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"There’s denial about men having problems related to gender roles," he said. "We need to break through that."
Gays as well as heterosexuals have played a role in the changing concepts of masculinity. Certainly, Michael Sam — the all-American defensive end who this week told the rest of the country what his University of Missouri coaches and teammates already knew, that he was gay — is already helping break down stereotypes about gay men..
But there were many examples before him, including Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis and NFL players such as Jerry Smith and David Kopay who came out after they retired. Louganis, while still in the closet, impressed the world with his fortitude at the 1988 Seoul Olympics by winning the gold medal despite suffering a concussion in a preliminary round.
"When it comes to gay men, the script is being rewritten," said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD, a leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization. "It’s a wonderful thing happening as the definition of manhood evolves, and it becomes more inclusive of more types of men."
Merriam-Webster defines manhood as "the qualities (such as strength and courage) that are expected in a man." Such qualities should be preserved, even amid all the changes, says Holly Sweet, a Boston-area psychologist and co-director of the Cambridge Center for Gender Relations.
"There are so many good things about being a man — being a provider, being honorable, taking care of others, taking responsibility, being fair," she said. "It’s not about picking on gays or dissing women."
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