When we speak, people listen. Our actions send messages across college campuses and can motivate our chapters across the country to follow our lead. Our letters are a platform that give us the power to project our voices and advocate for social change.
My definition of “being a man” challenges me to speak openly and honestly about my thoughts and feelings. I’m re-learning how to speak from a truly genuine and unapologetic place. I’m identifying safe spaces to speak with other men about my experiences and to hear about theirs so we can move forward to healthier manhood on common ground.
Throughout the majority of my adolescent years I played sports so that I could have a conversation with my dad and to gain his approval of me being man enough to be his son. Even though I was blessed to reach the pinnacle of football and play in the NFL, I would say it came at the expense of having a genuine loving relationship with my dad.
I want my son to experience love, respect and support. I want him to be able to be his authentic self. I want him to be free to express his manhood however he feels most appropriately represents him. With intention and dedication, I can give him that at home. Outside the walls of the loving, supportive home we strive to create and maintain, I rely on the men and boys in our community.
I wondered would people treat me differently if they knew my flaws, failures and pain. After all, I had never been authentic before. I always wore the correct mask for the situation.
The evolution of masculinity has also brought us to a place where men are engaging in different roles and activities at home.
Society has authored a very incomplete story about manhood. That story shaped mine and served as the genesis for a very critical part of my identity – of my manhood.
I am commonly asked by fathers: how do I explain what’s going on with #MeToo and all these high-profile cases of sexual harassment and assault to the boys and young men in my life?