Welcome to Discovering the Male Mysteries with Mel Mystery. This blog is a supplement to my podcast is for and about gay and bi pagan men. My podcasts are about what it is to be gay, what it is to be pagan, what it is to be men — sometimes as separate topics and sometimes all meshed together as one. I started this endeavor after seeing that there were few, if any, podcasts out there on this topic. The podcasts are informative, and present topics that challenge conventional thinking.

Archive for September, 2016

In Defense of Men’s Groups and Spaces – Part 1

mensymbolOver the years, I’ve been involved in a number of groups – some of them coed and others catering to a single gender, in my case “men’s groups.” I’ve also been aware of many women’s groups – whether Lesbian groups or Pagan women’s circles, among others. In college, I was part of the gay and lesbian student group (later we added more letters like “b” and “t”) and a gay youth group made of young gay men, women, and a few folks in-between.  After college, I belonged to a few coed sci-fi clubs and also a gay men’s group and later a couple of Pagan men’s groups.   Living in a pluralistic society, I’ve always seen room for groups of all kinds and niches.  While I’ve heard the occasional cry of why can’t we have a club where everyone is “welcome” and everyone is represented, the very nature of clubs and groups is to segment around a particular topic or niche.  This can be a hobby, religion or spiritual path, cause, orientation, gender, or any additional topic area or combination thereof. You don’t often hear the bowling league suggesting they need more basketball players to be representative, but when groups start forming around a specific identity ideas of representation are more fluid and open-ended.

As a human being, I’m part of many tribes and groups.  There’s my tribe of birth made up of my family and extended family, my tribe of choice made up of my closest friends, the tribe of my profession made up of coworkers, the tribes associated with hobbies and various other groups I’m a part of.  Each of these tribes play a role in my life and I might go to each tribe for different things – emotional support, professional development, intellectual stimulation, or because we enjoy the same activities.

Most of my adult life, I’ve been a part of one men’s group or another and sometimes a few.  My reasons for being interested in an all-male environment might be different from someone else’s.  As a gay man, my heart and soul long for a closer connections and bonding with men, and not just sexually.  For me personally, I feel the need to actively seek out men’s groups and men’s spaces.  Left to the natural order of things, I’d be surrounded completely be women.

In college, most of my very close friends were Lesbians.  I love my Lesbian friends.  I actually felt more of a connection to my Lesbian friends than I did to my gay male brothers.  While most of the gay men around me seemed to be interested in only clubbing and the current fads.  My Lesbian sisters were out there being activists and trying to make the world a better place.  At least, that was the dichotomy I saw in the gay and lesbian community in that particular time and place in my life. Besides that, there was none of that sexual tension between me and my Lesbian friends.  We weren’t sexually attracted to each other.  We weren’t threatened by each other or too shy to communicate.  We weren’t competing for the affections of the same gender. Life was generally uncomplicated, and if I had to sit in the back seat in the name of feminist equality, well that was just the way things were.

As a Pagan, most any Pagan circle or group (other than male specific groups) I might want to join are something like 80% women and 20% men, if not more women.  Paganism is largely a feminine, Goddess oriented religion, though at its best it recognizes a need to balance the masculine and feminine energies.  At its best, despite discussions of polarity, it also recognizes gender as a spectrum and not a binary.

I also work in a library, which is largely a female dominated field. Out of a staff of 70 or so people, there are about a dozen men in my workplace.  This is actually more than it was even a few years ago.

As I said earlier, without a conscious effort on my part, I’d be completely surrounded by women.  As a gay man, that just won’t do. I love women as family and friends, but the company of men completes me in a deep and profound way.

For gay men, men’s groups can provide a great deal of room for growth.  In one of my podcasts, I mentioned how a number of gay men have ambivalent feelings about other men (I believe this might have been in Episode 5 related to my review of the book “Gay Warrior”).  We’ve been taught to distrust other men.  They’re our competitors, the people we fear most will judge us, and the people we’ve likely been damaged most by – whether it was a homophobic straight guy, an ex-lover, the catty queen at the bar, or even our own fathers. For many, it’s much easier to hang with our non-threatening female friends than to risk opening up and exposing ourselves to other men who have more potential to hurt us.

Both gay men and straight men have ambivalent feelings about “men’s groups.”  Gay men are often concerned that men’s groups are full of macho super masculine homophobes.  Straight men often believe that men’s groups are full of gay men having orgies at every gathering.

For straight men, men’s groups can also be an opportunity for growth. They can provide opportunities to share experiences, concerns, and even dare I say feelings in a safe environment among other men who might better understand where they’re coming from.  It’s been said that “women are from Venus, and men are from Mars.” While that may not be the literal truth, men and women have been socialized differently and often have different concerns or may come at their concerns from different directions or with different perspectives about the world and their place in it. Men’s groups can also help men to become better.  When men come together for spiritual or self-reflective purposes they can begin to disassociate negative, patriarchal ideas of masculinity and manhood like control, aggression, competitiveness, and domination, and replace these with more enlightened masculine ideal such as assertiveness, confidence, cooperation, and nurturing.

 

To be continued…

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Episode 13: Fifty Shades of Gay – Part 2 is now available

In case anyone missed it, my latest podcast is now available.  I uploaded it a few weeks ago, but I’ve been very busy so I’m just now getting around to announcing it.  If you subscribe to my podcast on Podbean or iTunes, you probably already saw the new episode show up earlier this month.

In this episode, I continue where I left off in Fifty Shades of Gay – Part 1.  Besides sharing some personal news and announcements, I talk about all kinds of alternatives to traditional heteronormative relationships for gay and bi men including living together, civil unions, serial monogamy, casual monogamy, casual non-monogamy, open relationships, open marriages, triads, polyamory, swinging, platonic relationships, Bromances, Boston marriages, BDSM liifestyles, intergenerational relationships, long-distance and Living Apart Together relationships, hiring escorts, and being happily single.

You can find the Discovering the Male Mysteries podcast on Podbean, iTunes, or by visiting my website at: http://www.melmystery.com/

Enjoy!!!