Boys breaking masculine stereotypes children Featured Content friendship Games Gender & Sexuality gender expectations intimacy manhood masculine emotion masculinity No Homo peer pressure Raising Boys teenage boys

When Boys Touch – The Good Men Project

When Boys Touch - The Good Men Project

A number of days every week, I transfer by way of elementary faculty hallways—observing, listening, seeing patterns. As a part of an arts programing group, I’m there to introduce creativity into faculties which have by no means had any. I watch youngsters carve out their good friend teams and comprehend how early social buildings are ingrained in younger minds.

5-yr-previous boys query my earring. Little women are puzzled by my pink shirt. The boundaries of their existence have already been established with pink and blue id markers.

It’s onerous to know the place to start out deprogramming if you understand they’ve been paying consideration since earlier than you realized they might focus.

Whereas I see younger women expertise these boundaries, they’ve some flexibility—skirts or pants, make-up or not, sports activities or arts, withdrawn or affectionate. They usually contact. Women can share intimate distance with each other once they’re telling a narrative, or sharing a secret. They’re allowed shut capability.

Not boys. Robust, withdrawn and pushed away from one another at each potential flip, intimacy is just not introduced to them as an choice. Distance turns into their “style,” and “No Homo” their code-of-conduct. Even the slightest brush of pores and skin contact is met with “Hey bro, no homo”—poisonous masculinity making it clear that nothing intimate simply occurred.

“No Homo” proves that “gay acceptance” has not truly come a great distance child. It’s the brand new battle cry of the patriarchy, and it must be destroyed.


“No Homo” is the language of Jeff, a 5-yr-previous who typically speaks with me once I go to his faculty. He sits down for snack, eats together with his mouth vast open, and recollects a video older pals have been watching on their telephone the place sooner or later two boys kiss.

“That’s disgusting Mr. Robb,” Jeff says. “No homo?”

Not with malice, however as if he had merely stated the sky is blue. And I’m questioning how he might probably use this phrase already.

“It’s okay Jeff. Boys kiss sometimes,” I say to him. The look on his face suggests I instantly morphed right into a zombie. “Yeah, boys kiss. It’s not a big deal. But you should talk to your mom, or dad, or whomever you live with about it.”

Hell, he’s not my child. And I simply see them sometimes, so I can solely go so deep. However I’m homosexual sufficient to know that someplace in that cafeteria is one other child in search of affirmation, and I refuse to allow them to hear me deny their value.

“No Homo” can also be the language of Paul, a 7-yr-previous at one other faculty, who determined I used to be his buddy the primary day we met. He likes to share his insights concerning the arts program with me.

It’s my pure inclination to kneel down once I’m speaking to little youngsters. And at some point, as I do, Paul leans again on my knee, hand grazing my face, and utters, smiling, “No Homo.” It’s clear he needs to make certain I don’t interpret this second as “he likes me.” I imply, sure he likes me, however he doesn’t “like me-like me.”

A like and a like-like must not ever be confused.

I say, “It’s okay Paul. You don’t have to use that sentence when you talk to me.” Once more, a glance of bewilderment. However he continues sitting, one arm round my neck, sharing his ideas.

“No Homo” is probably the longer term language of Greg, a Kindergartner with insanely lengthy eyelashes that he bats with out realizing it. He greets me with a Cheshire cat grin that makes him appear to be he’s flirting when he’s completely harmless.

“Hi Mr. Robb,” he says, touching my face, shoulder, chest, and arm. He sits shut and whispers about his biggest considerations—Paw Patrol, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and whether or not or not I like plain or peanut M&M’s. He cuddles me, craving intimacy the identical means little women get to casually work together; braiding one another’s hair and speaking trash like a Intercourse and the Metropolis episode—solely their brunch spot is a cafeteria, and everybody’s consuming Capri Solar.

It’s human nature to interact—and boys get it from delivery til about three years-previous, when manhood is pressured upon them.

“Be a Man” is a phrase I’ve heard stated to numerous little boys in each conceivable setting. On the similar time, I’ve by no means seen anybody scream “Be a Woman” to a bit of woman, as a result of all of us understand how ridiculous that sounds.


“Be a Man” is a primary cousin to “No Homo,” as a result of homo interprets into sharing intimate area with one other boy.

I sense that intimacy with Eduardo. He’s 10 years-previous, excellent dancer, harking back to early George Michael, with simply sufficient bangs for fixed hair flips. His dream is to be a Justin Bieber again-up dancer in 10 years. I don’t have the guts to inform him there will not be a Justin Bieber in 10 years.

Eduardo’s homosexual. He doesn’t realize it but, however I do. It isn’t about the best way he strikes, or carries himself. It’s a religious connection once we converse. I can inform he feels unbelievably snug with me, and he can’t inform why. I make campy references (“Fasten your seat belts, it’s gonna’ be a bumpy night”) and he laughs hysterically. I’m constructive he has NEVER seen All About Eve, however he’s rolling with laughter and doesn’t know why. However I do.

It’s like I’m talking one other language, and he’s starting to know that he speaks that language as nicely. There’s an grownup validating his expertise. I had that with an elementary faculty artwork instructor who “saw me.” Maybe that is my spirit needing to pay it ahead.

When Eduardo ran as much as present me a brand new dance transfer final month, it was a wonderful second … till a classmate mockingly stated, “Eduardo wants to dance for him. He wants to be next to Mr. Robb.” She stated it loud sufficient for others to listen to, with venom dripping from her tongue no totally different than the women who did it to me at ten. Utilizing ridicule as a software of energy. “He likes to hang around Mr. Robb,” she stated. “No ho—”

She doesn’t end. She seems at me. I take a look at her. She shifts her weight. I shift mine. She stares me down, and I exploit no matter psychological telepathy I feel I’ve to channel: Don’t f—okay with me little woman. You’ll lose.

She retreats and I flip again to Eduardo, ready for his defeat. He’s bothered, however he smiles and continues to point out me his strikes earlier than becoming a member of the category. “I’ll show you more next time. You’re coming back, right Mr. Robb?”

No homo. A catch-phrase to suggest “keep your distance,” ringing within the ears of this 10 yr-previous homosexual boy who’s simply shy of the second in life when he’ll begin eager for one other boy’s contact.

No homo. A time period to suggest omission. No homos current.


However in my goals, I’m wondering how totally different the world can be if we modified the damaging to a constructive. In my goals I purchase a vowel and two consonants, and stroll into these faculties sporting a shiny, huge-lettered t-shirt that claims, “Yes Homo.”

How totally different wouldn’t it be if the on a regular basis presence of individuals on the LGBTQ spectrum was informal in faculties from the get-go? A world the place all the constructive reinforcement hit you the minute you walked within the door, from the safety guard and the custodian, to the instructor’s aide and steerage counselor, to the fitness center instructor and everybody else.

If husbands and wives have been as casually referenced in similar-intercourse relationships as they’re with heterosexuals. And never companion, a time period I detest. It’s sanitized and ambiguous. Husbands and wives trace on the notion of a relationship with a sexual element. Associate is the child you don’t need to do a challenge with however you’re paired collectively anyway.

If I knew that Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King Jr.’s proper hand man and the organizer of the celebrated March on Washington, was in reality “Yes Homo”—perhaps I’d have believed in my greatness earlier.

If I knew that Robert Reed, America’s Brady Bunch dad, a present heralding blended households when the terminology didn’t exist, was in truth “Yes Homo”—perhaps I’d have believed in my capability to be a household man earlier, or no less than play one on TV.

If I knew that Sally Experience, the primary American lady to go to area and blaze a path for many who got here after her, was in reality “Yes Homo”—perhaps somewhat bit earlier I’d have believed I might fly.

Or that Barbara Jordan, probably the most eloquent politicians to ever flip a phrase, who spoke fact to energy about all males being created equal, was the truth is “Yes Homo”—perhaps slightly bit earlier I’d have recognized that I might empower my brothers and sisters to take my hand, stand up and resist any political administration that attempted to carry us down.

Sure homo. As a result of as I stroll via faculty hallways, it’s clear that lack of information creates early worry of “the other,” as society begins pumping you with false info.

It’s about being current. Elevating your hand and loudly stating “I’m here.”

It’s about the truth that “NO Homo,” merely comes from the truth that they don’t “KNOW Homo.”

And for those who don’t know, now you realize.



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Photograph by João Rafael on Unsplash

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