I’ve been an out and proud gay man for 20 years now. Coming out so young in life (around my freshman year of high school), I’ve been fortunate enough to have grown up in a conservative area yet was never bullied or made to feel less than due to my sexuality. I had the same experience when I went to college in New England for five years, and even though my experience with the gay world there was small up until that point, it was never negative. Then I came home to New York City, where things became drastically different for me.
I never saw my size as a hindrance growing up. What was a hindrance, however, was being gay: not because anyone picked on me for it but because I truly was the only out person in my school and felt somewhat like I was in this heterosexual bubble that I couldn't get myself out of. I needed to be around like-minded people, which is why I chose to go to college in an area that was known for its acceptance of the LGBTQ community.
Weight became an issue for me when I tried to enter the gay community in NYC when I was around 23 and got the sense that your overall being can be judged very heavily (no pun intended}. This include factors outside of size such as race, economic background and an array of others facets that for someone as young as I was became a bit much for me to handle.
I would walk through Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen, workout at the local gyms and consistently be surrounded by men I saw as inferior to me. This caused me to constantly compare myself to them and wonder where I could improve as a result. The funny thing is, I never did this growing up. I felt like all of this was making up for lost time as both men and women tend to do these things to an extreme when they are in middle school & high school as this is when insecurities breed on such a higher level as you are stuck with hundreds of the same people daily.
This time around, it was happening in my adulthood and I feared that it would send me into a depression if I didn't get some sort of validation from this community on the point that even if I had a great personality, charming and/or funny, that it really came down to if I was good looking or not. Sad but true, a good part of the gay community relies on vanity in order to determine friendships, f**k buddies, relationships, and so much more. Deny it as much as you want, but it’s true.
My weight has spiraled up and down over the years: my lightest I was at 215, heaviest I was at 270. Now I’m somewhere in the middle and can honestly say that I am content with where I am. So, what caused this shift in perception several years after my initial fears were brought to the forefront? It’s simple- you start to realize that all that chaos that you create in your head is just that. You hopefully develop a maturity as you go throughout life and realize what’s truly important to you and the high school bulls**t you thought was vital to your everyday life becomes non-existent. I’m happy that I have never really conformed in this community when it comes only hanging out with a certain body type or group as the years go on.
I still deal with the shade that comes with this community, the gossip and some of the negative connotations associated with. We all do; however, I try not to let it get to me anymore as all that is simply is chatter. I'm aware of who I am and my worth and that has taken years and years of confidence building and a great support system to understand that. Even if your situation seems bleak, understand that there is at least one person who greatly cares for you regardless.
See the positive, see the glass half full. Find that unconditional love that is important in life.
This was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.