Are Overweight Men in the LGBT Community More Stigmatized?


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For most people, weight is a black and white issue. If you’re overweight it means you’re unhealthy, if you’re underweight it means you’re unhealthy, if you’re at an appropriate weight it means you’re unhealthy, but if you’re at an obnoxiously stacked muscle-enhanced gym-addicted sculpted physique, you’re perfect.

This is a topic no one likes to talk about because no matter what you say, the subject of health seems to overrule everything. If you’re fat, you’re “unhealthy.” It’s like a paintbrush that wipes away all other arguments. This is a terrible misconception that has been proven wrong by scientists for years. For a bigger person, coming out of the closet is half the battle. The real journey is finding acceptance from the vast majority of judgmental eyes.

Comments about your weight never stop long after you come out as gay, which makes me wonder, are big people in the LGBT community more stigmatized? The unfortunate truth is that they’re stigmatized everywhere – not just in our community. We might say we want equal rights, we might say we don’t judge people based on their looks, but in the end, how genuine is it?

I knew a guy in college who was overweight and afraid to come out of the closet. Being raised in a strict Baptist home, it was clear he wasn’t going to do it anytime soon. Much to my surprise, he racked up the courage. He later confessed to me that it was one of the biggest leaps he’s ever made, but even long after coming out, the insecurities about his weight didn’t disappear. The same people who encouraged him to be his real self were the same ones patting his belly, saying, “Getting a little tubby, are we?” Not to mention, the guys on Grindr were soul crushing. I used to hope he was just the exception, but unfortunately his story is shared by countless of other men.

Everyone has a different experience. There are tons of people in the LGBT community who love their bodies and hate it when other people think they’re sad, insecure, or lazy. Certainly this is enough to drive anyone mad. Gay culture today is dog-eat-dog in that we’re always fighting for some kind of acclaim – we often use each other as tools; and since weight is something anyone can point to it’s become an easy target to judge a person on.

In a world full of stereotypes, being big automatically turns you into a “Bear” or “Chub” and being too skinny turns you into a “Twink” – all words I never use in my daily life. How can anyone fulfill their potential when we’re literally throwing our own self-esteem at the mercy of others?

We can preach all we want about how tolerant we are, but it’s very obvious that bigger people are forced to stand in the back of the bus. It’s easy to point at them and say they’re putting themselves in that position, but the truth is something is terribly wrong with our society. I don’t think it’s going to change over night, still, at some point everyone needs to wake up and smell the unfairness.

It seems like gay people are more prejudice about weight than they are about race, age, and any other issue prone to misconception. It’s not unusual for a bigger person to feel like an outsider in his own community. How have we let this continue? More so, how can we try to stop it?