Just over a month ago I wrote a piece in reply to a list published in Out Magazine. Titled “100 Hottest Out & Proud Celebs” it was a list of nothing but slender to leanly muscled gay men. It appeared that the criteria for inclusion was “Have a body fat percentage in a single digit”. As I said in my reply – and in a Facebook comment underneath the original list – it was the equivalent of a dating profile that said “no fatties”.
Out is a publication that claims to be “The world’s leading gay fashion & lifestyle magazine” but that list reflected a narrow definition of what being “gay” means. Exclusion carries with it the undercurrent of privilege, of discrimination, of malice. I can’t fathom what possessed Out to create a list that tone-deaf but I assume it thought it was holding up a mirror to those it thought were its readers – younger, mostly white, exclusively trim.
Of course, my comment attracted the ire of the mean gays.
“Get a life. It is just a list. Geezus. NO PC 2016.”
“You cannot force people to find fat attractive. Mainstream society does not deem it so. And for you to be offended by it is even borderline stupid because it is something you have 110% control over”
“What’s wrong with “no fatties?” Did I miss something that politically made them attractive just because no one wants to be offended?”
“The majority of gay men aren’t into “bears” get over it.”
“Fat people are not hot they’re unhealthy”
“You know what? Stop bitching and make your own list.”
In fact, I took the last one to heart and did just that. And for the record, I wasn’t “offended”. Months of that orange cesspool Donald Trump thrust in my face from literally every media outlet has caused me to develop an immunity to offence.
I’ve often heard comments like this during my life. “How can you like THAT?” I was once told by an acquaintance when cruising guys in a club. Apparently, I wasn’t supposed to find a beefy hairy guy attractive. I really need to start reading my gay newsletters.,..
And you know what, the mean gays are right – at least some of them are. You can’t force someone to find a particular type attractive. But that doesn’t change the fact that some of us DO find larger men appealing.
As I also pointed out on Facebook, the original list was in a “community” publication and the “community” is not only wider than just slender and muscular men, it also contains people who prefer the huskier types shunned from the list. “If Out wants to pretend to represent a wide variety of people then it needs to rethink itself,” I remarked. “Otherwise it should just call itself Out White Skinny Men and be done with it.”
So you can’t force attraction, but you equally can’t deny it. And you certainly shouldn’t ignore it, not if you intend to continue to “lead” the gay community. That’s Out’s word, not mine. If they want to be “leading” then they should show some actual leadership. True leaders represent all their followers, not just the skinny ones.
Am I just shouting the wilderness? Is everybody happy to continue to read “leading” gay publications that are happy to ignore huge chunks of the gay community? If someone can prove that I am wasting my time then I’m quite happy to get off my soapbox and head home. For the record, I am not a fan of the wilderness – mainly because it contains an alarming lack of indoor toilets.
Of course, I know I’m not alone. My comments on Facebook got likes – a lot of likes. And while the internet has given us the ability to retreat to our specialist communities and publications there is something to be gained about staying in the main tent and not allowing the bullies to shame us outside.
I know that change takes time (and sometimes never comes). So I guess I’ll be writing more columns complaining about under-representation in publications like Out. I’ll continue standing on my soapbox, shouting in the wilderness a little longer. As I said, the plumbing out in the wild is awful. But, on the plus side, the wilderness is full of bears.
In ONE MILLION DOMS Dominic Sheehan comments about political stuff. Yes, the title is a parody of One Million Moms. No, he was truly not “offended” by the list. Yes, he thinks bullies use the concept of offence to belittle and minimise opinions that contradict their own. Yes, he invented the phrase “mean gays”. Seriously, he did.