Billy Porter wore a tuxedo gown to the Oscars and people lost their minds. I’ve been thinking about this a lot since then. The outfit was beautiful. Billy is gay. However, even if he was not, you cannot deny that his outfit set the Red Carpet ablaze. Folks on the internet, particularly the people still clinging to the antiquated ideas of “acceptable” femininity and masculinity, were none to happy to see Billy get all this praise. One tweeter, cried about how Billy in a gown was destroying Black masculinity. The tweet has since been deleted, but not before thousands of retweets, quote tweets, and comments calling the tweeter out on their homophobia. Men in many other cultures wear clothing that we in the West would consider to be gowns. Togas, kilts, barongs, and other clothing are all worn by men in other cultures and nobody looses their minds.
Here in the good old U S of A, men cannot wear light colors, tight pants, or even some different kinds of shoes, without people going ape shit. Its absurd. Men are relegated to boots, sneakers, pants, and dark colors, and anytime a man strays from those socially acceptable clothing styles, he is accused of being feminine or gay.
This whole idea that men have to dress a certain way to be seen as a “real” man is limiting. Men cannot escape the confines of traditional masculinity and gay and trans men have to toe the line between openly expressing their unique sense of style with wanting to make it home alive.
I cannot help but think that having to follow these antiquated rules takes a toll on men’s mental health. We have made a point in this society to view outward appearance as the end all be all, and men are expected to look a certain way. They cannot express themselves through their clothing in ways that women are expected to express themselves. Men have to stay in the box. Staying in the box is what is expected. Staying in the box is what keeps men from being their true self.
Men should be able to wear what they want without fear. They should be able to wear pink, green, orange, togas, barongs, tuxedo gowns, and whatever else they wish. We need to break this idea that men have to behave one way and women have to behave another way. Men have to dress “masculine” and “act like a man.” This line of thinking is limiting men. It is pushing men to the brink. It needs to stop.