I have never really been a guy. I’ve always been male but I’ve never been “one of the guys.”
I can’t help but yawn during prolonged football and soccer games. My eyes glaze over midway through feverish discussions about the newest Dodge Ram. When asked by a server what kind of beer I’d like, I usually wait for a friend to make his request before I add, “make that two.”
Though I find myself outside the realms of frat houses and basement lairs, there is one time of year when these distinctions seem to fade into the background. It doesn’t matter that I can’t manage a video game combo or bench press my weight. One month of the year, all that is secondary.
That month is Movember.
Since the annual November moustache-growing campaign started in 2003, it has rapidly grown in popularity. In 2012, $42,602,614 was raised by 246,000 participants in Canada alone. Men pledge their upper lip hair to raise awareness and funds, initially for prostate cancer research, though it has now expanded to incorporate testicular cancer and men’s mental health programs too.
Campuses have taken up the campaign with enthusiasm. Recognizing this, the organization has constructed specialized Movember packages and contests for schools to take a part in.
What does this have to do with me? I may not be able to throw a football but if there’s one thing my Italian blood is good for it’s growing facial hair.
Just a few sprouting hairs, however, doesn’t give me the keys to the Kingdom of Guydom. Rather, it’s the spirit of inclusiveness and camaraderie guys seem to adopt during November that makes the month exceptional. Guys form teams, plan events and encourage each other. Passing strangers give nods of solidarity. Even if you can’t grow much, your “mo bros” will still welcome you.
I only speak from my experience at Western University but I imagine this spirit is part of what makes Movember so successful. It’s men from very different social groups banding together for something more meaningful than beer pong or bench presses. It’s about awareness, charity and support.
So as November begins again this year, I expect nothing less than for campuses across the country to break out in moustaches while a greater sense of community is formed as well.
And at the end of the month, when I proudly look back at the accomplishments of my fellow guys, I may even celebrate with a beer, just as long as someone else orders first.