When Men Were Men

Posted on December 1, 2022


Beginning with the arrival of humans on the world stage was the natural proclivity of such humans to procreate. The mating process generally came down to those who owned a penis and those who were screwed by one. There were countless variations from the get-go, but, as these didn’t generate offspring, they weren’t given much airtime. It was easier for people to divide the population between penis-owning and non-penis-owning humans. Those who owned a penis generally ruled. Those who didn’t, got ruled. Lots of characteristics were ascribed to those who owned a penis (the ones doing the ascribing being the penis-owners): strong, powerful, mighty, all-knowing, smart about sports, hairy. This discovery eventually led to the creation of John Wayne, war movies, and singles bars.

But, as the millennia passed, more and more heterosexual humans discovered something that non-heteros had known all along, that sexual activity was more than an act to generate offspring, and that there was a wide array of characteristics among those who owned penises. Shockingly, real men (whatever that means) could be nurturing, soft-spoken, caring, submissive, talkative, and seriously love shopping for clothes.

Aided by science, we now find ourselves in the era of mass confusion (except for most of the GOP), trying to figure out just what gender and sexuality are all about. It turns out, there aren’t enough letters of the alphabet to describe the very unique variations of human sexual identification and preference. In a way, everyone is a Q, under the right circumstances.

A couple nights ago, Life in the Boomer Lane had an enlightening experience that came from a local source. A neighbor posted on the listserv that her child, Aidan Dick, had co-written, produced and acted in (with Izzy Rojas) a film that would be shown at a local theater. Aidan considers themself trans-masculine, non-binary. More from Aidan:

Aidan began making videos in elementary school and wanted to make movies almost as early as that too. After graduating film school, Aidan moved to Ireland to make the movie they had written for their thesis. Aidan acted, produced, directed and edited this film on less than $25k. While in Ireland they worked on a farm to pay for room and board with their then partner in life and co actor and Director. Aidan identifies as trans-masculine non-binary and their pronouns are they them. This story that Aidan tells, helps bring to light the struggles of coming out trans, but also illustrates how difficult it is to be different than what your parents are.

LBL was intrigued. Why this particular film, she asked Aidan. Aidan said, “This production came about at the intersection of my own queer coming of age and my graduation from film school and my desire to pave my own path in my film career. The film incorporates a lot of my own experience and discoveries about masculinity during the time I was writing it.”

Ireland was chosen as the setting because “Ireland has this interesting pull between its socially Catholic climate and liberal political values…It also is a player with rural conservative towns in proximity to the big city, which is crucial for the narrative. Lastly, it’s just so goddamn gorgeous there. we thought even if the movie came out shitty, it would at least be beautiful.”

LBL watched the film. She appreciated that it was often visually stunning. The acting was strong. The music was beautiful. But none of that came close to the overall feelings this film evoked in LBL. It was a deep dive into more than gender or sexuality. Like several great films she can think of, it was a powerful coming-of-age piece, even without the gender and sexuality theme. Included are the expectations that parents have for children and every child’s sometimes painful journey to carve out a reality that supports and nourishes them. The question many of us (including LBL) have grappled with is how is it that we have loved and respected our parents,yet chose a path that those parents neither respected nor understood.

But, ah, the gender and sexuality. This gave the film an immediacy, a rawness, especially in light of recent events here at home. There is one scene that has stayed in LBL’s mind, that, for her, encapsulates the trauma, the fears, the hopes and, ultimately, the triumph of one human’s journey to find themselves and not succumb to the expectations of society or of loved ones. The main character is standing in front of a full-length mirror, getting ready to leave home. There are clothes strewn around that have been used for the presentation of both genders. Choices are made, seemingly in one direction. Then, in one suspended moment, a new choice emerges that is the defining moment. That one moment is the essence of power and self-determination.

Keep this film in mind. It has so far been presented at 10 festivals and has won the Special Jury Prize at the Montclair Film Festival. From that, the film has been shown in four cities. Aiden hopes it will be streamed in 2023. Until then, you can follow it (and see a preview) on whenmenweremen.info. As soon as it is available to stream, LBL will certainly watch it a second time.

LBL is grateful to Aidan and to all others who have created powerful personal journeys for themselves, and then who have used such to enrich the journeys of others.

Posted in: commentary