No Fats: Discrimination in the Gay Community

I have been participating my return to the world of blogging as blogger of IT’S A DONALD THING which began on Blogger in 2010.  Happy 5th Anniversary to IT’S A DONALD THING! There have been lots of things on my mind lately and I wanted to write them all out on IT’S A DONALD THING which is now blogging on WordPress. Things happen for a reason.

There is a recurring issue which has been weighing on my mind for 19 years and I must harp upon it once again in a blog. I blogged about the mainstream commercial corporate gay community’s discrimination against overweight gay men in the original IT’S A DONALD THING and it was edited and re-blogged onto a gay online newsmagazine called GBM News under the editorship of Antoine Craigwell. I once thought the community was a rainbow utopia where I would be loved, embraced and appreciated by other men whereas in the straight community, my crushes on girls were constantly unrequited. I do not want to sound like a self-hating gay man but I will state that I have encountered too many shady moments with shady gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, whether they were at Pride events, affirming churches, cultural activities, Kwanzaa celebrations, social gatherings or parties. I wondered always why some gay people hurt themselves with their mouths which can be nasty and unnecessary at times.  Why couldn’t they address their issues, isms and grievances to their parents, grandparents, guardians, communities, and to the posters, politicians, celebrities, musicians and rappers who remind gay people that they are disliked, hated, maligned, and rejected? Why does the gay community hate those who are considered fat, overweight, obese, heavy, heavy-set, chubby, big, big-boned, thick, pleasingly plump, full-figured and people of size? Some gay people deny the discrimination enacted by gay people who are considered slim, skinny, svelte, muscular, built and anorexic-looking against their bigger gay counterparts. Those who have been in the Life for many years are aware of the No Fats policy in online chat rooms like Adam4Adam and on classified ads in adult gay magazines and newspapers. They are also aware about the invisibility of big gay men at social events and gatherings and snide remarks made toward big men in real-life time, literature and other mass media and popular culture.  Yet the gay community demands total respect and acceptance from straight people. I have been bothered by the gay community’s discrimination against overweight people as a person who has dealt with weight issues all of my life since the age of seven. I always noticed when someone treated me or made me invisible in the mainstream gay community.  I used to respond to that either by eating out of emotion or holding onto the issue or issues for days, weeks, months and even years. I am no longer hurting myself like that so I simply get away from the nonsense by walking away. I address whatever is on my mind with close family members and friends. Instead of grabbing the fastest food, I took the M7 bus on 7th Avenue and 44th Street and got off in front of Whole Foods between 24th and 25th Streets in Manhattan.  I took a peaceful yet teary walk to Sweetgreen, a new healthy salad bar restaurant introduced to me by my good friend, DJMonalisa McCombs, to get a satisfying dinner. I nourished my stomach and soul along with a pep talk with my maternal uncle, Larry McDaniel. Although I was still heavily upset at how a friend of a friend of my best friend shown me discriminatory shade by refusing to sit next to me at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., it quickly dissipated because it made me realize several things: (1) I no longer do not have to get along to get along, (2) I am not a shady gay social butterfly, (3) I do not have to compromise myself for anyone, (4) I am an introvert who is comfortable doing things which speak to me and (5) I do not like associating with conceited, snobby, shady, snooty, siddity and stuck-up people who do not value my essence. I have been in the Life for nineteen years since coming out at the young age of 19 and I have always been the recipient of big boy (fat) discrimination by many whom I thought were enlightened on the basis of sexual orientation. I have always many tears over the years about this. I have considered leaving the gay community altogether because of my refusal to go along with the hypocrisies gay people commit when it comes to mainstream gay racism, colorism, sexism, ageism and sizeism.  I acknowledge sizeism is not exclusive only to the gay community.There are people who exclude overweight and obese individuals in the heterosexual community and I know this for a fact. However, you do see overweight and obese people getting and socializing together and with skinny, slim and trim people. You do see straight overweight and obese people in the mass media. When it comes to overweight and obese gay people, they are always the butt of “fat jokes”, relegated to the margins, rendered invisible, and rejected by and within certain social circles.  Although there are Big Boy and Bear subcultures, they are segregated and looked upon as fetishes rather than normal parts of mainstream gay communities. There were gay sex parties for overweight and obese gay men but I do not know if they still exist. I doubt it very much with a few exceptions at the Big Brothas Network Weekend with secret sex parties. Sex parties seem to be synonymous with much if not all of mainstream gay culture whether the participants are skinny, overweight or/and both so it does not surprise me. I went to a few of the Big Brothas meet-and-greets at Langston’s in Brooklyn, the Dugout on Christopher Street in the Village (Greenwich Village) and Hurley’s in Midtown Manhattan, but always left feeling unfulfilled. I consider myself a chubby chaser but the chubbies didn’t and don’t want me.  I just knew I would hit it off with any one of them. Not! I always found it interesting to see how the same overweight and obese people who were rejected by the mainstream gay community for being overweight and obese were and are the same ones discriminating against overweight and obese gay people. Although I still consider myself a chubby chaser, I will never become a member of the so-called Bear community. I am not an animal so I will never take it to the extreme. I personally would take offense and defense as an African-American to be called, considered or referred to as an animal of any species. I am not a subculture of anyone or anything.

Some people would suggest to me not to take what various gay men have said or done to me regarding my weight, body image and physical appearance personal. Everyone has the right to his or her opinion but I will always take it personal when discrimination against overweight and obese gay men go unchecked in the gay community. I take it personal when I do not see positive images of overweight and obese African-American gay men in the mainstream commercial corporate mass media. I take it personal when the only images of overweight and obese African-American gay men are shady drama queens.  Ray Cunningham played up this depiction on BET’s defunct reality show COLLEGE HILL and an unnamed source told me how Ray was also a drunk.  Alex (Rodney Chester) was the only overweight and obese one in his circle of African-American gay friends which also consisted of Noah (Darryl Stephens), Ricky (Christian Vincent) and Chance (Doug Spearman) on LOGO’s hit groundbreaking comedy-drama series NOAH’S ARC and its spinoff film NOAH’S ARC: JUMPING THE BROOM.  What I loved about Alex was the fact that he was a working man (an HIV/AIDS counselor/educator) with a domestic partner named Trey (Gregory Kieth). However, he was not pursued by anyone on the series and the film unlike Noah, Ricky and Chance. The film shown Alex as the one who exhausted himself with the cooking, cleaning, and preparation of the upcoming nuptials of Noah and his on-off-on-again boyfriend, Wade (Jensen Atwood) at Wade’s family home on Martha’s Vineyard. Some viewers at the New York City premiere of the film equated Alex to Mammy and her alter egos Aunt Jemima, Beulah and Nell. After all, he was the dark-skinned and OVERWEIGHT friend of the bunch! One of the film’s mindfuck moments was when closeted Black British rapper Baby Gat’s  (Jason Steed) cheeky stocky ass was exposed to the film-going public. That was a relief and a release for many because it shown how stocky Black men’s sex appeal can ooze and aaah without the unnecessary fetishization of Baby Gat’s Black male body. One of the characters in the independent and low-budget film CHOCOLATE BABIES was Larva (Dudley Findlay Jr.), who was part of the HIV-positive and AIDS-afflicted LGBT activists of color friends circle. He was depicted as the top drama queen. He had isms, issues and problems with other Black males, whom he lugged categorically as dark-skinned. He later meets another Black man after a year of taking a life-changing year-long break from his friends. Tony Award winning entertainer Billy Porter may be svelte and smooth now but he was once an overweight and obese actor in a film called THE BROKEN HEARTS CLUB as Taylor, a character who broke with up with his boyfriend. The film also starred Dean Cain, Nia Long and John Mahoney.  Reality shows with predominantly African-American female audiences showcase fashion mavens Derek J. and Miss Lawrence on THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA and one of its spinoffs FASHION QUEENS on Bravo.  Derek J. is the heaviest of the two and he is always styling the weaves and wigs of past and present Housewives like Kim Zolciak-Biermann and Kandi Burruss. Miss Lawrence is not totally overweight nor obese but he is definitely not on the slim, skinny and slender side neither as he echoes and mirrors the late entertainer Sylvester James. We see them as present-day reality show mammies who decorate, design and dress these African-American, Biracial and White Housewives. We see the same old and tired Hollywood stereotypical narrative of overweight and obese African-American magical mammies but in the form of gay Black femme drama queens. These are the non-threatening gay guys whom many African-American women love to watch so they can always look to them as media models for all gay Black men: fashion designers, hairdressers/hairstylists and flamboyant (flaming/flamey) drama queens. On the other side of the coin, we do not see Derek J. and Miss Lawrence pursued by those Atlanta and New York City dudes.  Yet the Housewives NeNe, Kandi, Cynthia, Phaedra, Kenya and Claudia obsess, argue and bitchfest about and over men. Derek J. and Miss Lawrence are really comic relief as two sweet gay guys for African-American women as two sweet gay guys for African-American women and too fat and feminine for gay men. Speaking of feminine gay men, many straight and LGBT African-Americans have been attacking Earvin Johnson Jr., the son of basketball legend, HIV/AIDS activist and entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Earleatha “Cookie” Johnson, for living his truth as a gay Black man with his own fashion sense, purse and feminine energies and spirit. He is truly attacked by the gay community for his weight. It is ironic how this is the same community who was given love by Magic through 24 years of HIV/AIDS activism yet many within are taking a shit on his son on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.

There are exceptions to the rule when it comes to positive representation and visibility of overweight and obese gay men. There is an erotic short story entitled “Thickness” by author/activist/media socialite Nathan James which is included in the first mainstream gay/SGL erotic anthology FLESH TO FLESH (published by Simon and Schuster/Atria Books in 2008). In this short erotica, the thick character was loved and desired and had the chance to spend time in bed with a chubby chaser. This was and is a mindfuck because overweight and obese gay men are not supposed to be loved nor desired by other gay men. Comedian Keith Price uses his craft as a therapeutic release as an overweight man of African-American and Honduran descent with his EBONY CHUNKY LOVE shows which I plan on seeing the next time he has it in New York City. According to the mainstream commercial corporate gay mass media, gay men are supposed to be Caucasian, affluent, muscular, in-shape, skinny, slim/svelte, be and look twinkish, and shaking their asses up to the age range between 40 and 50 years of age when life is supposedly over for all so-called queers in gay youthful culture.  Overweight and obese gay men are expected to be rendered invisible, butt-fucked by skinny, muscular and in-shape men who only look to get their dicks sucked or bust a nut or load during secret/clandestine hook-up sessions and quickies, live depressed/depressive lives, staying home to eat a pack of chocolate chip cookies, a bucket of Popeye’s or Crown’s Fried Chicken and some fudge, have mad issues, isms, problems and grievances and be and look desperate for men at every LGBT social event or on the night on the town with other gay men or straight so-called fag hags (preferably best girlfriends).

Spending 19 years as an African-American out overweight gay man has made realize that the mainstream commercial corporate gay culture communities will be stronger once they admit their hypocritical racism, sexism, colorism, ageism and sizeism and work on including those LGBT individuals who do not fit the mainstream commercial corporate mass media’s definition of who is LGBT and who is deserving of media visibility. Overweight and obese gay men will have to be the ones to demand visibility and inclusion within LGBT experiences, lives, cultures and societies. The Bear communities, the Big Brothas Network and Keith Price are already doing the work but it has to take collective communities to start new conversations about weight, health, body image, self-esteem and fat acceptance. Overweight and obese gay men can no longer wait for the mainstream commercial corporate gay mass media to validate, acknowledge and accept their essence, worth and beauty. Like how supermodel Alek Wek, whose Dinka looks once made her unacceptable in the modeling industry, proclaimed during a guest appearance on THE TYRA BANKS SHOW (aka TYRA) how everyone was beautiful. She was and is correct because beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it is really skin deep. A real rainbow reflects the beauty of the universe. Since the mainstream commercial corporate gay mass media and communities symbolize the rainbow, they ought to recognize all of the members of its rainbow family members.

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