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As I get older, I feel more challenged to feel comfortable with what I think society expects from me as a guy and how I feel inside. I don’t have a problem talking about my feelings or crying at a movie that makes me feel a strong emotion, but even my queer friends make fun of me for “acting like a chick.” Why do so many people seem to struggle with emotional sensitivity from a male, regardless of sexual orientation?

It’s amazing that even in a culture that has been ravaged by discrimination, harsh words, and gender stereotypes, queer people can still be so mean-spirited and judgmental. Regardless of gender or sexual orientation, many feel that our society places particular expectations on us. As gender becomes more broadly defined and less rigid, the lines blur between what actions and emotions are “appropriate” for certain individuals.

But we still deal with other’s perspectives about how we should feel and express ourselvess. I’m not quite sure why it matters to them, but it can seem like many around us choose to voice their opinion on our actions.

Even if people who give us crap for being too emotionally sensitive do not surround us, we may put those kinds of expectations on ourselves. Acting in particular ways can bring up feelings of embarrassment, shame, and insecurity, both in front of people and when we’re alone. Most of us have been moved during a really sweet commercial, a heartfelt song played on the radio or at a concert, or while watching a movie or play when a favorite character dies or two people finally find true love with each other. As much as we try to mask those sniffles and tears welling up in our eyes, others may notice it, and this may stir up still other feelings.

Yet it seems that these stereotypes are based less on biological sex and more on the role an individual is seen as playing. A “queeny” guy may be more expected to break down emotionally when things get challenging, sad, or overly exciting. A “butch” gal’s aggressive attitude may be more accepted in society than her crying, And a “manly-man” certainly isn’t expected to be one of those sensitive, new-age guys. Regardless of the perception of who is supposed to act in what particular ways, we all can express ourselves however we want. Unfortunately, there are situations and people that may make us more self-conscious or uncomfortable with making those choices.

At the end of the day, it is up to all of us as individuals to work on becoming secure with our feelings, the expression of our emotions, and how we process situations in our daily lives. There is no right or wrong way to show how you feel about something or someone. Even if no one else gives you grief about it, personal acceptance is a struggle for many of us: our own insecurities and self-doubts can keep us from expressing ourselves in the ways we want.

Take opportunities to look at your own comfort levels when becoming emotional and how you show the world how you feel. If this brings up undesirable feelings, try to figure out why acting human makes you feel uncomfortable. You may be surprised that it is not others that are making you feel that way but yourself.