Oh, the torture of being a man . . .: Are men really as bad as some women make them out to be? David Cohen asks seven of his gender what aspects of their maleness they most dislike. We could die without saying 'I love you'

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The Independent Online
MICHAEL CASHMAN

41, is a gay activist and an actor

I HATE the assumption that because I'm a man and I'm gay, I'm immediately identified as being predatory along with other men. People fail to consider that I might actually enjoy being screwed, that I might like to give in to what some call my feminine side.

I think the fact that men don't touch one another except when they're drunk or shaking hands makes them insular. It's as if men have to be cold and rational. For my part, I would like to be able to be more open about finding another guy attractive, whether gay or not. Many men are unnerved when a gay man gives them the once over. I think it's because, for perhaps the first time, they are faced with what they do to women. They are faced with being viewed as a sexual object that might be given a second thought, or disregarded.

I enjoy the clubbiness of men, the fact that if you strip away the surface, you get a kid at heart, be it a company chairman or politician. When you get men being spontaneous and relating honestly, to a point where they can cry together, it's a wonderful feeling. And all the best roles in theatre are written for men.

The pain of being a son gets to me quite deeply. My father and I didn't really get on. He was an east London docker and he found it difficult to cope with a high-profile gay activist for a son. Last year, the landlord at his local put a free pint on the counter and said, 'I saw your son on the telly last night, Johnny. Anyone who stands up like that, I'm proud of, and I'm proud to know you, Johnny.' Well, my dad couldn't stay in the pub. He walked round and round. Then he phoned me and said, 'I want to tell you, son, that I'm . . . proud of you.' Then he stammered and stuttered and I said, well, what are you trying to say, dad, and he said, 'I love you son.'

My father is in his seventies. He could have died without ever saying that to me. That's what fucks you up about being a man.

(Photograph omitted)

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