Students learn that masculinity has an unexpected “healthy” side to it, according to Philip Andujar, a senior who is majoring in Social Work, Dominique Washington, an Academic Success Coach for the Department of Academic Enrichment and Learning, Dr. Kelly, who advises the Gender and Sexuality Center and a professor in the Psychology department in a workshop at Abeloff Thursday, Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. that emphasizes the importance of mental health for men.
The guest speakers Jeremy and Nick represent the face of “Men Can Stop Rape”, a program that was established in Washington D.C. in 2012.
They explain that through the eyes of Philip Andujar, Dominique Washington, and Dr. Kelly’s testimonies, students as a whole may appreciate the significance of mental health.
Poor Maintenance of mental health can take a toll that it fueled by everyday stigmas and stereotypes of what it means to be a man.
Though Andujar identified with his mother in his heart, culturally he believed that he had to become someone else in order to be accepted.
He kept repeating “I don’t like who I am’ in the mirror” and the brutal truth that “I don’t wanna do this anymore. This is killing me.”
For Andujar, pretending to be someone else was not worth the cost.
Andujar reminded the audience of students, swimming in the tension within the room of grief, that “It’s okay to choose.
It’s okay to be fluent. It’s okay to go back and forth” when trying to decide who you are and who you want to be.
“Being a man is being strong, being fly, having all the girls, having all the drugs” according to Washington, who grew up in the slums of city life, where survival and “toughening up” was the most important life skill he could ever obtain.
In this life, Washington was led to believe that “If it’s not a physical problem, it’s not a problem.”
Nothing more was said about it as he swallowed the pain that welled up inside him while he relived painful memories of losing his mother to cancer, being forced to shut down whatever emotion he felt during that time.
Fortunately for Dr. Kelly, the stigma of manhood didn’t quite affect the professor in the same way.
Kelly became very open about the fact that he was gay as the 39-year-old describes what it was like to lose himself in the sexual pleasure that comes with being human.
In the end, his destructive behavior was halted by the counseling he sought out later in life and now uses his story to be a hope for students who are at risk of heading down a similar path.
By the end of the workshop, students had opened up about their own lives and personally connected with the Philip, Dominique, and Kelly.
These speakers showed these students that even when it seems like there is no coming back from life’s darkness, they can always seek out the light in the support of others like them.
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