Sep 3, 2016

Body Shaming, Bullying, and Just Being Mean

You grow up an outsider, constantly excluded, demeaned, and ridiculed for being gay.

You're called names, yelled at, told that you're a sinner, a pervert, a monster striving to destroy the society, as well as a frilly little lacy thing fit only for doing manicures and shopping for shoes.  You long for things to get better.  You long to find a place where you belong, a home.  And one day, you arrive.  You escape from the grim homophobia of the Straight World, find you way to West Hollywood or the East Village or another gay neighborhood.

Open up the closet door, watch out, here I come!

A new guy, nervous, scared, wounded from a lifetime of homophobia, but certain that here you will find friendship and love.

Instead, you are excluded, demeaned, and ridiculed.

Gay men -- your family, the place where you belong -- stare, snicker, and gossip about you.

Everyone travels in tightly-closed cliques, impossible break into unless you're dating one of them.

And dating is impossible.  The competition is rough, and you are constantly being rejected, for the most trivial of reasons,

You're too tall or too short, too fat or too thin,too old or too young.  Your chest is too hairy or too smooth.  Your penis is too small.  Your ears are too big.

I've never been shamed for my weight or size, but when I was a teen I got it for being too swishy, in West Hollywood I got it for having a red birthmark on the back of my neck (of all the crazy things to notice!).  In the last few months my age has been starting to cause some "instant blocks" on dating apps.

I've never understood why many gay men are so quick to demean their brothers for a physical trait that they have no control over, as if it is a moral failure or evidence of weakness of character.

You don't get a small penis because you are a bad person or have an inadequate personality.  It's purely a matter of genetics.  And there's nothing whatever you can do about it.

You can't help getting older. It is a fact of life, not evidence of a moral shortcoming.

If you are fat or thin, you can theoretically go to the gym, but for many people weight management is very, very difficult, a life-long struggle with their metabolism.

Demeaning and rejecting someone on the basis of his physical appearance is known as body shaming today, but back in West Hollywood, we called it "being mean."

It's a form of violence.  It sends a clear message that the person being shamed does not deserve friendship or love, should not be seen in public, indeed does not deserve to exist at all.

That's a very strong message to be sending with a sneer.

In West Hollywood, my friends and I never refused to interact with people based on their physical traits.  If they said "hello," we said "hello."  And if asked to share a friend's boyfriend, we never refused.  It was basic courtesy.

This is a new world, but still, there are ways to be inclusive and welcoming without going home with guys you find unattractive.

1. Remove specific requirements from your online dating profile.  Reading "must be height-weight-proportionate, hung, under 30, masculine" over and over is like getting a dozen rejections without even talking to anyone.  Don't mention your tastes in men at all.  You won't be inundated by gorgons, believe me -- you're not all that. And it won't kill you to chat with someone skinny, swishy, small beneath the belt, or over 30.

2. Save Attitude for the rude guys.  In public cruising spots, people often give Attitude, pretend not to see, guys they are not attracted to.  Again, you can feel rejected a dozen times without ever interacting with anyone.  Save you Attitude for guys who make crass, boorish come-ons, and deserve to be ignored.

3. Talk to guys outside your comfort zone.  If you usually hang around with bodybuilders, talk to a fat guy.  If you like them under 30, talk to a 60 year old.  You'll find that they aren't much different from your usual contacts.  They have the same desires, dreams, hopes, and fears as everyone else.

4. Find something to like in everybody.  The most hideous guy on the planet has something attractive about him.  He tells bad jokes, has an interest in Star Wars memorabilia, or he spent a summer in Brazil.

If nothing else, he has survived a childhood of incessant attempts to force him to comform to the heterosexist mandate or kill himself.  He's still here.  That, in itself, is impressive.

5. Don't reject guys automatically.  Sure, you are especially attracted to guys who are muscular, hairy-chested, big beneath the belt, big-eared, between 40 and 50 years old, and have pierced nipples. Goatees and hook earrings are an immediate turn-off.  But the gay world is small, and there aren't ,many guys who will fit your exact requirements, be into you and available, and have personalities that you can stand.

Try someone who does not fit your ideal of the perfect man. It won't kill you, and afterwards, if you still don't like him, no harm done.

6. Reject guys based on social criteria.  If you must reject someone, before or after a hookup,  say "sorry, I don't think our personalities are compatible" or "sorry, I don't think we have enough in common," not "you're too fat" or "your penis is too small."  That is, something that is no one's fault, rather than a physical inadequacy.

The uncensored post, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood

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