Nick Offerman in a black t-shirt and blazer.
Photo via Getty Images

Parks and Rec alum Nick Offerman is seeing a resurgence with the gays after his heartwarming/tearjerking episode in HBO’s The Last of Us alongside Murray Bartlett.

Offerman has had love for the community for some time, wasting no opportunity to play in the LGBTQ+ sphere on TV and in film. He was Captain Holt’s ex in Brooklyn 99, a gay bar owner in Bob’s Burgers, and a bi baker who romances both titular characters in the Will & Grace reboot. He even played the coach in the incredibly sapphic (and Queerties-nominated!) A League of Their Own series.

This week, his touching showing on The Last of Us inspired a user over on Twitter to track down another piece of his allyship made material. In 2013, the actor wrote a foreward on the topic of masculinity for Blake Little’s Manifest — a book of gay erotic bear photography.

The message is compelling:

Before you ask, the book is sold out, but prints are available for purchase (and your viewing pleasure) on Little’s website.

The actor’s seemingly gruff demeanor, frequently masculine characters, and famed mustache lead many unfamiliar with him to believe he’s some stereotypical, traditionally patriarchal, burly guy in real life. According to him, it’s not so cut-and-dry.

“People ask me frequently (well, enough that I would remark upon it), ‘How did you become so manly?'” Offerman opens. “I’m a goddamn actor, for crying out loud. But am I ‘manly’?”

The oft-asked question leads the actor to ask a question of his own: “What is ‘manly’?”

He explains that an early catalyst to his broader understanding of masculinity was one of the first artists he idolized in his youth, Freddie Mercury. He’d even wanted to be like him until he realized he didn’t have “the voice of a rock and roll angel-demon, nor a jaw line as rendered by Tom of Finland.” An unexpected but appropriate reference!

“If you had asked me back then with what qualities I would describe Mr. Mercury, ‘manly’ would certainly have been at or near the top of the list,” he continues. “‘Pretty’ would have been there as well, so I guess a man can be both, in my humble etc.”

While straight and gay men alike continue to often have complicated, reductive relationships with masculinity — clock this recent study about feminine men in leadership roles — Offerman seems to have at least this part of the experience figured out.

“If you had gone on to inform me that Freddie preferred the company of gents in the bedroom, and then asked me if I should like to change my list of descriptive qualities based upon that knowledge, in effect asking me, ‘Can a gay man be manly?’ I would have asserted, ‘You bet your sweet caboose he can. Is a gay man not a man?'”

Indeed, when it comes to the hot bears pictured in the pages of Manifest, Offerman assures, “Whether they are about to engage in work or play, the men pictured herein are about as manly as they get.”

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