[ PRIDE MONTH EDITION ]
1. How old are you & where are you located?
I’m 33 and live in Denver, Colorado, USA
2. Tell us about yourself and your coming out experience.
No one ever tells you that coming out isn’t a one-time event. I’m so used to outing myself that I barely think about it. I do it in job interviews. When I meet new neighbors. In line at the grocery store. I’d rather they dislike me immediately than deal with the rejection if they find out later.
I made a new friend recently. Bonnie is 87, has a wonderful laugh, and is a delight to talk to. She’s also the first person in a long time who didn’t know I was gay. A few months back she said something nasty about the “homosexual” living in her building. I was heartbroken. I had never heard her speak that way about anyone.
Is this what she thinks of gays? Is that what she would think of me? Suddenly I was 14 again, scared that my parents would stop loving me if they knew.
So I came out to her. It was hard. It was awkward. I briefly wondered if I should have stayed silent. I almost did. I still hang out with Bonnie. It’s been hard to erase the memory of her face when she talked about her neighbor. But I’m not a frightened 14-year-old anymore.
3. What is important for you when choosing underwear?
I really value comfort. In the right pair of underwear, I don’t even notice I’m wearing them. I want to feel attractive wearing them and confident if someone sees me in them.
4. How does Badami’s underwear compare/standout to other brands you’ve worn?
I love how soft the fabric is, and that the seams don’t bunch or pull. The pouch is my favorite part… it stretches as needed while not feeling tight and still providing support. That’s hard to find - other pairs have had uncomfortable seams, been oddly shaped, or are too tight for comfort.
5. How has toxic masculinity affected you personally as a member of the LGBTQ community? How have you/are you working to grow from it?
I spent a long time being afraid of men. They were strong, athletic, and stoic. My mom called me “sensitive” because I would cry when someone hurt my feelings. My dad didn’t cry. My older brothers didn’t. So I stopped.
Men didn’t ask for help, so neither did I. I stayed silent when I got jumped by a group of boys when I was 8. I didn’t say a word when my crush got a group together and beat me up in highschool. I told no one when older men took advantage of me as a teen.
Being queer was further proof that I could never be a real man. It meant I had to work even harder to not show emotion. To be perfect. To avoid asking for help. I had to succeed by myself.
As an adult, this left me isolated. I could be there for my friends, but wouldn’t let them be there for me. It wasn’t until my life fell apart and I lost the things I valued most that I was forced to ask for help.
It was the best thing that ever happened to me.
It’s been so freeing learning that I can be a man and cry. I can be a man and fail. I can be a man and ask for help. I was so humbled to learn that I can’t do it all on my own, and so blessed to finally realize that I didn’t have to.
6. What would you like to say to your younger self or readers that relate to your story?
There is more love for you in the world than you can possibly imagine.
7. How have you witnessed your own manhood (or manhood as a whole) evolve in the last few years?
I care so much less about what others think. My expression of masculinity used to be performative: it was about showing others that I could measure up to some absurd standard. Now it’s about being authentic. I am me. I am masculine. I am a man.
It used to be about exerting control on the world around me: if I could achieve successful outcomes in work or my relationships or my finances, I was a man. Now it’s about exercising my own agency and choosing how I live my life and respond to the world around me.