I’ve been thinking a lot this week about gay standards. In particular I’ve been thinking about gay double standards.
In my blog Bear With Me, I touched on finally finding that feeling of belonging. The feeling of being appreciated for exactly who I am and what I look like by a community of men who instead of mocking my bitch tits and less than sparse arse, celebrated the bumps in my blouse and the stretched seams in my jeans.
True, I do feel wonderfully accepted whenever I’m in a bear bar, but the truth is, I am a bit of a fraud.
Even while writing that piece last week, I was enduring yet another massive sugar crash as I began yet another diet to try to lose yet more weight so I could feel comfortable in my own skin on the other 90% of the scene.
This week I’m doing LCHF.
The still fairly controversial in the UK low carb high fat diet has been proven to work miracles for my weight loss in the past, and though some foodies or health freaks may still be harping on about how it will kill you, I’m deciding to take my advice from the Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment who have recently started to retrain and re-educate healthcare professionals in the ways of LCHF by embracing it fully.
For those of you who don’t know what’s so brilliant about this diet, it’s this.
YOU CAN EAT AS MUCH BUTTER, CHEESE AND CREAM AS YOU WANT.
You also don’t count calories and pretty much don’t need to exercise as you retrain your body to burn fat for energy instead of sugars. Yes, that’s the downside; no sugars including fruit (you also have to figure out how to deal with ketosis) but the upside is that once you’re through the sugar crash and withdrawal, you feel massively energised and your clothes don’t leave marks on your skin.
If you want more information on LCHF I’m sure that a debate will spring up about it in the comments very soon, but my real point is this:
As a community brought together by a common experience of being outsiders and being different from everyone else, once we find each other and our own special corner; we hold each other to impossible standards.
It’s a sentiment echoed in Steven Shaws blog for HyperReality last week Sam Smith & the Gay Male Body Archetype
In the past year I went from 100kg to 80kg and relaxed. I felt good about myself. As someone of average height and build I just about managed to fake it under the hideously hostile neon lights of the Edinburgh gay scene. Sometimes I’d even breathe out if we were on a dance-floor and there was smoke. Friends told me I looked healthy and my parents seemed to stop worrying about outliving me.
Over the next year, my weight began to sneak up on me. Occasional treats became the accepted way of life. Work took me to New York. Of course I need to eat pizza. Adelaide. Of course I need to drink Coopers IPA all day every day. Orlando. Of course I’ll keep eating all this amazing soul food and feel great about myself. I’m in fucking Florida. I could gain 40kgs and I’d still be able to hide behind most of these people.
When I weighed myself last month I was very close to 90kg. That’s halfway to undoing all the good I did before. It made me feel sick.
I have a friend from college who’s the same height as me. He also weights 90kgs. But he’s not fat. It’s not muscle though that makes him less fat than me. It’s society.
Have you ever noticed that there’s a difference between gym fit and gay gym fit?
Straight boys can head out to the pub, drink beer, eat pies and play football at the weekend and that’s a perfectly acceptable level of fit. It doesn’t matter if they have a beer belly. Their girlfriends and wives will still love them. Maybe they let them off a bit because as women they’re already downtrodden by impossible standards in the media and life in general.
But gay men. Men who are attracted to men. Men who more often than not have experienced the same kinds of persecution throughout high school are themselves going out to clubs and pubs, holding others to impossible standards and contributing to their own vicious cycle of self loathing every time they aren’t the shape of a Calvin Klein model.
I wonder what would happen if we all got together collectively and said:
“Fuck it, I’m not doing this anymore”.
Could we actually affect a change? How many of you would be happy to admit that you hate the gym and that you only go to increase your chances of getting laid? Think about it. When was the last time you actually enjoyed a night in a trendy bar where you relaxed your posture on the bar stool for long enough to actually feel relaxed?
Breathing out is not a liberty.
So next time you head out on the scene, try emancipating yourself from all of the incredibly vacuous limitations you’ve put on yourself. Maybe once you do, the person at the next table will and you’ll start a ripple of change in a sea of spray tans and quiffs.
And if that happens, let me know.
Because right now, I’m nowhere near brave enough to take that chance and the only Bear Bar left in Edinburgh has an awfully handsy bar tender who never takes no for an answer.
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Barry Church-Woods is a perfect homosexual living in Edinburgh, Scotland with his civil partner Josef. He works for the largest arts festival in the world and still finds time to swear and drink martinis. He dances like no-one’s watching but THEY ALWAYS ARE! Today he smells of Givenchy Gentleman because he is one. Sometimes. Follow him on Twitter.