My little brother was the first to call me a gentleman, and my eyes lit up like electricity. I’d just discovered that I liked male pronouns, but I hadn’t yet realized what a powerful word gentleman could be. It’s more than just a word for a man. It’s praise.
My gender is still far from simple, but there’s something undoubtedly delightful about the combination of “gentle” and “man”. It implies that the typically underrated quality of gentleness in males is in fact something to aspire to, not mock. And the way it feels in the mouth as my tongue rolls out the word? It’s beautiful.
It has such exquisite meaning, too. It brings to mind holding open doors and pulling out chairs and taking the time to listen. I can’t say I’m a perfect listener, but these are things I desire to be.
Perhaps, after all, gentleman is simply an ideal that leaves us striving to better ourselves, and isn’t that why we are here? I want to be a gentleman in the fullest sense of the word: not just on Tuesdays, or with someone I love, but always.
Call me a gentleman only when I’ve earned it, but call me a gentleman.