Join The Movement, the newsletter that tackles the justice issues that matter to you most. We had been texting for a week or so and as the texts evolved, we showed less clothing and more skin, but I was reticent to lose my shirt. I am a man of a certain size. I'm pretty sure if you split my weight in two, you might get two skinny-but-not-too-skinny people.
As I thought about putting my bare hairy stomach out into the world, I couldn't help but wonder Tumblr To find out more, I spoke to other gay men of size about dating, sexting and the bear community.
And, like me, his journey to the shirtless selfie was a lifelong one. And, growing into his gay identity has meant refusing to hold standards put upon him by his own community. The first time he saw someone living a life that he hoped to live one day was in a church youth group he attended. The mentor, Gabe remembered, was a gorgeous, gay man of size. And you're this gorgeous big hairy dude? Gabe told me that his therapist once said that eventually someone would say it, but Gabe didn't believe him.
He thought he was paid to say that kind of thing. The first time someone told Gabe he was the sexiest man in the room, he was in a gay bar in Michigan. Robert Lopez Robert Lopez had similar disbeliefs about the trajectory of his life.
Lopez began to gain weight rapidly when he was about 8 years old. It wasn't until decades later that a doctor told him he probably gained weight because of undiagnosed sleep apnea. By the time he came out at 14, his family accepted him, and he was happy, except for the nagging issue of his weight.
The man put his hand on Lopez's stomach and said, "If you lost this, you'd be sexy. It was this epiphany moment, and it was like, 'You know what, I am sexy. Lopez said his whole world changed then, but that it's still not without its pressures.
Are you a big boy with muscle? Are you a total chub? While it has been a refuge for almost every person I interviewed, it's also come with its own weird set of expectations about who you can date, whatever size you have to be.
Many respondents told Mic that the bear community was a surprising, welcoming refuge from spaces that might have been less friendly to their weight. But, many also said that there are very few sexual or romantic depictions of big men.
Who are the visibly gay, overweight men out there? Though each talented in their own right, none were ever explicitly sexual or sexualized. Diaz said that this lack of visibility of husky gay men has had an immediate mental impact on him, a person whose weight has fluctuated throughout the years. While the date went well enough in person, when he went back home, the man messaged him with a simple offer: If you need a fitness instructor, let me know.
But during his single years, the bars were often unwelcoming to people of his size, he said. Diaz also said he's found refuge in the bear scene. But when he does enter mainstream spaces, he often has to arm himself with his own personal mantra.
He learned about his body as a straight man: He dated women until he was There was a pervading culture of slim body worship that turned him off. Now, it's not the elephant in the room anymore. So I really felt like I was being made love to for who I was entirely and for more than just my sexual organs.
To really make love to someone is to enjoy every single inch of them. Raul Quintero Raul Quintero spoke to me about what happens when the search for that feeling of being appreciated for your size can go to extremes. Quintero spent a few months in gainer and feeder culture, where men worship men with big bellies, and some go to extremes to gain weight.
Quintero has seen videos of men eating lard and funneling gallons of milk into their partners' guts — because of a sexual attraction to bellies.
He met men who brought him to restaurants just to share in the experience of watching him eat. With one man, Quintero made a list of restaurants where he wanted to eat in Los Angeles and his date would bring him there and watch him eat.
Comments from his family members, even his own mother, who is a fitness instructor, fueled this fear. This led to a fear of being fat in childhood. Even that his name rhymed with "fat" was a lot for Johnson to handle as a child. His own problems with his weight didn't allow him to enjoy the experiences.
Though Johnson describes himself as "bear adjacent," he credits experiences in the New York City bear community with a better body self-image. I wasn't just an erotic object. He'd only go to gay bars where he knew he wouldn't be the biggest person in the room, so that his tendency to compare his size with others wouldn't hinder him from having a good time.
They're not thinking about me. They're thinking about themselves, so I guess, you know, it took me a while, and now I can go to any gay bar and not really care. Physical weight is not always the problem — sometimes, it's the mental weight that accompanies it. That's the anxiety that I felt the day I got the request for a shirtless selfie.
In the end, the man who received the text loved it — a lot. So whatever bundle of insecurities that flared up in my stomach was quelled for the moment. And to get there, I only have one thing to shed — shame. Some people have chosen to withhold their full names to speak freely.