When Men Cry

Since I first read it, I have been troubled by a passage from Alex Haley’s Roots. I paraphrase: “Let me tell you, I am a man. I cried like a baby.” Written when he “reaches” the village that connects him to the past, the passage has irritated me.

Eve Sedgwick helps me to understand this irritation.

The sacred tears of the heterosexual man: rare and precious liquor whose properties, we are led to believe, are rivaled only by the lacrimae Christi whose secretion is a such a specialty of religious kitsch. What charm, compared to this chrism of the gratuitous, can reside in the all too predictable tears of women, of gay men, of people with something to cry about? (Epistemology of the Closet)