Thursday, March 26, 2009

It Is Manly To Care

I'll admit it. I watch Ugly Betty. I'll also admit that I wouldn't profess that publicly before because I was afraid someone would call me out as "gay" for liking that show.

Okay! Now that that's out of the way, I want to reflect about why the ending of Season 3, Episode 14 so moved me tonight.

Two subplots.

- - -


Wilhelmina, the power-hungry co-editor-in-chief of Mode magazine, works hard to hold back from admitting to her powerful and handsome boyfriend Connor that she loves him in order to have the upper hand in the relationship. She warns Connor that she wants all of him, but she won't be second fiddle to his ex-fiance, and she never begs.

Later, realizing that Wilhelmina has actually fallen in love with Connor, Wilhelmina's assistant Marc tells her:

"Waiting for someone else to say 'I love you' first doesn't mean you're more powerful. It just means you're afraid."

- - -


Daniel Meade, the other co-editor-in-chief of Mode magazine, tries to get his assistant Betty to organize a lavish surprise party for Claire's (his mother) 60th birthday. Betty was hard-pressed to find anyone who could say something pleasant and non-embarrassing about Claire given her past alcoholic lifestyle. Claire begins to shoplift in some kind of psychopathic response to growing old and alone. When caught, she confesses to Betty that she knows about the surprise party.

Betty explains:
"Daniel just really wanted to do something special for you."

Claire replies:
"You know what I wish he'd do? I wish he'd give me just a little time alone with him."

- - -

At the end of the episode, proud and perfect Wilhelmina comes forward and vulnerably admits to Connor that she loves him, without knowing what his response would be. Connor turns around, briskly walks over to Wilhelmina while she is still talking, grabs her, and kisses her passionately. Then he replies with a gentle yet masculine whisper, "I love you, too."

In the meantime, Daniel tells his mother Claire that they need to stop by his office before heading to the "surprise" party. Claire protests that they will be late, but he insists. Suddenly, Claire's eyes widen and her jaw drops. "What's this?" she asks. Daniel says, "Surprise." Two well-dressed waiters draw open a set of ceiling-to-floor sheer curtains to reveal a beautifully-set private dinner arrangement for two. Claire breaks into tears. "Happy Birthday, mom," Daniel says, as he raises a glass of champagne to his mother.

- - -

I cried when I watched those two scenes one after the other. I'm not sure why I was so moved.

Was it because I could relate to Wilhelmina's fear of being vulnerable to love, giving in, and then being surprised to find it coming back in full?

Was it because I could identify with Claire for finally getting a bit of the love that she had been wanting so much from her son?


Was it because I was astounded that I had absolutely no desire to be kissed by the strong handsome Connor, and that his gentle yet masculine "I love you" did absolutely nothing for me personally? Or because I felt a deep sense of pride (as opposed to sexualized attraction) over Daniel for doing the right thing for his mother--the kind of pride a father would have for a son?

Connor and Daniel were two men in the show that I had strong sexual feelings for prior to my becoming open to the love that I am receiving from Brother. All of a sudden, I am discovering that I have absolutely no desire to fantasize about them sexually. In fact, the thought of them doing something sexual with me, even kissing, grosses me out a little. (I can imagine them stinking, like brothers.)

Could I have been so deeply moved because I am having a taste of heterosexuality... in ME?

I think I was deeply moved because I am finally experiencing what it means to be free emotionally. And this freedom is showing me that the pathway to manhood is not to hold back my gentle and caring nature, but to embrace it fully. Like crying at a cheesy-yet-touching ending of a chick-flick comedy like Ugly Betty.

My brother who bullied me all of my life had it wrong. I am not girlie because I care about people; I am manly because I care about people. I am more manly--and strong--when I am not afraid of being vulnerable with my emotions. As manly as my Brother is. As manly as Jesus is.

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