contain a great deal of both. And it’s thanks to people like you—people who were essentially born to be trailblazers—that we’re all becoming more and more comfortable embracing that divine truth.

Here is the perfect picture of who, on macro and micro level, all of us really are:

yinyangnv1

Blessings to you, friend.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter. If you shop at Amazon, help support John by entering the site through this link right here--Amazon will then send John 3-4% of the cost of anything you buy before exiting the site again.

 

  • Elizabeth

    I had an effeminate gay man as a preschool teacher. He taught dance and art in rural Michigan. Maybe that’s why it never registered as an issue for me. My college best friend rocked stilettos and MAC lipstick with the best of them. He’s also the kindest, most patient person you could ever meet. We are on call for each other via Facebook or phone 24/7. My advice is don’t change. Haters always be hatin’. Do what makes you happy, for yourself and for the example you set for the next generation.

  • Jude Conklin Craddock

    John, it never ceases to amaze me. Your ability to cut to the chase in a balanced and loving way is awesome. What an honor to be in a world where men such as you…. REAL men… put themselves in another’s place and shares practical wisdom in a heart-felt way.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

    As a straight, mid aged granny who until recently player WoW, loves cats, hates the Twilight books, can’t speak if her hands have to be still, nand is as athletic as a dying chia pet….I will say I totally agree with John.

    Be yourself. Delight in the Uniqueness of you. Find comfort in how you were configured as a Wonderful member of humanity. I bet you Wont regret it.

    • Valerie Horton

      “athletic as a dying chia plant”!! I love that.

  • Lymis

    Wonderful piece, John!

    But I think we also have to include the idea that when you bring God into the equation, in terms of what sorts of behaviors God does and doesn’t approve of, you can’t just look at any one culture or period of history to determine the norms.

    Wearing tights and makeup, silks and satins and big wigs and lots of jewelry? Completely masculine behavior, if you were in the court of Louis XIV. Throughout history, long hair, short hair, makeup, no makeup, robes and kilts or pants, wearing flowers, wearing boots, meticulously styled hair and beards, clean-shaven, big bushy facial shrubbery, near nudity, total body coverage – all completely masculine, at some point in history.

    For that matter, there have been cultures where gay relationships were seen as the really masculine ones (go figure!) and the heterosexual ones were seen as practical and about producing heirs. And so on.

    There’s no indication that God has ever been particularly judgmental about any specific fashion, grooming, or accessory choices, with the possible exception of Sampson, and Paul’s odd obsession with various people’s hair length. Well, okay, God was also a little miffed that Adam and Eve figured out they were naked, but again, that seems pretty case-specific to the events at hand rather than a fashion don’t.

    The letter writer needn’t worry how God feels about such things.He may, as you say, prudently take his neighbors’ likely reaction into account.

    • Cat Rennolds

      As far as I could tell, God didn’t care that they were naked – THEY did. Because for the first time they felt like they had something to hide.

      • Lymis

        I agree, but at some level, it still involves clothing choices and the motivations that underly them.

        In the story, God was upset that they felt ashamed to be naked.

  • Lymis

    It’s a challenge to say this next thing right.

    I don’t think that there is anything wrong with either one, but there’s also a significant difference between being effeminate and “acting like a woman.”

    Nobody looks at a flamingly effeminate man with stereotypically nelly mannerisms and confuses them with a soccer mom. Many kinds of cross-dressing – specifically, many types of high-camp drag, are specifically to create the ambiance of “drag queen” rather than of someone who is unremarkably looking and acting like a woman. And when the issue isn’t even cross-dressing, but merely being instantly identifiable as gay, that’s even more true.

    So, while being transgendered and dressing so as to present the appropriate appearance isn’t wrong in any way either, and as long as nothing dishonest or nonconsensually manipulative is happening, neither is recreational cross-dressing, a lot of times, this question isn’t really about “acting like a woman” so much as it is about “acting too gay.”

    Being a man who is effeminate, swishy, and fabulous, including, if it does, things like makeup, grooming, and high fashion or even gender fluidity in appearance, if it’s a genuine expression of who you are, is no more or less morally acceptable than dressing in such a way as not to push anyone’s gender norm buttons, if that’s a genuine expression of who you are.

    There are times and places I wouldn’t recommend it from a personal safety standpoint, but it’s not a moral issue.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      I think what you mean isn’t that you want to say what you have “right.” I think a better word to use would have been “correctly.” With the word “right” comes a moral judgment that I don’t think is exactly what you’re after here. A word, or a set of words, or even a thought, can be “correct” without also being either right or wrong. Convention has it that “right” and “correct” are synonymous, and certainly historically many people have been willing to make that assumption. But today those simple classifications no longer apply. And even if they did, you want to be sure to take into full account all those times when something might, in fact, be correct, but not, in a strictly moral sense, “right” at all. Was it “right” for men in medieval times to wear in the front of their leggings huge codpieces? Sure, at the time it was. But it was also–and perhaps, given the innate human need to be accepted if not outright admired by others, correct. But would it be correct OR right for men today to do the same? It depends. Many men enjoy artificially enhancing their bulge quotient. Other men find that to be “wrong,” i.e., morally incorrect, because it amounts to nothing more honorable or “right” than false advertising. By the same token, is it wrong for a woman to pretend to enjoy such a deception? Is it correct for her to do so? And who’s to judge?

      Before we go leaping into any prescriptions for what is “right” or “wrong” or “correct” or “incorrect,” we must take pains to ensure that before so doing we have taken all the time and thought we need in order to make sure that nothing we say, or any part of any one thing that we say, can be taken by anyone to mean anything at all beyond what we ourselves intended it to mean, lest anyone ever have, or even think they have, plausible grounds for accusing us of, consciously or not, failing to give some aspect of what we’ve said its “right” and full consideration. Because that would be wrong.

      :-)

      • Lymis

        Well, okay, “correctly.”

        What I actually meant was that I wanted to make the distinction between two ideas without implying a moral value to either one – that it’s okay to wear makeup and dresses if you are transgender, but not to wear makeup or high fashion clothes if you’re “just” effeminate – as though one is a valid human experience and the other isn’t.

        But really, codpieces are always right. Seriously.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          That’s what I keep telling my wife!

          • Lymis

            Photos or it didn’t happen.

        • Anne

          I think the real question here is obvious and I can’t believe it’s been overlooked. Why on earth were they called codpieces? “Hey baby, get a load of my big fish”….. and so on??

          Blech.

      • Jill

        Whoa.

    • anakin mcfly

      For clarification, what are you referring to by “and as long as nothing dishonest or nonconsensually manipulative is happening”?

      • Cat Rennolds

        as long as you’re not deliberately trying to make somebody else do, say, feel or think something they wouldn’t if they knew your actual physical gender. I think.

        • anakin mcfly

          That’s a bit problematic, though, and is rooted in the belief that trans people are not ‘really’ their gender and are trying to actively deceive others into having sex with them. I can definitely understand being attracted to just one type of sexed body configuration, since that’s how it is for me; but when it comes especially to trans people who have gone through hormonal and/or surgical transition (or intersex people, for that matter), the term ‘actual physical gender’ gets kind of blurry.

          For instance, I know trans people who have had genital surgery, have been on hormones for years, look basically indistinguishable from any other man or woman even when naked, and who *have* had sex with people who were unaware of their trans status (mostly casual hookups). In those cases I can’t really find anything morally questionable about that: there was mutual attraction, consensual sex happened, no one was harmed, both parties were satisfied with the proceedings, they went on with their lives.

          In such an instance, implying that the trans partner *should* have revealed their history just in case the other person might change their mind seems to be placing an unfair burden on them (and often risk, given the rate of trans hate crimes that end in murder), plus it implies that trans identities are somehow dishonest or deceptive.

          Someone once used the analogy where he was Jewish and a teacher in an area where it’s quite likely that a few of his students came from anti-Semitic families. Given that, should he have been obligated to inform his students’ parents that he was Jewish, just in case they wouldn’t have wanted a Jew teaching their kids? Or in something closer – should a woman who has had breast augmentation or cosmetic surgery or found out she’s closely related to Hitler have a moral obligation to reveal that to all her prospective partners, in the possibility that they might no longer be attracted to her – even disgusted – if they knew?

          I’m currently of the opinion that people *should* tell their partners such personal things if they’re in a long-term relationship, but that’s more out of trust and building that bond of intimacy than moral obligation.

          I realise that even as a trans person myself I do have that same instinctive aversion to the idea that another trans person might be having sex with people without first telling them about their history, so I fully understand where you’re coming from, but at the same time I can’t find any way to justify that aversion without resorting to transphobic arguments.

          • Matt

            Yes, this is without a doubt a touchy subject for folks with our background. Because let’s face it–the goalposts are always moving. I can tell myself that I’m reasonably sure that I won’t be accused of being a “tr*nny trap,” but just how sure can I be when it’s all about the person looking at me? What is the “right answer” i.e., which one are they looking for? Which will have me avoid harassment, rejection, embarrassing questions? Or, God forbid, a beatdown or corrective rape, depending on whether I need to be taught how to be a “real man” or a “real woman”?

            But I think that John genuinely means something more along the lines of “pretending to be something you’re not to deliberately deceive someone.” As in, a conscious act.

          • Cat Rennolds

            I did say deliberate deceit. Yes, there are plenty of “need to know” things that you don’t go around wearing on your t-shirt unless you want to be attacked by mobs of strangers (especially where I live!) but that’s not the same as a gay person – NOT transgendered – trying to fool someone as to their gender. Presenting as your new, actual physical gender after reassignment is not deceit – it may not be original but it’s nonetheless factual.

          • Lymis

            Please reread what I said.

            I said that recreational crossdressing is fine as long as long as nothing dishonest or nonconsensually manipulative is happening.

            I also specifically said that being transgendered and dressing so as to present the appropriate appearance isn’t wrong in any way.

            The considerations that trans people have with regards whether, how, when and why to disclose their gender and their transition are complex and personal. I’d still say that doing something that is deliberately intended to deceive or manipulate someone is wrong, but that’s distinct from things like feeling it isn’t time or isn’t someone’s business.

            But that’s why I specifically only discussed deceit, nonconsent, and manipulation in the context of recreational cross-dressing. A cisgendered person who dresses as the other gender for fun or for sexual thrill isn’t doing the same thing as someone authentically presenting their gender, or even exploring gender presentation in order to decide what feels authentic.

            So a straight cisgendered guy putting on a dress and makeup and deliberately going out to try to screw with people’s heads or get off on getting other straight guys to hit on him is drawing someone else into their kink nonconsensually. That’s deceitful and manipulative. The same guy putting on the same dress and enjoying a day at the mall? Different story.

            That’s a whole different thing from a trans person presenting their gender and meeting people, even if part of that is getting to know them well enough to decide whether to disclose about the fact that they are trans.

            Like I said, I was concerned about phasing it all correctly. It was my intention to separate out the concepts of dressing flamboyantly, dressing to present one’s authentic or preferred gender identity, and cross-dressing for fun or kink.

            They’re all very different things, with somewhat different considerations related to them, and it seems to me that the letter writer has at least parts of all of them mixed in together. I was trying to untangle them a bit to make sure we were discussion the parts of it that applied to the letter writer without making sweeping statements that don’t apply in other situations.

            Apparently, I did it poorly.

            If anything I said seemed to be insensitive to, or worse, an attack on trans people, that was most definitely not my intention, and I apologize deeply.

          • Elizabeth

            Amen.

          • Matt

            Please don’t worry too much, Lymis. Like I said, it’s a very touchy subject. As you well know, fear can banish logic in a heartbeat. I wish that there was no reason to fear, but of course I cannot control that. You were respectful, as you always are.

          • vj

            Still with the awesomeness!! :-)

          • vj

            By which I mean: if everyone could present their ideas with the same grace and intellect that Lymis routinely displays, the world would be SUCH a wonderful place…

          • anakin mcfly

            Yeah, that makes it a lot clearer. The ‘while… and’ made it seem that you were referring to the previous part of the sentence (ie. about trans people) rather than the latter part about recreational cross-dressing. Thanks so much for your clarification, and no offense taken!

  • anakin mcfly

    drive by comment regarding “However, I am extremely effeminate (not to the point of transgenderism”:

    Gender identity and gender expression have little to do with each other, though they often correlate. There are lots of trans women who are extremely butch but still identify as and/or transition to live as women, and vice versa with feminine trans men.

    • Elizabeth

      Hi anakin! I’m completely female, and I’ve been reprimanded my whole life for “thinking like a man.” It’s a broad spectrum. You’re right. John touches on it with his shout-out to alpha girls.

  • James

    “When talking I move my hands around so much it’s like they’re secretly trying to message for help.”

    Bwahahahaha! hahaha! I’m ever so glad I did not have a mouthful of beverage or food right as I read that. It would have absolutely been all over my keyboard and monitor.

    Oh, John. Priceless, as always. :D

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

    Up until the 1940′s, pink was the preferred color for boys, being considered “stronger” than blue. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, children of both sexes wore dresses till about age six. It wasn’t until the baby boomer era that gender specific clothing for children became the norm,

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/When-Did-Girls-Start-Wearing-Pink.html

    • Don Rappe

      I know that my brothers and I wore fancy dresses at our (infant) baptisms. In the 1930s. But I think I was wearing overalls when my nanny trained me to wipe myself, by yelling through the bathroom door that I could do it. I distinctly remember her responding to my question by telling me I was finished when the paper wasn’t brown anymore. I don’t remember any dress.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

        Oh that made me laugh, and brought back memories when my oldest grandchild at the time had just mastered potty training, and had to go while on a visit to the DMV. Her exuberant cries of “I pooped Nana! I Pooped!” had to be heard by everyone in the building. I didn’t dare look a soul in the eye until we left.

        Your Nanny must have been a trip.

  • Scott Amundsen

    <>

    That’s why we love you John! LOL

    • Scott Amundsen

      Oops. Typoitis.

      “And in high school I quit the tennis team so I could act in the school plays. (My athlete friends to me: “Don’t you think acting is a little gay?” Me to them: “Well, let’s see. I spend my time surrounded by straight alpha girls who know they’re pretty enough to be actresses. You spend your time chasing and climbing all over other guys, and then taking showers with them. But I’m gay.”)”

      That’s why we love you, John! LOL

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Thanks, buddy. Always good to hear from you.

      • Erin_D

        Yes, this almost made me fist-pump into the air in my cubicle!! LOL.

  • Joanne Elliott

    Thank-you John. As always, you are so fluent & compassionate in your writing. As you know, here in Australia parliament has rejected gay marriage, whereas New Zealand has voted it in. Bummer for us!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Thank you, J! Yeah, I really need to show that wonderful speech made by the NZ politician, the … well, this:

      • Denise Ashworth

        I’m a straight (and straight-up) ally of marriage equality. This made me weep happy tears and made me want to give that politician a standing ovation. Well played, sir. Class, character and compassion. The total package.

  • Ellen

    Flowers for Algernon. You were awesome in that play and made me cry. I’m glad that you quit the tennis team. I do remember thinking how brave you were to play a mentally challenged character in the play. Don’t know why I thought that would be an issue but that’s a teenaged brain for you. Anyway, great advice John. Thanks!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Whoa! Ellen! How … nice of you to remember a play I did! That’s sweet. Thank you. I respected your opinion back in elementary school, so it’s nice to know that by high school I hadn’t yet squandered my last hope of you ever just figuring I was beyond hope.

    • Mike Haas

      Flowers for Algernon is Number One on my list of favorite books, and one I’ve re-read at least a hundred times. To Kill a Mockingbird is Number Two, by the way. In any event – would have liked to have seen John in that play. Sorry – I don’t have more to add on the subject. “Flowers” is one of the most amazing pieces of writing I’ve ever encountered.

    • Erin_D

      Did you play Charlie? I well up just thinking about that book!! I didn’t know there was a play.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Erin D! Always so wonderful to hear from you. Yeah, “Flowers for Algernon” is the much-acclaimed adaptation for the stage of the renowned story and novel of the same title. I did play Charlie, yes.

  • Mike Haas

    Perhaps one of the best possible replies to such a question. Erring on the side of personal safety. I like it.

  • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

    I saw a documentary recently about the Stonewall riots. For those who don’t know, the Stonewall riots were a series of riots which took place in New York in 1969 following a raid by police on a Greenwich Village gay bar called the Stonewall Inn. It was the first time homosexuals stood up and defended themselves against the harassment and persecution of the police and it was an event that led to the birth of the gay liberation movement. The leaders of the riots were the drag queens and “effeminate” men who frequented the Stonewall Inn and we all owe them a huge vote of thanks for whatever liberties we’re able to enjoy today as gay people.

    My advice to the letter-writer is that he embrace fully his “differences”, because there’s a legacy of courage and creativity to be found there too.

  • Bert Gagnon

    Awesome answer!!!

  • Kate O’Keefe

    Beautiful

  • Scott Spencer-Wolff

    215 pounds. Seriously? In what Universe? :-) SNAP!

    • mike moore

      ooooh, that’s low. I’m not sure anyone with a hyphenated name should enter into the “SNAP!” game. 3:)

      • Jill

        hi stranger. xo

  • Lorena J Burkett

    John Shore … You are so unconditional you bring tears to my eyes.

    • Jill

      Isn’t it the truth, Lorena? Pastor Shore is the real deal.

  • Marisa Feathers

    “What’s natural for me, for instance, is to be naked while I clean my house. But I stopped doing that, when a traumatic accident caused me to learn that cleaning the house naked is one of the weirdest ways ever to ruin a vacuum cleaner.”

    I had to go outside and catch my breath before reading the rest of the post. Thank you for starting my day with a dose of heavy laughter.

    Also, no fair on the intense mental imagery this early in the morning.

    Coffee… STAT!

  • http://www.notjustablonde.com Not Just A Blonde

    Yes! Yes! YES! Yay to this message & the hilArious (yet, wise) messenger! Another excellent response I agree with 100%… all except the naked cleaning part… why, John, why? ;) lol! Actually, I loved it ALL! Thank you for being 100% you!!!!

  • Stef

    I always enjoy your posts, Mr. Shore, including this one. I also enjoy the respectful and insightful comments. What makes me really sad, however, are all the references to the possibility of violence being directed toward those who express themselves in public.

    How do we make the public space safe for *everyone* to be who they are?

    • DR

      We as Christians start actively shutting down our own people who are integrating their homophobic beliefs into our educational, penal and legal systems. And we stop using words like “that’s so gay” in front of our kids in describing things we don’t like.

  • Clairnel Nervik

    Hello John,

    I have enjoyed reading your blog, and I agree with most of your views…

    Today, though, I wonder if you really meant that the description below is what a feminine/effeminate is like:

    “The people in the group who took my lost and sorry ass in were seriously effeminate men. They giggled; they tittered; they swooned; they faux-fainted; they screamed when to me a simple gasp would have done the trick; while talking they gesticulated so wildly that I learned to step back when they started telling a story. And they did all this in public. They especially did it in public. They liked being the center of attention. They wanted other people to very much register their presence.”

    I know a lot of very feminine women who do none of these things…

    Thanks for your insightful writing.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Hmm. Yeah, good point. I just assumed that people wouldn’t read that word–”effeminate”–in the objective sense you’ve taken it, but would rather understand that in its given context I was referring only to that kind of over-the-top “gay” behavior I then describe.

      I still kind of thing people MUST take it that way. But maybe you’re right. No fix along the good line you’ve suggested comes immediately to mind. I’m freakishly busy at this moment, but if you (or anyone else!) has a solid alternative, please share! (And remember: it’s all about economy of expression!)

      • http://www.michaelrowe.com Michael Rowe

        “Feminine” and “effeminate” rarely mean the same thing. John’s use of the term is correct.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          Yeah, that’s just what I was going to say. Get an education, Clairnel.

          MICHAEL ROWE!!

    • Jill

      Hi Clairnel,

      I’m a fairly feminine-expressing woman, and I read feminine differently than I read effeminate. Effeminate being defined as having feminine qualities untypical of a man, which is how John used it here.

      There can be similarities, but no, they are not synonyms of each other. I would elect to leave the wording as is.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        whoo-hoo!

      • Don Rappe

        Yup!

      • DR

        Agreed.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          whoo-hoo!

    • Lymis

      I’ve honestly never heard the word effeminate ever used in the context of discussion a woman. Ever. Effeminate is pretty much an entirely different concept than feminine.

  • Jill

    Wonderful, touching, funny, and warm. I was also a child of the 50-60s when I took an aptitude test and scored in the 99th percentile in mechanical ability. The guidance counselor told my mother that this was wonderful because I would be able to fix my own typewriter when I became a secretary. I wanted to be an engineer, but was quickly steered away from that. I also wanted to go to college – something I had to fight my parents for.

    I do have a career (in public relations) I have my masters degree and I have taught my sons to go after their dreams – whatever they may be (as long as they are legal and moral). I have two musicians and an artist. Viva la difference! (please say that with a French accent)

    And I can still tune up my car and fix just about anything in the house – but won’t go near a typewriter!

    I am as God intended me to be – I hope!

    • mike moore

      Vous êtes une belle femme que j’admire beaucoup.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Hey! No French!

        • mike moore

          jeez, you sound just like the other straight guys who were always trying to kiss me.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            Oh, I see you are in rare form today, Mr. Moore.

            Everybody run!

          • mike moore

            HAR!!!!! “Everybody! Run!” is also a line from one of my favorite songs, “The Homecoming Queen’s Got Gun.”

            And yes, I’m just back from a GRUESOME trade show. Take cover.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore
      • Jill

        Hey! Wrong Jill!

        (every time I turn around with this one…)
        ;)

  • mike moore

    In the early 80′s, I used to ride the Jackson-3 bus line to/from SF’s financial district for work (yes, John, I used to ride the bus, just like real people.)

    On many evenings, I found myself sitting near a man in women’s clothes. I was utterly fascinated by his presence … a man in women’s clothes was, even in San Francisco, a true rarity in my neighborhood. I was fascinated that he was sweetly demure … legs crossed at ankles, handbag gently sitting on his lap. I was fascinated by the shadow of his heavy beard, which, by 6:30pm each day, was beginning to break through his make-up. I was particularly fascinated by his Chanel suits, his Holly Golightly alligator shoes, and his smart Kelly bag … I used to smile at that, wondering if he and my Mom used the same saleslady at Magnin’s.

    But mostly, I couldn’t get over how brave he was. It would’ve have been brave to ride the bus from downtown into the gay ghettos of Polk St or the Castro, but up into Pac Heights? That was bravery on a whole other level.

    I was also ashamed. I’d never have the courage to be his friend.

    Years later, I would fall into the company of crazy and wicked drag queens via my friends Anita Fixx (heroin-addicted super-model) and Kim Chee (manicurist, prostitute, and part-time flight attendant for North Korean Air) … and while I was in awe of their hair, their ensembles, and their height (6’9″ in heels), I was most in awe of their bravery.

    So, dear, brave, letter-writer … I say don’t change a thing. I agree with John about being safe, so … always carry mace. Importantly, should you run across a pore minimizer and/or a self-tanner that doesn’t make one look like John Boehner, please share! (seriously.)

    (and John, tennis RULES! I like you even more.)

  • Sharla

    One of my nephews learned a wonderful phrase in his (fairly evangelical Christian) preschool that he eventually got to applying in all kinds of situations his preschool teachers probably never envisioned: “That’s the way God made it/me/him/her.”

    Girly girl, tomboy (for lack of any better word coming to my mind at the moment), manly man, effeminate man, straight, gay, bi, trans, or anything in between: all part of the great, wondrous, beautiful variety God built into the human race.

  • Keith Osterberg

    Speaking as a straight guy who has been told on occasion that he gives off a “gay-vibe,” let me just say that, John, you’ve given away the inside scoop of straight guys in the theatre. The theatre was always my best place for finding girls to date.

    Be yourself, writer-inner guy. If other people can’t handle it, that’s their problem. God digs diversity.

    • Matt Schur

      This. So much this. On all counts.

  • http://www.poesies.com Gina Cirelli

    My following comment has nothing to do with being effeminate, but it does have to do with sticking out of the crowd and being proud of it.

    I went to F.I.T. in NYC in the 80′s and got a degree in Fashion Design. All my life I have had distinct preferences in color and style, and going to school for fashion helped develop them.

    Fast forward 20 years and I was forced to move to an agricultural area in Deep South. Yeah, for sure I stick out with my graying waist-length hair, my vintage cateye glasses, my butterfly rhinestone hair pins and my hot pink sneakers.

    For a time, this made me agoraphobic. I didn’t want to be anything but me, but being me got people giving me the side-eye and nobody wanted to talk to me.

    One day it dawned on me, though. I was grocery shopping, and, as usual, people would look at me and grin, and sometimes laugh. As a child of alcoholics, I was taught that any personal style that made one stand out was “affected”, and so of course I took these reactions to heart as being mocking.

    Then on the 40-minute drive home, when I usually talk to God, I got the answer. These people aren’t smiling at me or laughing because they are making fun of me. They are doing these things because looking at me gives them joy! The fact that I can go outside and revel in my personal style gives other people joy!

    So think about that, LW, and wear your makeup. :D Spread the love!

    • Elizabeth

      Gina, as a woman who did her time in a performing arts school in the Deep South, I love this. 100%

  • DR

    I’m a six-foot-two, 215-pound man who’s about one nanometer of testosterone away from being a werewolf.>>>

    I laughed OUT LOUD through this entire thing.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      It’s so true, though. I mean … actually, for real: on a full moon, I can’t sleep. My heart feels like it’s pounding too fast, and my skin just feels like it’s … trying to jump off me, or something. I feel exactly as if I’d had a shot of adrenalin pumped right into my heart. It’s sooo extremely uncomfortable. I hate it. And sometimes I’ll actually find myself scratching with my fingertips at the hair on my chest. It’s so … weird. And most every time I’ll be feeling that way, wonder if I’ve somehow unknowingly ingested a ridiculous amount of caffeine, and then see it’s a full moon. So it’s not like I’m reacting because I know it’s a full moon; I’m hardly Joe Know the Moon Phase. It’s just … a freak thing. And I just sort of assume–given the whole werewolf myth-thing–that it’s not all that uncommon.

    • Lymis

      You’re right. It’s a real howler!

      • Matt

        *groan*

      • DR

        woof!

  • Dennis Dawson

    As an atheist, I feel sorry for God, even though I don’t believe He exists. It’s the whole “every little sparrow” business. God is a busy, busy omnipotent being.

    That very busi-ness makes me wonder whether He gets too worked up about fashion or personal expression or who wins a football game. Given that he is an omnipotent creator, he obviously wants the world to be filled with colorful people who entertain and challenge us, or else he would have made everyone in his image (literally, which according to the Renaissance artists would be something like me, which nobody would want).

    So while I won’t go so far as calling it hubris to wonder if God likes one’s fashion sense, flamboyant personality, or use of catch phrases, I would suggest that if it were really important to Him, He would send a burning bush-o-gram with selections from the JC Penney catalog to guide us all.

    Until that time, remember that just as you are, without changing a thing about yourself, you deserve to be loved and you have God’s grace. Given that He makes His followers take everything on faith, it stands to reason that His followers should show some faith in His sense of humor and rational tolerance of the varied personalities He chose to populate the world He created.

    ~D

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Man, are you sure you’re an atheist?

      • Dennis Dawson

        Yes, I’m sure. But that’s no excuse for being disrespectful to people of faith. In fact, if I’m wrong, I hope to have some people shouting “Renew! Renew!” when I go to carousel.

        ~D

  • Roger you know

    John-I like you so much.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      thanks!

  • robert

    Hi John…

    Thank you… This whole piece was amazing… the last paragraph and this.. “Because all of us, as a race, are right now in the process of learning the one thing that, come hell or high water, we all will learn, which is that ultimately no behavior, thought process, or natural inclination is exclusively male or female. We all contain a great deal of both.”… was hitting the nail on the head for me.

    I am usually considered a “straight acting” gay guy… and it is weird… cause I am more “gay” around straight people and more “straight” around gay ones… something about me seems to like to be the counter-point… and the counter-point is exactly what I believe that LGBTQ people bring to culture in general. We play with gender… the cultural forms of gender… because gender is fluid… it is the forms and shapes and meaning that we as a collective society put on genitalia…

    Pink is not naturally for girls and blue is not pre-ordained for boys… these are cultural constructs. What gay people do is … shift the constructs…. re-invent the wheel… and play with the forms… we do not do it to change the world… we do it because the rigid stereotypes… don’t fit. And I believe that they don’t fit for alot of people…

    I have always though the straight people, esp. straight men… need to look at how homophobia… as effected them. My best friend in HS was a sensitive, artist guy… and he was tagged as being gay… and bullied for it… for years. He wasn’t gay… (he is married, has a great wife… and is very happy and believe me… not gay)… but because he did not fit the “straight” box perfectly… so he was treated really badly. But I am not talking about only sissy boys… I am talking about regular guys that never learn the language of … emotions. Because they were taught that having an emotion was being a sissy?

    I am glad that the world is changing and that your blog has been adding to that change… it gives this pessimist some hope…

    Again thanks….

    (still worried about global climate change)

  • Josh M

    And in high school I quit the tennis team so I could act in the school plays. (My athlete friends to me: “Don’t you think acting is a little gay?” Me to them: “Well, let’s see. I spend my time surrounded by straight alpha girls who know they’re pretty enough to be actresses. You spend your time chasing and climbing all over other guys, and then taking showers with them. But I’m gay?”)

    Best. Argument. EVER.

    I always comment that football players are just a bunch of guys who need to have an excuse to get a hug.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      love it.

    • Gordon

      Or a slap on the ass….

  • http://www.michaelrowe.com Michael Rowe

    There are no words for how wonderful this reply of yours is. In a fair world, men like you would be the norm, and men like the kind of people who create a world where this person has to wonder if God likes him the way he is or not would be aberrations. In the meantime, it’s a good thing I’m an ethical writer, because the phrase “one nanometer of testosterone away from being a werewolf” is the best line I’ve heard since God wore short pants, and I would SO steal it.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      You don’t have to steal it. It’s yours for a modest monthly licensing fee. Someone will call you tomorrow.

  • Georgia

    I’m a Christian and I’ve been one for over 30 years. I’m also a male to female transexual. I truely believe God made me the way I am. He knew me in the womb and he knew I was female. I’ve lived as a female for almost 20 years now and I’m living proof that God loves his gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender children. While I’m being honest I should mention that I’m a transexual symphonic gothic metalhead Christ too.

    • Georgia

      Symphonic Gothic Metalhead Christian is what I meant. See above.

      • Elizabeth

        You are all the right stuff. We should go mosh.

        • Georgia

          Sound good to me.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    ******But I stopped doing that, when a traumatic accident caused me to learn
    that cleaning the house naked can lead to one of the weirdest ways ever to ruin a perfectly good vacuum cleaner.*********

    I won’t ask!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Michael Rowe

    I loved this the first time I read it, and I love it again. One of my favourite pieces of yours.


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