<21 lgbt youth voice – The Shame in Body Shaming

As members of the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual/allies) community, we’re expected to accept – and even like — almost everyone who’s discriminated against, whether they’re part of a minority group or even because of their weight (no matter what type of person they are). A line often repeated to me is, “you can’t hate them, you’re gay!” — as if my being gay prevents me from holding disdain toward another person for their actions or words. I wish I could say that my being a homosexual gives me the magical ability to have no negative opinions of a person at all, but it doesn’t.

But I do try to judge people on their actions, not their appearance. Recently I had an experience where people didn’t show me the same courtesy.

While at PrideFest in Kansas City, I wore a bright yellow ensemble that showed off my (in my opinion) marvelous legs. It included a cape (that I sewed myself, I might add) and short shorts, with a cheerful yellow T-shirt to hide my embarrassing midsection. If you went on Friday, you most likely saw me dancing and enjoying my time like everyone else.

Well … kind of enjoying my time.

This ensemble attracted both positive and negative attention. Although I felt perfectly comfortable wearing my golden shorts, the stares that I attracted suggested that I should feel otherwise. However, I was not inclined to do so at all and continued to enjoy my second PrideFest, ignoring the negative stares and accepting the positive comments.

With time, the negative stares that I received began to eat away at me, and yet I thought: Why did it matter how I was dressed, as long as it didn’t affect them? Especially at a venue that often touts images of buff men in their skivvies and fabulous drag queens caught halfway through a lip-sync. To me, some of these images can be more “shocking” or even more “offensive” than a man dressed in a bright yellow cape and short shorts.

Soon it began to dawn on me what the difference was between me and a buff man in his skivvies: the fact that I wasn’t buff. If I were society’s definition of “attractive,” my outfit would have gotten a much more positive reaction.

It’s a sad thought that just because I don’t have the best face or the best body, people frown upon my wearing something that someone more attractive would be congratulated for wearing.

As members of the LGBTQIA community, we should accept not only the ideas of freedom of speech and freedom of sexuality, but also freedom of body equality. As someone who is overweight, I should have the right to wear what I wish, even if it “offends” someone. As people with differing sexualities, we have a responsibility to accept each other’s looks before we start judging their personalities.

Although being gay doesn’t allow me to ascend above having negative opinions of other people, I don’t look at someone and immediately say, “I will not be friends with them. I do not like them.” It’s not their looks that might turn me off to them. It’s how they act toward me, gold short shorts or not.

To use a well-worn phrase, don’t judge a book by its cover, even if its cover is a golden cape and short shorts.

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