Normally I use this blog to vent out my personal feelings, reveling in what accomplishments I made and noting what steps I still have to take personally. But recently there’s something that’s been making headlines, at least in some circles, that I felt motivated to comment on.
And it all boils down to an article of clothing. More specifically, the “no fats, no fems” tank top you may have seen making its way around the Internet (this article should help shed some light).
Am I altogether surprised at the backlash its received? Not entirely, because I know as well as anyone that there are a number of gays out there who this tank top directly applies to. They proclaim these things to be preferences and attempt to shield the fact that it’s prejudice or, worse, racism. They not only refuse to date, but also associate with any guy who doesn’t fit into the stereotypically “perfect” model of being a fit white gay man with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a love of all things Beyoncé.
What I can say personally is that the majority of guys I’ve been attracted to have been white, yes, but has this been the case for every guy I’ve crushed on? Honestly, no. Other nationalities have been mixed in there. Other body types have weaved in and out as well. I truly strive to not have a set definition of who I am attracted to or what I’m specifically looking for, because I believe the more you try to hold a checklist against a guy, the worse your chances are going to be in the long run, especially if you get into a mindset of refusing to work around certain roadblocks and obstacles that you may view as “deal breakers.” Love should be more than that. No single person, gay or straight, is perfect, and the process of love is knowing someone isn’t perfect and knowing it doesn’t matter. Is it important to have some idea of who you’d like to date? Of course, but should that be the only thing you constantly take into consideration? I don’t believe so.
There’s little doubt in my mind that peer pressure may factor into this somewhere as well. Many people aim for a good reputation, and the mere thought of being seen or being with someone that others wouldn’t deem as an ideal companion based on physical traits alone would be viewed as damaging. Do I personally believe this for myself? No, but do others? It’s a possibility.
One of the first things I’ve quickly realized since being exposed to gay Twitter is that many guys adore, idolize, and worship those who are physically attractive. There is a definite attraction to guys who are handsome, beautiful, and other similar adjectives. But what they, in most cases, fail to comprehend is that beauty is only skin deep. A guy may be pretty to look at, but how is he going to treat you? What’s his personality like? What would he do if you got sick, or got in a situation where you needed help? How a guy treats you, in my opinion, is far more important than how he looks. Do looks matter? To a degree, yes. Any person should give the appearance that they take relatively good care of themselves, but does that mean every single person should be thin, have clear skin, good hair, good teeth, and so on? No, because like any standard Crayola box, people come in all sorts of shades, and one of the biggest things in life is learning how to color with what you get in your box.
This tank top isn’t something that should be seen as offensive, because the offense has been here for ages. The gay community as whole, since way before I realized I was gay myself, single-handedly cultivated messages like these, and promoted a sense of internal stereotyping within our own community, amongst people we should be the most supportive of: Each other. Everyone is attracted to whoever they are attracted to, and sometimes yes, these may or may not always point to people of different ethnicities, body types, personalities, and so on. People as a whole deserve the right to do whatever makes them happy, without judgment from others, because at the end of the day, the only person you have is yourself. However, what isn’t okay is closing yourself off to a world of opportunity, and taking a chance on someone you may not initially think you’re compatible with.
Grindr is a prime example of this close-mindedness, where for the most part, unless you are physically flawless, the majority of guys refuse to pay any attention to you whatsoever, whether you initiate the conversation with a simple “Hello” or with a picture of your ass (though usually the latter may result in more replies). Some guys refuse point-blank to explore a world beyond the one they know, and step outside of their comfort zone, and yes it can be terrifying, but how can you expect to develop as a person if you refuse to talk to someone who may not be deemed as “attractive?” Where will that attitude get you in the real world, where you can’t simply block someone if they repeatedly try to talk to you because they “look gross.”
We have no reason to expect anyone to accept us if we can’t first and foremost accept each other. We don’t have to be best friends with every guy we come into contact with, but acceptance will go much farther than, for example, suggesting a feminine gay is less of a guy or more inferior than someone else simply because he’s feminine. The only ones who can destroy this narcissistic subculture are ourselves.
Not everyone has to date someone who is fat, or feminine, or black, or transgender, or anything that fits outside that pre-determined average of being gay. But we should, just maybe, use this tank top as motivation to break down one of the oldest ideologies amongst us, and realize that, yes, it is okay if you aren’t thin, or a different ethnicity, or if you’re gender fluid, or anything along those lines.
You may be pushing your own agenda by proclaiming what and who you are only interested in, but those words you’re broadcasting may be inflicting serious harm on those who may read it. Words can have a much deeper impact than you realize. It’s okay to love who you love. That’s why we are thankful to have marriage equality. But everything has another side to it, and thinking about how your words are seen from someone else’s point of view and perhaps changing that may, by chance, lead you to more interactions with guys. Who knows? Perhaps even a boyfriend. And even bigger implications beyond that to boot.
There’s a similar tank top with another prominent saying, “masc4masc,” which, again, if you’re only attracted to other masculine guys, that’s great. Good for you. But the message these tank tops are trying to promote is that we, not just gay guys but people in general, need to have open minds about everything, not just dating. The more risks you’re willing to take, the more rewarding your life will often turn out to be. Spending less time shutting down a certain demographic, especially when it comes to unchangeable elements like race, will more than likely lead to you being a much happier person.
And that, in my opinion, is worth far more than $28.50.