Please read the comments to this post…Jay provided some very valuable feedback!
For more than a couple of years I have had this “HIV inside” t-shirt and I can count on one hand, with two or three fingers tied together, how many times I have been bold enough to wear it in public.
It’s not as if I don’t look like I have had HIV for a long time. People in the gay village are familiar with ‘the look’. I’m as thin as a rail from head to toe with places that are supposed to puff out instead puckering in – specifically my cheeks, all four of them
Craig, during his last years, was thinner still. The polymyositis had withered his thighs almost to the size of my forearms. My legs aren’t a whole lot bigger, mind you, and it hurts to sit on typical café chairs, or even home dining room furniture, with my non-existent ass.
Alas, I complain. But I was going somewhere with this.
I am looking for a word to describe the looksism – and maybe that’s the word – that I see within the gay community, to be sure, as well as in the media in general. Our value as persons is so often, in my view, assessed by our physical attributes. I was reminded of this by Pissed Off Housewife’s rant against fat-as-a-human-right (if that properly summarizes her point). Obviously I have no personal experience with being overweight but, while I hate being this thin, at least I can see my toes.
Here’s how I see the looksism on Church Street (Toronto’s gay village), and it hits its peak around Pride Festival time (ironic?), which begins next Monday. The teens and twenty-somethings are ideally either thin twinks (which, for their age, is perfectly acceptable – even desireable to some) or they have been working out in weight rooms since high school and are, therefore, quite muscular. Of course there are exceptions which maybe I ought to focus on more.
The thirty-to-forty year olds are, again ideally, built like brick shit-houses as a result of hiding in gyms all winter or are self-identified bears. These bears (oh, yes, and cubs), in my view, have a healthier attitude (if not a healthier diet) about their looks. In fact they actually aren’t the least bit attracted to flamboyant twinks or the gym bunnies. Again, there are exceptions. Perhaps, by default, I am in the bear/cub camp although, having said that, I must say that I am not too dogmatic about my preferences. Okay it’s more than a pulse that’s required, to be sure, but I would just say that I have eclectic taste. What I have lacked is the self-confidence to pursue a meaningful relationship with anyone.
So if confession is good for the soul, and not just because of some edict from The Holy See, I have revealed a little of my inferiority complex/pet peeve within my “community”.
I know that it is not just the gay male community that focuses on the superficial, as evidenced by western culture’s fascination with celebrities, but at this time of year, as Pride unfolds close to home, I sometimes feel a little less than.
End of whine. The pity party has adjourned to the bathroom.
So, if wearing my “HIV Inside” shirt seems a little inconsistent with my low physical self-esteem, maybe by flaunting it I am empowering myself out of this looksist funk in which I find myself.
Considering how much I have survived (do a search within this blog under “trauma“ for starters), May being the 18th anniversary of testing HIV-positive for example, I need not be a shrinking violet. Nor do I seek pity. Honestly.
In my best moments I can appreciate, rather than envy or resent, the physical beauty of the human condition. And we all have more beauty than we can recognize in ourselves.