Asim Krdzalic, Photo credit: Rosi Bedford, Easton College

Blog: International Men’s Day - I am returning the hug

Posted: 17th November, 2023

For International Men's Day (19 November), Asim Krdzalic on challenges and the value of reaching out... 

Today’s the day that some may see and think to themselves: ‘’Well, why does THIS need to exist?’’
I would love to attempt to answer that one.
As a refugee child, whose home was burgled in, robbed, and burned down primarily by men.
As a gay teenager, who have had homophobic attacks directed at him primarily by men.
But also, as a man, whose life was made infinitely better by being on the receiving end of some truly wonderful, caring, and supportive male friendships.

In a world that often downplays the suffering of men as a weakness, I would like to shine a light on some of the struggles men face and celebrate the progress we as a community are making in this world.

Society appears to attach the value of what men can offer based on their ability to work, protect, and provide resources. It is a cruel and cold scale that is tightening its grasp with every passing decade. As the world plunges into another economic depression, this feeling of ‘’can’t catch up’’ helplessness is on the minds of so many men. They have grown up believing that their true value can be measured by the number of promotions they can get, the cost of their car and home they can afford, and by how good they are at juggling everything without showing weakness. So many have paid the price for that.
Too many homeless. Too many victims of violent crime. Too many are burnt out, feeling helpless, and contemplating suicide.

Since my own move to the UK, the impact of healthy male friendships on my life has moved up to a new level! Compared to other parts of Europe, here I witnessed men who were kinder, gentler, and more open. Not all and not everywhere, of course, but the positive movement can definitely be seen and felt in every age group. So now what?

The seesaw between what we have now and what it can become is swaying in the breeze. I know what I am doing. I am being decisive, closing the metaphorical door and stopping that draft from influencing the seesaw from going back. I am choosing to grip the seesaw and support a male friend who is sitting on the top of it.
He is scared.
His relatives are nagging him as to why he still doesn’t own a house. None of them wish to understand the disproportionate increase in the rise of annual earnings and the housing market.
He is tired.
And this isn’t the feeling of tiredness that can be resolved with just sleep. He has been trying at work, trying with family duties, trying in his community. People around him often make him feel that his efforts and kindness are to be expected. For anyone, this is a deflating way to exist.

As a gay man, I grew up surrounded by girls and women at every pivotal stage of my life. Through all the pain, I felt their support and received their words of encouragement. They made me feel seen and my actions celebrated.
At this stage of my life, in this brave new world, I would like to mirror that and reflect it onto the male side. And I feel, often, it is reacting to it in a positive way.

As a foreigner without any relatives here, the vast majority of my acquaintances-turned-friends originated from BIAZA collections across the country. These men openly encouraged me with every hug in the middle of a busy zoo pathway (or college corridor) and with every tiny heart emoji reaction to my text where I acknowledged their help with a work task and thanked them for it.

I have held the hand of a male friend in need, and I felt them squeeze it back. He is in there.
I hugged a male friend when they were on the verge of tears and I felt them hug me back.
We have sat together and talked about love and family, about career journeys, and hobbies. And about little victories that made their day.
I want to celebrate their successes and hear about their struggles. I want to be the change. And you can be, too. Indeed, the right person/environment allows us all to open up.

They are our fathers, partners, and sons. Our neighbours, co-workers, and students. Together, they represent approximately half of our global population, and it is such an encouraging feeling to think of how much we can help heal our society if we take care of our boys and men.

Together, we can all support and appreciate each other. And I think to myself … oh,
what a wonderful world (we can create).

- Asim Krdzalic, Vice Chairman of the BIAZA Interpretation FG, Lecturer at Easton College

All blogs reflect the views of their author and are not necessarily a reflection of BIAZA's positions.