To me, feminism means getting rid of toxic masculinity within the promise of male brotherhood.
“The drama’s done. Why then here does any one step forth?- Because one did survive the wreck.” -Herman Melville, MOBY DICK
In sitting to reflect on the wreck, I find myself wandering through the mist of long-forgotten yet sharply remembered wounds. Pains that even with the distance of time feel fresh at each recollection. Why, years later, do I still reflect on this? Then, much like the members of this organization who resurface to harass me on social media, I was confronted with the memory of my own battle with toxic masculinity. Much as Melville found when he went gallivanting through the seas of his mind to soothe his broken heart, there is no answer I have found to this question but a sturdy, literary harpoon.
I never expected to join a fraternity, but for a freshman who had never really had a strong group of male friends, it seemed like the only way to achieve this. I had many female friends, and I should have been happy with them. Why did I care? Was there not enough inherent value in the many powerful women I had in my life? For reasons unknown to me, I journeyed out. It was a mistake.
Throughout my time in the NY Phi Lambda Chapter of Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity at Adelphi University, I witnessed atrocities. Within days of being initiated, one of my pledge brothers had sexually assaulted a sister of another organization, something that years later the fraternity still had done nothing about. He had fled the school but was still listed as a brother of that organization. Later, a fellow gay man who sought entry to the fraternity was denied entry because he had slept with a brother. When discussing this, one brother referred to this as “disgusting.” I tried to stand against these issues, as well as others but was ineffective. This was my folly, for next, they came for me.
The number of gay men who champion President Donald Trump should not shock the world.
Toxic masculinity has long been a tenant of the gay community. Another long-held tradition is to tear down those who stand against the status quo, or the brotherhood, as it were. On a number of occasions, other gay brothers attempted to come after me. I was sent anonymous text messages in an attempt to convince me I was being cheated on, all of which I traced back to two brothers. When I stood loudly against a white brother’s repeated use of the slur used against African Americans, my life was threatened via social media. The gay men in this organization, white or otherwise, open or closeted, closed ranks around their own, protecting his racism at all costs at the expense of many, including myself. I summarily exited the fraternity of my own accord. This was my senior year, and I had wasted three years and thousands of dollars.
In joining this organization, I found myself wondering why I was left unsatisfied in my life with the friendships I had. My female friends had supported me, and loved me unconditionally. In joining that organization, I seemed to say I needed more than them. I should not have, and I paid the price.
Western Society seduces men, gay and straight, with the promise of power in brotherhood, when this power is, in my experience, the most corrupting.
The desire for this is powerful enough to turn a Queer POC male to support the administration that currently seeks his demise, as is actively documented in the media and via his own actions. Perhaps he will one day see the error of his ways, perhaps not. Either way, I pity him, for as I have learned, this power is an all-consuming Kraken, untamable and destructive. The only way to engage with it is to leave it, as I should have.
The women I have met in my life are enchanting, powerful, incredible people who are changing the world and supporting each other along the way. They hold each other up, as they held me up. I forever owe them a debt of gratitude for supporting me even in my folly
This piece was written by Moby Richard. You can tweet him @TheMobyRichard