Why to See “The Mask You Live In”

Jul 13, 2015 by Nickelodeon on The Nickelodeon Blog

When I was sixteen, my parents sat me down and encouraged me to officially come out to them as gay so they could express their unconditional love and support. But, as an anxious and uncertain adolescent, all I could do was resent the fact that my straight peers never had to undergo this same declaration of self at such a tumultuous period of human development. Thereafter, I didn’t hide my sexual and romantic interest in men from my peers, but I did make it my mission to minimize this attraction as an insignificant facet of my identity. I monitored my voice, adjusted my gait, and watched my posture. I didn’t mind others knowing that I liked men. I just wanted them to understand that I was still a man.

Twelve years later, same sex marriage is legal in most states and the public perception of gay and lesbian people is improving, yet reported murders against trans women are staggering. The cult of masculinity remains strong, and those who turn their back on it face pervasive physical, emotional, and institutional violence. On July 20th, The Nickelodeon will screen The Mask You Live In, an exploration of the effects when these pressures are put on boys and young men. After the film, I will facilitate a discussion with Midlands teens who will open up about how they navigate American expectations of masculinity.

-Adrian Zongrone, EdVenture Children’s Museum