By Alex HalversonYou are perfect the way you are. Is that a radical concept? Actor, poet and public speaker Carlos Andre Gomez relayed this and other inspirational messages of self worth and the freedom of expressing one’s self without the guise of traditional masculinity Wednesday, Nov. 16.Gomez ran onto the Viking Union Multi-Purpose Room stage, hugged the speaker introducing him and asked the crowd, “How many of you are grateful to be alive?”Love, acceptance and kindness were comically and poignantly expressed throughout the presentation, with Gomez reciting poetry about his grandmother, telling anecdotes of his 6-year-old self and asking the crowd to shout the nicknames they have for their grandparents.“I just love hearing all those answers,” Gomez said to the audience.Gomez expanded on his childhood, stating that he was an emotionally open 6-year-old. He explained to the audience that he was told to man up and not show emotion when he was younger. Gomez revealed that at the time he thought the biggest insult was being called a “girl.”“But what’s wrong with being a girl?” Gomez asked the audience.
“How men are conditioned into thinking violence is an appropriate way to express your manhood, or objectifying women is of the only ways you can relate to other ‘bros.' I think a lot of people at Western, as far as my impression goes, are sick and tired of that.”
Senior Martin Prado
Everything Gomez had been told about how to be a man was the opposite of what he was. By the time he reached his teens, he was captain of the basketball team, class president and voted ladies’ man, he said.Gomez expanded on his teenage self and how poetry opened him up to a world of art and a community that taught him how gender was on a continuum rather than a binary system.Members of various Western organizations including Brave, the Queer Resource Center, the Ethnic Student Center and Men’s Resilience attended, as well as other students.Senior Martin Prado felt the presentation was great but wished it reached a wider audience.“I think he speaks to what a lot of people are thinking and starting to realize at Western, so it’s a shame not more people came to see it,” Prado said.Prado expanded on the topics he felt students could relate to.“How men are conditioned into thinking violence is an appropriate way to express your manhood, or objectifying women is of the only ways you can relate to other ‘bros,’” Prado said. “I think a lot of people at Western, as far as my impression goes, are sick and tired of that.”Senior Haley Thomas, a member of Prevention and Wellness Services at Western, also reacted to Gomez’s take on how men and boys deal with the idea of masculinity.“There’s a lot of rigidity to what male identity can be and I’m just continually surprised at how fluid I’ve always felt being a woman,” Thomas said.Gomez didn’t condemn men for struggling to keep up a masculine facade, but rather explained how men can be victims to the United States’ culture of masculinity.“I feel bad for all these guys,” Prado said. “They’re not living to their full potential if they’re not able to express emotions.”Gomez finished the event by selling his memoir, “Man Up,” a book he announced to the audience he wanted to be the next Western Reads book.