Your comments are very interesting.
I now wish that I had been raised on a farm or had done some kind of physical labor, as your father had you do when you were growing up. Even though I never had an interest in sports, I was ashamed of being physically weak; but I didn’t know what to do about it because my father was not physically active. He did have a casual interest in sports as a spectator, but (fortunately) he never forced me to play sports. Today I really enjoy working out at my health club. Even though I’ve started out late in life and I have diabetes and sleep apnea, I still have the opportunity to develop my physique to an impressive extent.
I’m very sorry that you were bullied because you were gay. I’m also glad that you were able to fight back. The bullying of children in schools is a sore point with me. I don’t think any
child should be bullied. I should have been taught how to box -- not for the purpose of participating in boxing matches, but to be able to defend myself from bullies. If I had learned boxing in conjunction with bodybuilding, I would have developed a lot of self-confidence -- which fact alone probably would have caused most of the bullying to cease, since bullies frequently target kids who lack self-confidence. Also, I would have been in an excellent position to “meet” my worst bully after school.
You say that the effeminate gays at your school got less trouble than you. That’s interesting. Perhaps you got more trouble because you defied the stereotype of the male homosexual being effeminate. Many people are comforted by stereotypes and are disturbed when they are broken.
To give you just a little bit of information about my background so you’ll know where I’m coming from, I’m a straight 60-year-old family man who looks more than 10 years younger. I must admit that when I was a teenager, I thought all male homosexuals were effeminate -- which does not mean that I ever hated gays, because I never did. I once had a gay friend (who died of AIDS nearly twenty years ago) before the “gay lib” movement had even started. He was one of the nicest guys I ever knew.
When I was a teenager, physical weakness in a boy was considered to be effeminate, which means that I wrongly deprecated myself. This is really ironic because one of my friends who graduated from high school the same year I did told me just last year that the biggest and strongest boy in his grade was gay. But this guy was never bullied because no one would have dared to get into a fight with him.
Over the years I’ve noticed that both
the male homosexual population and the male heterosexual population have a range of superficial masculinity from effeminate to rugged. In contrast to the “drag queen” image, I’ve seen pictures of rugged homosexual men who show no signs of superficial effeminacy. On the other hand, there are heterosexual men who have feminine mannerisms, but end up getting married and fathering children of their own.
Of course, there are gay athletes, even football players such as the former college player Brian Sims and the recently retired Esera Tuaolo, who once played in the Super Bowl. I hope you will understand where I’m coming from and not be offended, but I’ve gotten tired of nonathletic boys being called “fags” simply because they don’t like sports. I’m amazed that even today nonathletic boys are called “fags” by classmates of theirs at school. Nonathletic boys are often called wimps, yet moral cowards come in all sizes and shapes. Some men who have athletic backgrounds are wimps, morally speaking.
I had great parents, too, who taught me by their example (in other words, not by lecturing) to respect other people.
Sorry, but I just can’t let this go by. I may have already said this in the “Welcome Sports Haters!” thread. One of the greatest heroes of World War II was a Swedish businessman named Raoul Wallenberg, who was running an import-export business with a Hungarian Jew, who informed him of reports of the worsening situation of the Jews in Hungary. (As you probably already know, Sweden was neutral in WWII.) Wallenberg, who came from a rich and influential family, prevailed upon Swedish government officials to send him to Budapest under diplomatic cover to carry out rescue operations to save people’s lives. These rescue operations were funded in part by the United States. He saved the lives of more than 10,000 Jews from the German Nazis and their Hungarian fascist accomplices, the brutal Arrow Cross movement. Surviving several assassination attempts, Wallenberg repeatedly put his life on the line for others.
When the Red Army had driven the Germans out of Hungary, Wallenberg and his chauffeur (a Jewish coal miner whose life Wallenberg had saved) were abducted by agents of Stalin’s brutal secret police to a notorious prison in Moscow, where Wallenberg disappeared into the Soviet gulag. According to Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Wallenberg was once brought before the Soviet Foreign Minister, who offered to let him live as a free man in the Soviet Union in return for publicly denouncing the West. Sticking to his principles, Wallenberg refused the offer (even though his own government had forgotten him) and returned to the gulag. The date of his assumed death is disputed.
Wallenberg was a highly educated man who could speak at least five languages fluently. During the 1930s he had earned a degree in architecture at the University of Ann Arbor, Michigan. (I once was told that their Architecture Department is academically strenuous.) In 1982 Wallenberg became only the third foreigner in this country’s history to be granted honorary American citizenship status by the government of the United States. The late Tom Lantos, the Congressman (Democrat of California) who introduced the bill to grant citizenship status to Wallenberg, had immigrated to this country after World War II. He was one of the many Hungarian Jews whose lives Wallenberg had saved.
This extremely courageous and compassionate man, according to his half-sister, “detested competitive team sports.” Of course, I’m not saying that there’s any virtue in not liking sports. (Heinrich Himmler, who was the head of the Nazi S.S., after all, was bad at sports when he was a boy.) I’m just saying that he didn’t need to “prove his manhood” by participating in sports. He’s a great hero for us all, especially boys who get bullied simply because they’re not good at sports or don’t like them.