Peering behind the mask
The Lake Oswego chapter of the Nation League of Young Men (NLYM) will be hosting a community screening next month of a film that explores what it means to be a man in the modern world.
The film, "The Mask You Live In," follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America's narrow definition of masculinity, according to the filmmakers.
The NLYM screening is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 7, at the Lake Theater & Cafe (106 N. State St., Lake Oswego). The screening is free, but donations of non-perishable food will be collected for the Oregon Food Bank.
None of the NLYM members have seen the film, which means they'll be watching it for the first time along with the community. But the movie's message is consistent with that of the organization — a group of young men and their mothers who focus on philanthropic work throughout the community.
The NLYM is a national organization; the Lake Oswego chapter which was the first to start in Oregon, launched in 2015.
"We are a chapter filled with women and young men who are visionary and hardworking trailblazers," said former NLYM president Coventry Boucher, who helped get the chapter off the ground. "Together we are creating something that wasn't here before, finding ways to make a difference, and putting in the time and effort to do it."
Like the NLYM, "The Mask You Live In" aims to show how society can raise a healthier generation of young men. The pressure that young men face from the media, their peers and even adults contributes to the way boys and young men see themselves, the filmmakers say, and their project explores how boys are conditioned to devalue authentic friendships, objectify women and resolve conflicts through violence.
The film screening is one of many events that the NLYM has been involved with recently. Earlier this year, the young men and their mothers collected 126 pairs of cleats, four dozen soccer balls, 31 practice jerseys, 63 pairs of shin guards, 72 pairs of soccer shorts and 69 pairs of soccer socks; all of the gear was scrubbed clean by NLYM members and shipped to the Casa Bernabe Orphanage in Nicaragua.
"Having philanthropy work has helped us grow closer and has given us volunteer experience," said Alex Phillips, president of the NLYM Class of 2020. "During philanthropy events, we have become friends, and I believe having these friendships makes us look forward to future events and meetings with our NLYM class because doing it together makes doing it fun."
The NLYM also helped facilitate Down Syndrome Network Oregon's annual Buddy Walk in downtown Lake Oswego. Ann Whalen, who, along with son Marcus, is a member of the NLYM, said the Buddy Walk was a particularly fun event for the young men.
"It was a wonderful event to learn more about challenges individuals and families affected by Down syndrome face and overcome, and how important community support is," said Whalen. "I am proud of the groups who came to support this event."
In November, the group traveled to downtown Portland to serve food to the underprivileged at "Potluck in the Park," one of Oregon's biggest hunger-fighting events.
In addition to community service and philanthropy, NLYM members have the opportunity to listen to a variety of guest speakers and attend cultural events. Last year, Clackamas County Deputy District Attorney Chris Owen taught them about drinking and driving, and its severe consequences. They also visited the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Portland Art Museum, and held an Irish cultural event where students sampled traditional Irish food.
IF YOU GO
What: "The Mask You Live In," a film screening hosted by the Lake Oswego chapter of the National League of Young Men
When: 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 7
Where: Lake Theater and Cafe, 106 N. State St., Lake Oswego
Cost: Free, although donations for the Oregon Food Bank will be collected