Being a single gay man living in New York is not as glamorous as you may think. Women tell me all the time that I’m beautiful, that they would date me, and that they will willingly carry my children one day. Unfortunately, that’s not how I see myself every day. Trust me it’s just as hard to look like Ken as is it is to look like Barbie.
Gay men can be very judgmental when it comes to body image. The demand to be physically fit like an Abercrombie and Fitch model is so intense at times that some buckle under the pressure. Sometimes, I feel the pressure and it’s heartbreaking to know that some guys won’t even speak to me because of the way I look. I’ll be honest; I’m no underwear model, but girl, look at that body. I am beautiful and you are beautiful.
Just because a group of people tell us that we should look a certain way doesn’t mean that is the only way to look. We all come in different shapes and sizes. We all come from different places and experiences. No one can tell you that you are not beautiful because beauty is not something you can define. Aesthetics are different in every culture, group, creed, and discipline. There is no handbook or instruction manual on beauty.
The only advice I can give is to be confident and to see the beauty in yourself, but believe me, it’s not easy. I struggle with it myself. Sometimes you look in the mirror and you’re not happy with what you see, but the thing that people find most attractive in a person is confidence. If you can shake off the feeling of inadequacy and see that beauty in yourself, others will respond to that. People respect confidence and when you feel comfortable in your own skin you can see it; it radiates.
My best friend Matt and I talk about this subject more often than not, because sometimes we both feel like wall flowers in room full of weeds. However, let me tell you, we are two strong, willful, and passionate men, who happen to be gay. We are not afraid to hold our heads high and be proud of who we are, even when we’re feeling less than our best.
It’s extremely hard to find and keep close friendships in a community that sometimes is focused a lot on body image, forget about trying to find a date. That’s why I’m lucky to have such a great friend, even if he calls me names while I’m trying to write my column.
Because of the pressure on gay men to look a certain way there has been an influx of eating disorders and steroid usage among many young gay men. It has affected the community in very negative ways which, considering the amount of negativity already aimed at the LGBT community, is something that no one should have to feel.
Legendary Gay icon, RuPaul, has a saying: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” We should remember to take the time and love ourselves for who we are, not for who someone wants us to be.