I was recently asked about the warrior archetype and homosexuality. To be clear, I write as a heterosexual man so these are just my thoughts and observations, though I hope they prove helpful to gay/homosexual men who are looking to develop the warrior aspect of themselves.
Typically, the media image of the gay man is soft, caring, fashionable, colorful, well-groomed, perhaps sophisticated, and almost certainly political. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with these characteristics. But — even if this description increasingly applies to young heterosexual men as well — this image is a contemporary cliche. And, if we look back at New York photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (especially his 1983 self-portrait of him wearing a leather jacket and holding a machine gun), the leather phase of Freddie Mercury (of the rock band Queen), Rob Halford of Heavy Metal band Judas Priest, or at the art of Tom of Finland, we can see that — before “diversity” — it was far from the only image — or self-image — of the homosexual man.
More pertinent, here, homosexuality was practiced by some Samurai and Spartans. Baron Friedrich von Steuben, who did much to shape the continental army during the Revolutionary War, was homosexual, as was the British military strategist Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888-1935 — better known as Lawrence of Arabia due to his activities in the Middle East during World War I). Although he had a wife, the Japanese author Yukio Mishima was either homosexual or (at the very least) bisexual. (And Mishima founded his own private army, which trained with Japan’s national army.) And, until recently, the popular and controversial author on masculinity Jack Donovan described himself as (and coined the term) “androphile.”
Of course, I recommend that you develop yourself as a whole — mind, body, spirit — after the archetypes of the craftsman, warrior, and magician. But, certainly, sexual orientation doesn’t preclude anyone from developing themselves in the vein of the warrior archetype alone (or with the other two aforementioned). Indeed, everyone should know basic self-defense, especially those who are not inclined towards violence.
But the question is really one of self-development. Strengthening the body also strengthens the mind and the “guts.” When our body is physically weak, we are more inclined to fear and to want to be protected. Being physically strong, fit, and active gives you confidence in all areas of life. (That’s one reason why many C.E.O.s work out first thing in the morning.) And if you’re dealing with depression or are feeling stressed or despondent, a good physical workout will help you to overcome this and to get back on track emotionally.
While there’s a lot of hostility towards the strong, male body today, I encourage you to ignore the nay-sayers and to develop your physique, your physical strength, and, as such, your sense of self.
Regardless of your sexuality or gender, training in a martial art will also help to redefine your self-image because you will push yourself beyond what you think your limits are. As such, you will discover a source of untapped potential within you. Indeed, as Mishima himself recounts in his Sun And Steel and elsewhere, he was a bookish child (and rather weak and sickly), but, as an adult, he began training his body, becoming very muscular. He also took up the martial arts, practicing Kendo and Karate, and, as noted, he formed his own army — the Tatenokai (“Shield Society”).
If you are nervous about getting started, look around at different training centers, dojos, and martial arts temples. You will see that the vast majority of people there are friendly and well-adjusted. You will probably see some people who are muscular and others who aren’t. (People of all sizes and body shapes take up martial arts.) And you’ll find that these schools also don’t want you to go away injured.
Yes, you will get bruised. And, yes, there is a risk you could get injured — that’s life. But if the school is at all professional, they will have safety procedures and most will have some kind of padding for sparring. Moreover, you will start out doing the basics and will work your way up to riskier techniques over time, once you’ve developed a technical foundation for performing them.
It’s good to be around others that are on the same journey as you and that will hold you to account. Join a martial arts school. Get a trainer, join a gym, or work out with friends — at least a couple of times a week, if possible. Get stronger. Check out Mishima’s Sun And Steel. And enjoy the journey.
Sure, you will see guys who have been practicing a lot longer than you, and that are, consequently, stronger and better skilled than you. Don’t be intimidated. Be inspired.
Things take time. Don’t measure yourself by who they are today but by who you were yesterday. Don’t be a cliche just to make other people happy, or because it’s what they expect, especially if it leaves you feeling fake or unfulfilled. Homosexual, heterosexual — whatever — strive, as a warrior, to become the best you can be.