A bisexual college student has penned a frank letter about his struggles with masculinity, saying “true masculinity” embraces “courage, independence and assertiveness”.
Allen Pham, from the University of South Carolina, said he had previously “lived under the impression that in order to be recognised as an equal to other men, I had to fit the mould.”
“I hated being bisexual for most of my teenage years,” he added, explaining how we would play sports as a way of “validating” his masculine identity, something which would leave him miserable.
Writing in his student newspaper, The Daily Trojan, he said: “I continued to carry my misconception of masculinity into college.
“Like any other freshman, I was desperate for a new beginning. Though I told other people I wasn’t interested in joining fraternity life, I was. Being heteronormative sounded like a great idea when it came to meeting new people.”
Describing the process of coming out about his sexual orientation and current relationship, he said he was “petrified of the judgment I’d face”.
“Surprisingly, it was different,” he explained. “For the first time in college, a group celebrated my differences. They supported me. They made me feel safe to be myself. They accepted me. And because of that, I was finally able to accept myself.”
As well as allowing him to fully accept himself, Pham says the experience also changed his views on masculinity.
“Three fundamental traits of masculinity are courage, independence and assertiveness,” he continued.
“To be a man in the 21st century does not mean that you have to be hypersexual. It does not mean you can’t cry. And it does not mean that you have to mask your feelings or your true self.”
“True masculinity embraces these three traits in all different, encompassing ways.”