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So Is a ‘Good Man’ Hard To… (De)fine?

Click here for the latest episode of David Alpern‘s “For Your Ears Only,” which aired nationwide on the radio this past weekend. I was excited to co-host this particular episode because I was given the assignment to write a segment about an online magazine called, “The Good Men Project.”

To hear that segment, click here.

The Good Men Project is a media alternative to traditional perceptions of what constitutes and defines a man [think anti-GQ/Details/Esquire, or even Sports Illustrated]. This movement offers up a glimpse into the world of the “enlightened masculinity.” There’s also an associated book published under The Good Men Foundation, a nonprofit that donates book proceeds to the Boys and Girls Clubs and other charities.

I had never heard of this project before. But after reading a few posts, I was impressed with some of its content.

I mean — check out some of the post titles: “All I See Are White Men:” Confronting Racism in Silicon Valley,” “Non-Monogamy,” and two of my personal favorite posts: “Mostly Straight, Most of the Time,” and “The New Macho.” The last two posts address a topic similar to a post I had written on my personal blog last year which featured the rugby legend, Gareth Thomas: “The Courage of a Real Man: Defy StereoTypes.”

Tom Matlack is co-founder of “The Good Men Project” online magazine at goodmenproject.com, whose latest issue features the Occupy VC argument — the story primarily covered on David’s radio show.

As I continued to read through several posts on “The Good Men Project,” I couldn’t help but remember an incident that happened to me about three years ago. Back in 2008, I went with a group of (gay male) friends to see the film, “Sex and The City.” Immediately after the movie ended, I almost wanted to throw up! I began thinking to myself — “Eddie, you’re gay, aren’t you supposed to love this movie and go completely bizarre over the story lines and fashions of Carrie and Samantha and all the rest of those characters who I seriously couldn’t attempt to name right now!?” Low and behold, I walked away from the theater incredibly depressed and actually kind of disgusted.

Afterwards, we all went out for dinner and I remember exclaiming at the table, “Why can’t there be a film FOR men — I mean, real men? Why can’t men feel good about themselves?” And the 3 of them looked at me like, “Hmmm, Eddie, that’s a thought… but that’s why we have therapy — anyway, pass the guacamole.”

Well, fast-forward to present-day, it feels amazingly refreshing to read stories and comments from The Good Men Project about the complexities of men. The site discusses issues related to race, family, gender, and sexuality — subject matter I think about mentally but perhaps I try to avoid talking about openly.

Matlack recently made a comment in one of his interviews stating, “Men are not Bud Light commercials.” Although Bud Light [Lime] is actually the only beer I’ll drink, I get where he’s coming from. Men are as complicated, if not more complicated, than women. But Tom’s statement impacts advertisers. For instance, there are whiskey ads on “The Good Men Project,” but no beer — so I’m curious as to how other advertisers have reacted to his project’s perspective, ‘Good Men’s’ level of growth, and how they’ve been able to measure their success.

Unfortunately, the length of the FYEO segment only allowed us to talk very briefly about the Occupy VC story and the origins of the project.

I’m sure we’ll continue to hear more about The Good Men Project as well as its provocative ideology known as the new ‘Manhood Movement’ in the very near future!

Thanks again to David Alpern for bringing this project to my attention. I’ll be co-hosting FYEO with him throughout the remainder of the month, so stay tuned.

The Courage of a Real Man: Defy StereoTypes

This past week, HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” featured Welsh rugby legend, Gareth Thomas, the world’s first openly gay male athlete who’s actively playing in a professional team sport.

Gareth talks about how he desperately wanted to “look straight” and act tough — from flirting with hot girls to getting excited over an arrest for fighting. In addition to thoughts of suicide, he also goes on to explain how being closeted helped propel his rugby career:

“I was a demon on the field. People to me were just objects that I could take my frustration out on. If somebody gave me the ball I’d say, run over this guy. I had so much built up anger, so much built up frustration inside of me that, you know, I would have killed a guy if I could have. And that’s why my career went [up] so quick.”

Towards the end of the interview, Thomas says that if an American gay athlete would come out, he would leave a legacy far beyond his accomplishments of that sport.

Perhaps his story will encourage other professional athletes to kick open that closet door while they’re actively playing the sport.

You have to admit, Thomas has ‘balls’ — so to speak.

What he’s done in coming out to the world is really the ultimate test of a man. It’s what every MAN (gay, straight, or WHATEVER) must take note of: He looked fear dead in the eye and turned it into unwavering faith in himself and in his abilities as an athlete.

And by doing this, he’s opened the door for others to follow. Currently, no male athlete in a professional team sport within the United States has had the nerve to admit that he’s gay.

Thomas is a brave, true athlete who stands up for what he believes in. He’s an authentic representative of equal rights for all — not because he’s a gay rugby player, but because he has the courage to come out, while playing the sport.

What’s the reward? He receives his life back — there’s a sense of rebirth, a renewal.

Thomas is the definition of a real man — a man who would risk his entire career (or perhaps his life) and make a powerful step forward to be an example for others.

Thank you Gareth Thomas for refusing to hide… and choosing to live — truthfully.

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