THE SPACE BETWEEN : TOMAS WHITMORE

Tomas Whitmore

I assumed that men were expected to be (or naturally were) low, dirty scoundrels incapable of fully giving and receiving love.

Whether or not we are aware of it, color is a conduit to our feelings. A lot of the music videos I direct involve an acute approach to the moods certain pigments illicit, so when I was first approached with the open ended proposition to create a story about color, I was happy to oblige. “This’ll be great” I thought to myself, “I can get on my neon soap box and attack the beige mongerers of our modern pop culture, criticizing every cell of Yeezy Seasons and Kinfolk hoes for their commoditized blandness”. However, something about that disgruntled approach made me feel like a khaki-clad grump of a man. It felt necessary to shift my proposition.

As I mulled over my approach, the granules of time began to slip away from me. I began without any clear direction in mind, buying a smorgasbord of colorful materials from the local art store. Finally, action gave way to results and I subconsciously stumbled into a visual parallel to my riddled thoughts regarding sexuality and relationships. My seemingly unwarranted obsession with the colors pink and blue led me right to the answers I was already seeking.

Over two years ago, on my 30th birthday, I proposed to a woman I had been with for five years. Unfortunately, I did the unthinkable and called the engagement off after six months of feeling conflicted. There were lots of reasons for why that happened—many of them were rooted in the early stages of our romance—but the core of the problem was that I didn’t live my truth. A brutal gift from the tardy gods of hindsight. Having robbed myself of domestic comfort, I was catapulted into a frightening, drawn out process of self-exploration and grieving. I’ve finally come to realize that relationships act as a mirror, reflecting back an honest, and sometimes ugly image of who and where we are. I find that courtship is blindly summoned into my life at times when I need to be pushed into the next level of consciousness; for the people I engage and commit to are constant reminders of what’s brewing beneath the surface. In terms of my aforementioned relationship, I was struggling with my concept of masculinity when the romance began, woefully lost in an obsession over what it meant to be a “real” man. So it made sense that I drew in a partner who was as equally obsessed with defining what a man was.

Fast forward to current day. I sat blankly gazing at the pink and blue imagery I had just created, seeking clarity on what I was truly trying to express, when suddenly, as if drawn in by my deep silence, there was a knock at my door. I leapt forward, nervously excited at the prospect of a distraction, only to feel a sense of calm wash over me as I opened the door to find my dear friend Theo dawning his signature gap toothed smile. Theo is one of the few people who has laid witness to all of my relationship woes, so I immediately drew him to my computer to show him the pink and blue images. Without a moment of hesitation, he exclaimed, “These are the colors we immediately assign to sex. Even before being born, boys get blue and girls get pink”. The mélange of pink and blue that sat before me instantly weaved it’s way into a twisted collision with my recent struggle regarding sexuality and manhood.

Like many of my peers, I grew up without a father—a circumstance that was actually a blessing in disguise, due to his addictions and abusive tendencies. Throughout my childhood,

I came across a handful of less-than-ideal male role models, all of whom obscured my interpretation of masculinity. The men I knew were mostly broken, mainly because they had grown up in a similar fashion. I always assumed that men were expected to be (or naturally were) low, dirty scoundrels, incapable of fully giving and receiving love. It’s no wonder then, that I’ve had so much trouble fostering honest, loving relationships.

Much like the male role models I grew up with, I’ve been deeply afraid that I am unworthy of love it many of my past relationships, I pined for the woman of my dreams. The thought that this idyllic person would be the only one who could see me as being fully capable of giving and receiving love created a state of panic. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I needed to get to the source of this issue by redefining my definition of masculinity. I had to first acknowledge that the men in my life were not to blame for portraying manhood as a depressing shade of blue. And in fact, they had probably been as confused and scared as I was. I’ve chosen to instead forgive them and have since tried to form my own thoughts on what makes a “real” man.

I can’t say for sure that I’ve reached any sort of closure on this matter. I am excited by the very idea of plunging into an unchartered territory nestled between my old and new perceptions of sexuality and relationships. The proof of change manifests in the relationships I’m currently drawing into my life.

The individuals knocking at my door are all asking the same questions, no matter what side of the spectrum they’re on. We’re all in agreement that the outdated constructs of pink and blue as they relate to men and women no longer apply. This paradigm shift has created a wavelength that brings about new hues of self each and every day.

Drawing back the stigmatized blue of my own masculinity, I can finally see the areas in which pink resides, creating a space for something new and even more beautiful to emerge.

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