i was at an interview for my americorps position early this week and the director of the program mentioned to me that i'd be the only male working there, if i were to accept the position, and there are several male adolescents that i'd be working with. it occurred to me that i would be in a position to be these young men's male role model - if i were someone they looked up to. i never thought i would be in this position so early on, relatively speaking, in my transition. who knows how this will all end up - the guys may very well end up hating my guts. i guess being a male role model has never been in the forefront of my mind. though, when i think of being a male role model, i think to myself "can't i just be a non-gender-specific role model?" i have thought of myself of this in a few, very specific circumstances, but i think part of myself is too modest to think that someone would look up to me.
so all of this made me think back to my childhood and adolescence and who i looked up to and to the people i considered my role models. from a very early age i remember looking up to my father and have since then. we've most of the time gotten along well, we share many of the same interests and overall he is an incredibly understanding, accepting and compassionate human being. i remember also looking up to two uncles of mine during my teenage years - they were and are active, healthy, fun to hang out with and easy going men. it wasn't until high school that i had female role models. one was my english teacher who was simply an amazing teacher and made teaching applicable and fun - i looked up to her as both a righteous human being and as the educator i hoped to one day be. the other was ani difranco - i was completely enamored with the politics of her music and the power of her voice. these people today are still my role models, some have taken the backseat to the others and the new role models i've brought into my life, which seem to mostly be bold and honest activists and advocates, where gender seems to be irrelevant.
i'm curious to hear about your thoughts and experiences with role models - please comment and share!