On Being Overweight In The Gay Community
Woody Woodbeck, a regular contributor here at Instinct, is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of a successful and life-changing gastric bypass surgery. To honor the achievement, Woodbeck's penned an inspiring editorial at Huffington Post that details not only his personal struggle, but the general issue of body image in the gay community.
I was a 648-pound gay man. The internal battle I was facing was real. Being gay and being overweight just do not go hand in hand in the eyes of the LGBT community. I was so lost but yet portraying an image of happiness and joy to all those around. This game of emotional masquerade I was mastering seemingly had no end to it. Then I got the call. I was brought in for consultation by the doctor who realized quickly that I needed to have this surgery or I was going to die. After months of preparation, consultations with all types of doctors who had to sign off on me having this procedure, a lengthy 13 weeks of NO eating and drinking Medifast (a medical shake that gives your body the basics of what it needs to get through a day) prior to the surgery to lose 10% of my body weight, and pure and utter mental exhaustion; it was time. My family and friends stood by my side as I underwent a procedure that could have killed me or changed my life forever. The recover time for me was quick and challenging but freeing. The pounds fell off week after week, month after month, year after year. I saw myself changing and becoming the man I always knew that I was but was too scared to be. Even though at the time, being gay was still looked down upon, especially in the small communities that lie within the Upstate NY area, I was able to be myself and share that with so many people.
The LGBT community has this internal fear of themselves and body image nightmares could not run more rampant. I would be lying if I said I don't have self doubt, deal with body dysmorphia, or worry about the way I look every single time I walk out of my house to go to my work place, or step into a gay club, or go to an event where my LGBT peers will essentially be judging me. Over the years of promoting, I've seen how others tear each other down (I know I've been victim to it), judge each other, and write off people before they know them because they look a certain way. Now if a magic lamp with a genie in it were in my back pocket, changing this would be one of my three wishes. Judging others is NOT something I want to define me as a gay man. For that to change, we must create that change. Not everyone can be strong. Not everyone can look past rude comments or shady eyes that are thrown their way. This disparaging treatment of others will be our greatest downfall. How can we truly get a respectful acceptance from others when we internally are being unjust to those in our own community? I believe the key is to not allow the power to be placed into anyone's hands that can ultimately define who you are. As cliché as it sounds, we all are who we are. No one can change that. No one will ever change that. If we think about how we want to be loved and how it feels to love; why wouldn't you want to feel that incredible sensation all the time? It's indeed MAGICAL.