I started off this post as a “Behind the Cast” which for those who aren’t frequenters of the site means it’s an article about something going on in my personal life. And, while that category fits, I decided to change it to the broader category of all-things-gay because I realized this isn’t just an issue that I’ve faced.
Basically, I’m here asking: “Why is it okay to hate the skinny gay?”
Since birth, I’ve been thin. Never had to work for it and never “escaped” it either: my weight (and very likely high metabolism) have been extremely constant throughout my 28 years. Growing up in the 80s and 90s it was frequent to hear the overweight kids get non-stop abuse in the school yard and on the weekends: today, that has definitely taken a shift. While of course there is continual bias against fat people, a shift in the mean body size of Americans and Canadians towards an all-time extreme high has seen the world and public institutions try to become more and more PC and faster to react to hatred against hate speech regarding overweight kids. As a gay, adult male, I’ve seen this shift in our culture as well. Sure, you’ll hear the whispered comment about the overweight guy stuffed into a pair of 32’s, but overall, what’s acceptable to say to each other and out loud is very different.
Personally, I have friends from all walks of life: different ages, races, heights and importantly, different sizes. Some of my friends are very much the “muscle types” in our group while others are content calling themselves “average” in weight: still, others hit the polar ends of the spectrum and range from what would be considered very overweight to very skinny. Now, maybe it’s just my friends (though, I’m not exactly just polling 13 people here), but I can honestly tell you that the only ones ever commented on in a negative or “this is what you need to fix” way are the skinny boys and to a much lesser extent the average size guys. The gym bunnies and fat friends are left without a mark. I don’t understand it at all.
To further distinguish the unique brand of treatment the skinny guys get, while I say the average size guys get commented on, it is to say that they’re often encouraged to hit the gym by the muscle friends or- if they’re attempting to alter their weight which they often are- are asked with genuine interest by their friends how their diet or muscle building endeavor is going. What have I heard asked of the skinny guys? “Why don’t you try eating more?”; “How many times did you throw up today?”; “You look like you’re about to die.” Though it sounds pretty melodramatic, I would say in an average two week period I’ll hear those phrases at least a couple times each. I know you’re likely rolling your eyes about the poor thin kid who can’t take a joke but how would you react to hearing a serious conversation that included: “Why don’t you eat less?”; “How many meals have you had today?”; or, on the other end of it “You look like you’re injecting you’re traps are disgusting” or “You look totally unnatural”. As I’ve said, I’ve got friends who are fat and friends who are huge (including both steroid users and not) and I can say I’ve never heard those comments in casual conversation and can only imagine their reaction if they were told those things.
What spurred this article was a conversation with two of my more extremely muscled friends who informed me with completely straight faces, that if I would gain 10 pounds of muscle, I wouldn’t be single. I literally had no reaction except frustration knowing that the skinny guy “has no excuse”. Where our culture rewards the gay male who eats nothing but chicken breast, wild rice and creatine while attending the gym 6-7 times a week, hearing “I’d hope a guy would like me for more than just my biceps” is unheard of. No, this isn’t every gay male out there I speak for- but it definitely is a lot of them. Personally, I am sexually attracted to a bigger guy (I also don’t mind hairy as heck and 40, but I’m pretty broad in interests). I enjoy a guy who works out and has a healthy attitude about exercise because it usually indicates to me they’re focused and able to dedicate themselves. I- and I’m sure many other lean guys out there- have a really hard time putting on weight and so stay fit by playing soccer on 2-3 leagues at once and play every other night during the week. I ski and run frequently and am very serious about my health. So, to hear: “That doesn’t count- when’s the last time you bench-pressed?” from close friends just tells me that there’s something not quite right with how we treat certain members in our community.
I’m loathe to stereotype an entire faction of gays- specifically the gym boys- and dismiss an obsessions to get bigger as a symptom of megarexia, but I write this to say that there is something to be said for understanding those different from yourself. In a recent article about my New Year’s Resolution wherein I describe a conversation with a friend who suggested I need to: “Be like the person I want to be with” and reject it outright because while I love a 6″3 man, I’m not about to get on the rack and pull my ligaments 5 inches in all directions while simultaneously putting on 40 pounds, I explain that for the most part, my friends have tried to convince me that the only way to get noticed by a handsome, built guy is to be one myself. I’m sorry, but that sort of arrogance and condescending message just doesn’t fly with me.
First, I honestly don’t believe they would be nearly as brazen and confrontational with our fatter friends and second, I don’t think the world is quite as superficial as many of us are led to believe. This is hardly a calling to all those gays out there who see past sizes, but rather a standing up by one skinny kid saying that too often my portion of the gay population is seen as easy targets that don’t deserve the common courtesy the rest of the gays do. We’re all gonna make jokes to make ourselves feel better about our too-often self-conscious selves, but between friends at very least there needs to be a shift. Some thin guys want to get bigger, some want to stay the same and hell, some want to trim down even more, but anyway it is, I think it should be their decision and not just a source of easy humour for the rest of em’.