A Crisis Of Masculinity

Sí vos no pisas majé, sos marica! Así pensamos nosotros”. That’s how a friend once put it to me, here in Honduras. The translation is simple and indeed somewhat vulgar. “If you don’t f*** man, you’re a faggot. That’s how we think”. I’m British, I’ve lived in Honduras for over a year now. This is a beautiful nation; it is undoubtedly a place with so much to offer. A ‘rough diamond’. Many don’t know or understand anything at all about the country. ‘Many’ being those who have not set foot here. Those who read about organised crime, drugs and murders – those who cast misinformed opinions from afar. The point to make, is that there is a lot to be said for the nation of blue, white and five stars. However, nothing is ever perfect, Honduras does have its faults. One of those faults resides amongst the young men here. Attitudes towards women and visions of ‘manliness’ being rather shocking – at times comical.

Here in Tela, Atlantída department, I find myself quite fed up with being called and asked whether or not I am ‘gay’. I respect those of an alternative sexual persuasion yet I know (as I have always) that I am by now means homosexual. Apparently, it would appear that I have ‘slipped up’ once or twice. My actions have led to some ridiculous gossip and absurd conclusions.

Here, if I wear a floral shirt (Hawaii style) it implies that I am gay. “Majé, unas chicas me preguntaron de vos. Piensan que sos gay” is what a local fellow told me. Some girls had seen me in such a shirt and thus asked my friend if I was gay. I laughed it off – moronic. Going along with that, one would have to assume that the men in Hawaii are homosexual. On account of their shirts. It gets a lot worse, I’ve barely warmed up.

On another occasion I asked why it is that here on the North Coast all the men use a particular ‘street style’ hand exchange. You slap the other fellow’s hand before touching fists. The kind of nonsense US rappers seem to enjoy, if the reader follows. “Why not just shake hands?” I asked. “Too much touching” was the response. “We’re not gay”– “no somos maricas”. I was sure that it was a perverse joke. No. He meant it, the man who told me. Shaking hands is regarded by some as ‘homosexual’ here in Atlantída. Is there any hope?

I know men who boast of being with 15 year old girls. I’ve heard tales of others who pay amounts of money to the mothers of struggling families. Why? To be with their underage daughter/s. I have been told this more than once. These ‘men’ find it acceptable. Just don’t shake their hand. It lessens the masculinity. I’ve been passed Whatsapp numbers of girls I don’t know. On questioning the young men as to why they were sending me the numbers of random girls, they replied “pa’ que te la coges loco”. “So that you f*** her crazy guy”. Elegant. I passed up on those ‘opportunities’. My mother taught me some respect.

Criticism has been heavy on my current solitary state – I.e on not having a girlfriend. I must be gay. I haven’t encountered any girls that I like, simple as that. Equally, some haven’t been interested in me. If I were to have a girlfriend though, it still wouldn’t be good enough. “Tenés que estar con varias – no solo una” they told me. I have to be with various girls, not just the one. The more girls you have sex with the more of a ‘man’ you become.

I have been living with a friend. We share a small house here in Tela. The friend took a video of me dancing in his bedroom. He posted it on Facebook for some reason – to embarrass me perhaps. Whatever. A few days ago, he captured me sitting on his bed reading. I didn’t notice his filming, so it was another comical video. Again, it found its way onto Facebook. Teleños have been concerned. Sitting me down, various acquaintances asked me in all seriousness if I was gay and furthermore if the two of us were a ‘couple’. We live together. He takes videos of me. Therefore, we have to be gay. I believe I demonstrated some ‘Spanish vocabulary skills’. Words which they don’t teach in an academic setting shall we say. This really was the final straw for me. It has been a while since I have encountered such stupidity. What do their fathers teach them?

I feel that there is a lot vacant in the minds of these young Honduran men. Obviously a lot of education has been missed. I have personally no idea of how to begin changing the mentalities here. I do however, wish to bring this to people’s attention. I for one, do not suffer fools gladly.





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