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About a month after my brother's death, I stepped out of a shower, entered my bedroom, and told my music robot to play the late South African pop singer, Brenda Fassie. For some reason, I was in the mood for the her Kwaito period.

Robot began its playlist with what I rate as Fassie's richest and most accomplished work, "Monate." It had some jive in it, a bit of the church in it, and a sweet confusion of calls that put you in the middle of a township. Suddenly, I burst out in tears. I shocked myself. I had never cried before—or I had no memory of crying. And the sobbing would not stop no matter how hard I tried. As the fit was entering what seemed like forever, but was in fact its fifth minute, my mind finally gripped my emotions and turned off this never-before-seen tap of tears.

It took a moment for me to realize what had happened. I told the robot to stop playing music. No more Brenda Fassie for now. I had forgotten that the last time I saw my mother dance was to another Fassie hit, "Mpundulu." This happened in 2002. Her cancer for reasons unknown decided to give her a reprieve from pain during a birthday party for my son. She stood from the couch and began moving from side to side in a long dress. Everyone was surprised. Was she getting better? Was the treatment working?

But when the song was done, she sat down and never danced again. Six years after her death, my dad died. And ten years after his death, my brother died. The last death was completely unexpected. Two months after Kudzai's death I was balling because "Monate" recalled the swaying dress, the last dance, and the concatenation of loss I had experienced. I snapped. And no one was there to see it. I was alone in the house. I did not want anyone to know about it because I had been raised not to cry. I was raised to be a man.

And now for the image that is receiving lots of attention: Biden holding and kissing his son, Hunter.


Here is a father. Here is a son. The son is looking at us like a confident figure in a Dutch painting. The father is almost clinging to his son. What the father's body says is: I never want to lose you.

A personality named John Cardillo made this image viral by asking Twitter: "Does this look like an appropriate father/son interaction to you?" Obviously, this man's mind comes from the gutter. Indeed, as the old fart wisdom goes: He who smelt it dealt it. I wonder more about Cardillo than about Joe or Hunter. Why would you see it that way? Also, haven't we had enough of this manliness? Four years of it. Non-stop.


But there is something else. At this moment, we have a president who spends a lot of time dancing for his mask-less supporters to the Village People's "Macho Man." It is supposed to be just a bit of campaign fun. But Trump has always worked hard to make himself look as hard as hard can be.

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In interviews he leans forward as if he is the one in power, the one ready to attack the interviewer physically. He loves the image of himself with his eyebrows down and close together, eyes glaring, lips tight. He wants voters to see him as the essence of American masculinity. We may laugh at this. It seems all too silly. Trump never really does much more than give bloated speeches, play golf, and rage-tweet. But if you were raised, as I was, to be manly, these four years of Trump have certainly revealed the well of masculinity to be filled with poison.

Being manly after Trump can never be anything but an awareness of its toxicity. The last presidential debate was suffocated by his doggish determination to make everyone know that he and he alone was in charge. He also wants you to know that he beat COVID-19 with sheer will. He saluted that helicopter. He breaks the rules. He dropped the f-bomb when threatening Iran. He talks on and on for hours about his own greatness.

And so, when I saw the picture of Joe Biden displaying some serious affection for his son, the target of one right-wing attack after another, I felt relief. We live in a time when many men, such as myself, want nothing to do with raw masculinity. If you did not know it was toxic before Trump, it is impossible to be ignorant of this fact now. We know for sure Trump could never be photographed feeling that way about one of his sons, though his daughter is another matter. We know the mess his manliness has made of America. Now is the time to cry. 220,000 dead Americans.