It’s Valentine’s Day, and as a “single” person, this could be a prime opportunity to launch into a full blown pity party or fits jealousy (both are states I’m quite familiar with), but this year, I’m choosing to reflect on something entirely different. No, I’m not going to talk about “Galentine’s Day” and the power of female connection. No, I’m not going to extrapolate upon Emma Watson’s brilliant new term of being “self-partnered” which removes the stigma of being single. Both subjects are extremely important, and well worth reflecting upon. However, this year, I’ve been noticing a type of love that hardly ever gets talked about: friendships across sex and gender.
When I was in college, I remember Pastor Trachte, our campus minister who was nearing retirement, sharing his reverence for this new phenomenon.
“When I was your age,” he said, “I wasn’t able to be friends with women. It just didn’t happen back then. Women were for dating, and that’s it. Men only hung out with other men. I wish I could have what this younger generation has, because you’re able to learn from each other across gender, learn to support each other in non-sexual ways. Young men learn to express their emotions these days because they have female friends who allow them to do so.”
I can’t imagine a life without having male friends. I’ve always had really good guy friends in my life. Without them, I wouldn’t be me. Starting with my amazing brother, to the dudes in my high school garage band, to my posse of amazing male friends in college, to the current crew of men who surround me, they have all brought me endless laughs, support, inspiration, respect, protection, love, shoulders to cry on, listening ears, guidance, consistency, and trust.
Most of all, the men in my life have brought me a sense of deep, unshakable HOPE. As a woman who has been sexually harassed by strange men hundreds of times, betrayed by several lovers, and discriminated against due to my gender, I need my male friends to restore my faith in humanity. Or MANity, as it were. (Manatee?? Oh geez. Focus, Chelsea). Without them, I would be left with only rage and fear toward the opposite sex. I wouldn’t date. I wouldn’t leave the house. I would be paralyzed in fear. They help me remember that there are good, beautiful, and KIND men in this world. Probably more good ones than I can ever imagine.
So here’s to you, all my past, present, and future man-friends!
May you know how much good you bring into the world just by being YOU.
Just by showing up.
Just by listening.
Just by being open to learning from women.
Your presence in women’s lives matters more than you’ll ever know.
You are like family to me.
I respect you, I adore you, I love you, I thank you.
Happy Valentine's Day, Dudes!!!
I'm a Spiritual Director, Enneagram Educator, and Liberationist-Buddhist-Universalist-Mystic-12 step-Queer-Christian. Playing with questions, answers, and surrender.