A month or so ago I posted about somehow feeling less manly surrounding having my orgasm controlled. Thumper and others jumped on me about this – in both good and bad ways – and I did re-caliper my thinking around that and realized that they were right, that the act of being denied or being controlled does not make one less manly at all. I get that. I really do.

That said, the last few weeks I have had a nagging thought in my head that has really come to the surface this week about my manliness in general and how, if any, my deeper dive into submission is affecting this level. Frankly, I don’t think it has much to do with it at all, but rather my questioning is just part of the natural aging process and due, likely, to my new exposure out of the almost exclusively gay world I have realized I isolated myself in. To be clear, I am not talking about masculinity. I realize that most dictionaries would say that masculinity and manliness are the same thing, but in this situation, I am breaking them apart.

For me, masculinity is rather natural (pause for the joke from Thumper here). I am a big guy in that big guy way. I am not fat but I ain’t little either. My voice is deep and I carry myself rather mightily when I need to and I cannot be graceful to save my life. However, manliness, in this context, is something I have never really had a traditional stronghold in and, frankly, it has never bothered me until recently. By this, I mean that I am not one to always read a sports page first. I am not outdoorsy, and I don’t wear flannel well at all. In my garage sit a German SUV and a German sports sedan versus a giant truck or a more practical Honda and I have always preferred to do the dishes versus take out the trash. I’ve never intentionally gone the the store in sweatpants and would rather die before wearing a sleeveless shirt even to the gym. I have always been sensitive and cared deeply for those in my world and admitted that to them without shame. That’s just me and always has been.

However, over the past few months, that traditional me has been evolving as I have been looking at trucks, enjoying pre-season baseball, and, just yesterday, wore sweatpants to Target. I even took my shirt off in my car this week, just because.

I’ve allowed myself to question whether real manly men would be feeling the way I do when I get lonely on the road or miss Thumper or my other friends when we don’t connect on schedule, because, in my wrongly thought out mind, missing buddies and feeling unconnected are not associated with manliness. I know that is very very wrong and my need to connect is just who I am and these people I am talking about already know those things and deal with them.

The question in my head has been, why?

At first, I was very quick to blame these thoughts on being subjugated by my husband, by my choice though, or by giving him the control of my penis. I allowed myself to fall victim to the being submissive means you are weaker trap and I have been struggling to find my way out of this even though I know it’s absolutely false while also struggling to actually allow it to happen.

I know this is 100 percent false because, as you might have heard, I have seen Thumper in some really primal submissive places but not once, not even for a second, did I ever think of him as any weaker than when he walked in the door in his business attire with his man bag two hours before. I have always seen him as power and submission together, which is one of the things I think is sexy about him. However, even seeing that and knowing that, I have not been able to figure out why I was not able to apply that same logic to myself and allow myself to climb out of the false subbie box of weakness I had fallen in. This has been an area I have just wanted to sit down and discuss with him, as he is my Manliness Consultant, but time has not been our friend this week and this isn’t a text-able thing.

In addition, and to be absolutely candid, the last few months have been the first time, ever, I have questioned not having children. I have felt a void I didn’t know was there in a sense and have wondered if it was the growing older factor, the impending illness of my mother and seeing my role in her care and thinking ahead, or if I just, finally, wanted to go throw a baseball with my kid. It’s been an odd thing, frankly, because, up until now, I have never given it a second thought.

However, tonight I realized that my questioning of my manliness was truly indeed tied to my new levels of submission, kinkiness, and even switchiness, but just not in the way I naturally assumed.

Turns out, I have decided that it has nothing to do with my soon to be encased penis or, for that matter, even Axel at all. It has to do with, well, this.  I have realized that as I have explored this side of me and made new friends, I have accidentally officially come out of my big, sparkly, glittery gay shell and, for the first time in my adult life, I am truly inside the homes and bedrooms of Thumper, my Chicago friends, my New Zealand friend and others who all have these wonderful lives that are so different from the same old two men and a dog groups of guys I have been around for twenty years. Don’t get me wrong, I love my fabulous flaming friends and have an amazing life, but through these open posts, Twitter, and by having a biflexipan boyfriend with a wife and kids, I am now seeing so much more about how life works with other people. So many more variations of love and happiness, and so many things that I knew was there but just generally lacked inside knowledge of the day to day-ness of it.

So, how does this tie into the manliness questioning? Well, I realized that at 45 years old, this is the first time I am making real friendships with straight-ish men and that I am really enjoying it. Don’t get me wrong, I have always had straight male friends, but I have never had the type of relationships with them that I am enjoying now where we talk about life, sex with our spouses – my male one included, where I can ask about breast sizes and vaginas without shame and where I have a true glimpse into the bonding that two men can share and, because these men are open enough, I can talk about the same things with them and give them a glimpse into the same, often boring world, of a same sex marriage. I have decided that the truck thinking, the sports page reading, and outdoorsy envy are just side effects of the exposure that may go away or, if they don’t, such as with baseball, then I am and will be a better man for it. I liken this to when Friends first aired and I was a 20 something who suddenly decided all of the friends in my life were not pretty or quirky enough and I wanted  to go live in a coffee shop in New York. That didn’t last, but elements of it did such as the picture frame I always have on the back of a door and this giant coffee table I am not sitting in front of, but I am a better man for knowing it and having been exposed to it.

I’ve been too hard on myself recently, but through all these things I have realized that admitting my need to submit is really just another expression of me understanding myself and my relationship and nothing more. In fact, all of these things, are just growing pains and were likely to happen with or without a collar. Many of these posts have been about me vowing this or that and MOST I am sticking to such as the gym, trying to be naked more, and feeling free enough to express myself when needed. So, let’s just add this one to the list as I will now officially stop the self questioning and allow my former self and my new self to blend into what I am thinking will be this big ole mix of switch with a metal dick attached.

Today I was on a Sydney train and my car was fairly empty because it was going both away from the CBD and the beaches toward the suburbs where I work when I am here. In fact, in this car it was just me and about four gay guys who I would guess to have been in their early 20’s. In some ways it was like going back in time because I remember being one of those guys. Also, a great deal of the younger men in Australia still dress like we did in the 1990’s so that just helped me visually.

As I sat there with my earbuds in pretending to listen to my iPhone, I listened to them talk about dating, meeting guys, and how they wish more guys were “straight acting”, even though, in my terms, they were not.

Those two words paired together just made me laugh because I didn’t know that in this day in time that was still a phrase, concern, or descriptor. One hundred and twelve years ago when I was dating prior to both Axel and high speed internet, “straight acting” was something I was all about. I described myself as that. I requested anyone I met on a date be that. And I defined the type of man I wanted by that.

The funny thing is that nobody really could define what it meant.

For me, it meant I did not want a club guy, a twink guy, or, god forbid, an effeminate guy. I wanted someone ready to be settled, someone with a sense of purpose, and, someone who was naturally masculine. Looking back, I think a lot of my self doubt, internal homophobia, and other issues were hiding behind the term, because I did not want to be around swishy men who might out me by virtue of their presence or flighty spirits who had their own course in life, most likely unplanned, and it didn’t matter what anyone thought of anything.

So, from my train point of view and in thinking about a lot of the labeling posts that Thumper has been writing, I decided that I think that this is a phrase of the youth, of the younger gay men who still, even now, lack the words and the understanding of what they want and who they want. Young men who have not yet met enough straight men who, through their acting, have shown them that that is no longer an attribute they need to ascribe to.

To double check this, tonight I did a Craigslist and Manhunt search and, sure enough, almost all of the “straight acting” requests were from men younger than 27 or older ones who had ads that said something like, “I’m 54, never married, straight acting, an avid collector of prized porcelain frogs. Nobody knows I am gay. Seeking xxxx, must be straight acting

With this post, I am making no judgement on whether or not the term is offensive, off based, or even relevant so this is just an observation.

That said, twenty years later, I have two friends who are so flaming that we can’t let them in our yard during the dry season, some twink or former twink friends, and a few straight men who are anything but straight acting within our close circle of friends along with some who are so masculine the Brawny guy would wonder if his dick is small next to them, so I certainly did not stay with the SA mantra as I aged.

What also hit me is the other irony in that, after all those years searching, I finally did land a straight acting man, aka Thumper. Aside from the fact that he likes boys too, he’s as straight acting, by pure definition, as they come (or not, as in his case) and it didn’t have a thing to do with his masculinity which, aside from his hair product fascination, is something that enters the room almost before he does.

Finally, I am not ashamed of having used the phrase to describe my preference for a masculine man any more so than I am ashamed of having that masculine preference.

However, if I were to place an ad now or describe myself, I think I would just go with “masculine” and leave it at that, unless I was describing myself in which I might use the words “Super Masculine”, complete with the capital letters since it’s just so obvious.

Anyway, just my random thoughts on wording, masculinity and me.