Why I Like People Who Hate Me For Liking To Write About Hating My Gay Body

Dear Diary,

Last week I wrote a blog post entitled Why The Gays Hate Their Bodies. Some people loved it, many people hated it, and what I learned was that everyone else is as sensitive about their bodies as I am. My reasoning for posting was threefold. I wanted to expose the conflicted feelings I have about my own body so that other people struggling with the same issues would feel less alone in their worries. I wanted to point out that there are specific factors to being a gay man that lead to us having a heightened self-consciousness about our bodies. And finally I wanted to poke fun at how stupid this whole thing is by satirizing it. Clearly, I have genuine issues with my own body and my own hatred of it. But I also have issues with my issues, realizing how lame it is to spend time thinking about something so superficial.

There were plenty of responses to my post, most of them biting and witty. The award for best title goes to:

Terrible Gay Man Figured Out That Terrible Gay Men Make Gay Men Feel Terrible

The post itself is deliciously biting at times but mostly a lazily written series of quotations out of context followed by a rallying cry for hating me. Which was productive in that the “me” he was railing against stood for body-conscious gays who judge other people based on their bodies. That’s not really me, but I can imagine how the author came to that conclusion. I don’t resent the article and I appreciate its sentiment. But I do think it could have been more fleshed out because the writer is clearly a clever and analytical person.

The Gawker article written by Louis Peitzman was more thoughtfully written and much more nuanced. Peitzman felt I was contributing to gay body panic, which is probably true considering I was talking about my own gay body panic. He also wrote that I told gay men to hate their bodies. This is completely up to interpretation, and I can see how someone would think that. Sometimes, when we talk about things we hate in ourselves, it makes those around us worry about that very same thing. Sometimes the opposite happens and they realize they are not alone in their worry. This is why the responses to my post were so polarized. Some people felt validated and comforted that I shared their body worries, some people felt that as I was judging myself, I was also judging them. Both are valid feelings that are more about the reader than my original text.

Over at Huffington Post, Derek Hartley wrote the type of post I’d expect a friend (or someone who loyally reads my blog) to have. Basically he understood that it was satire, that I am not a gay body hegemon, and that I was writing to satirize a flaw that I see within myself and my community. After reading articles and comments from so many people who read my  post out of context, it was nice to read something by someone who knew my “voice” enough to know I was on his side. I do not want people to feel badly about their bodies. I want the opposite.

By far, the most thoughtful conversations came from the comments field. To be sure, there are a lot of internet trolls out there who got some sweet satisfaction calling me vapid, fat, and ugly, but there were also a lot of people who contributed great things to the conversation about body image. If you haven’t sifted through the comments field, I’d take a browse because there is a lot of helpful insight amongst the angry two-dimensional responses.

Now, I’d like to clear a few things up. A lot of people were wondering if I the post was meant to be serious of if it was a joke. I can see why this was confusing because it was both. Yes, I’m serious about hating my body, and yes I’m smart enough to know what a stupid waste of time that is. When things bother me, I tend to joke about them. It’s always been the way I deal with stuff. I’m self-deprecating about my looks, about how co-dependent I am, and about how sometimes I think about superficial stuff. My hope was that the image of Ursula the Sea Witch and my sarcastic tone would clue people in to the fact that the article was meant as a satire. Of myself. Instead of feeling in on the joke, many continued to satirize me, which was probably the most productive thing that could have happened, proving my point even more that while gay body image is a relevant topic of discussion, it’s also kind of a stupid one.

Another issue most responses (especially the Gawker response) brought to light was that of privilege. My joke about gay men all being wealthy was mainly one making fun of that perception. I think generalizations are inherently funny. It’s like generalizing that all white people love corn dogs. It’s not true but saying it is so ridiculous that it makes me laugh (Sidenote: all white people do love corn dogs. And apple picking. And rural county fairs). The real issue of privilege here comes in all of our privilege to even worry about something like body image. If I had been raised in an area where there was a scarcity of food and I had to worry about where my next meal was coming from, would I have been anorexic in high school? Probably not. The fact that we are even having this conversation is an act of privilege. Which doesn’t mean body image issues are not a worthy conversation. We (most of us reading this) live within our own context as people residing in the first world, and our “problems” exist fully within the context of our [relatively privileged in the scheme of the world] context.

Ultimately, what everyone wants to hear is that we should all just love our bodies. Which is the truth and something we all know. However, if it were really that easy we’d all love our bodies, love ourselves, and be perfectly happy all the time. The fact is that we don’t always love our bodies. We don’t always love ourselves. And unless we talk about why, we’ll never get past all the stupid hang-ups that impede our happiness.

So until we are advanced enough to stop critiquing our bodies and hating them, I will continue to make fun of how much I loath mine. Don’t take it personally.

Love,
Orlando

More Links:

Chris Ryan

Out Magazine

Playing With Politics

25 Comments

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25 responses to “Why I Like People Who Hate Me For Liking To Write About Hating My Gay Body

  1. You are smart, witty, kind, handsome and svelte. It is a pleasure to know you and know that you were a guest at my wedding before fame struck. xoxo

  2. It just made me laugh, and I liked the great photos. I’m glad you posted it! Oh the Internet….

  3. Congrats on your well written and well reasoned response. You really struck a nerve in a funny, smart way. You’re very, very famous now.

  4. Zach O

    Great piece. I have to say your original story hit the nail on the head with a problem that is relevant in the gay male community. Keep it up and stay fabulous!

    xoxo

  5. Wow, I liked the original post and this follow up. But then as you pointed out, I’m a faithful reader and I could see your original post was a mix of your typical serious/satire commentary on your view of your world. I’m surprised that your commentary triggered so much other commentary. But I’m glad you are taking it all in stride because I would hate for you to feel that you must censor your writing because of this. That would be yucky.

  6. Serengar

    Hon,

    you are apologizing for writing your first blog… Turn off!

  7. Joseph

    I was really hoping that your first article would contribute more to a conversation of gay men questioning why BARTENDERS and PERSONAL TRAINERS are held in highest esteem in the gay community. It’s too bad that didn’t / hasn’t / probably won’t ever happen…

  8. txabi4

    I’m not a regular reader of yours – though my boyfriend and many of our friends are. I enjoyed your original article and I find it sad that apparently so many other media sources took it at face value. This follow up post sums your original point much clearer, in my opinion. It’s OK to not be delighted with one’s body and to push for a healthier and (socially and historically defined) better looking body. The important though, as you rightly point out, is that gay men never forget that the important thing is to enjoy life & love while being healthy.

    Personally, only parts of your post resonated with my life. As a gay man fully conscious of my orientation since age 11 (I’m now 27), I’ve never really cared about having a model body, but I do take care of it to be acceptably fit – neither fat/unhealthy nor super-muscled. Your drive to achieve a better body is similar to mine, but I don’t really care that my friends tend to be hotter – which they are. I expect my relationship to be strong and meaningful enough that my bf won’t need to run to a better body, we will be able to talk about how hot this or that friend is, while understanding that what we share is more meaningful than muscles (which will inevitably look like crap come the 40s).

    I think the way we think about ourselves, specially for young gay men, involves how we as individuals react to life. I’ve known many gays who have been bullied and spent, say, most of high school terrified. When some a**holes tried to bullied me, I fought back, HARD. I got a reputation that you don’t mess with me, and after surviving HS and entering the normality of University, I saw that I needed little defending of my lifestyle – most people were cool with it, and whoever wasn’t didn’t have to spend 2 seconds with me, as if I cared.

    Sadly, my own “let me be and I’ll let you be but if you mess with me I’ll fight back till the end” philosophy isn’t the most extended in the gay community, and I hope more young gay men become more vindicative of their lives: being gay doesn’t imply any wrongs, and if someone is aggressive toward you for being gay, use language first to make things clear, and when that doesn’t work and you’re being victimized, defend yourself. Karate classes are cheap, y’all, and will get you that fit body :)

    • txabi4

      Wrong choice of words with “vindicative”. I didn’t mean any revenge-powered attitudes for gay men, but for them to be more defending of their own life-style.

      My apologies for any confusion – English is my 3rd, non-native language.

  9. This post would have been better if it included more shirtless pics.

  10. I was so shoked to read this because I had no idea there was such a backlash! When I read your blog about body image I just thought “oh Orlando, you hilarious hilarious boy”, because I actually read your blog and “know” you and at the very least, your sarcastic voice. It’s hilarious and your blog always makes me chuckle. Glad to see you aren’t letting internet commenters get you down. Regardless, I’m sad you had to go through that because I know how it feels to be misunderstood like that. This is a blog, you don’t write this for the New York Times, so you should be able to say what you damn well please! And I hope you do.

  11. Hi Orlando, Take it from an aging pretty boy who is almost sixty years old, that the body image problem is a generational problem that is relatively new that seems to effect hetero as well as homo. What is so ironic, it all started in late 70′s and early 80′s, about the same time so many Americans became obese. I read your article which I thought was interesting and very, very personel. Profound, in fact, that you were so open and honest. I also read the post knowing you, your age, location, and culture which read white, young, middleclass, gay man living in West Hollywood. None of the above is bad news, just your source of inspiration. Luckily my generation never had this body image problem that so many people of your generation do. So, just let me say in the words of a shallow old friend ” it’s better to be beautiful once, than never at any time. Kevin

  12. macarthursmutterings

    Hi,

    I enjoyed your original article and was surprised at the lack of recognition of the fun/serious take you took by many of those that commented. I also applaud you for responding to those criticism, I had wondered what you were thinking of some of those that commented, or more to the point, what you made of some of the comments themselves so it’s great to see this response. Good on you mister

  13. I found the original post to be genius, and while generalizations are dangerous, was struck by it’s accuracy, all while laughing harder than I have in a long time. Because I’m gay and I hate my body and I have gay and straight friends who hate their bodies. We could all just wallow in a pool of self pity, but laughing is much more fun, so thumbs up for a great article.

  14. Gail

    I’m dumbstruck that your original post resulted in such vitriol. Some people take life/themselves/blogs too way seriously. But hey, now you’ve become more internet famous!

  15. Drew

    It’s your blog so if someone doesn’t like the content then maybe they should f off a little?
    I’m a former hot twink who is now a fat ass and I’ve never been loved by another gay man even when I was hot. I have to love myself and make the most out of my life.
    Yes you are a handsome man but all of us have insecurities because we’re human beings.
    Ignore the haters and continue with your blog and if you piss more people off consider that a creative bonus :-)

  16. KOJohnson

    You’re a brilliantly gifted writer, and a class act. That’s so rare these days! I’m sure that you’ll make the most of it with more good work.

  17. niles

    Your problem is that you think and relate to life like a woman. There are some things we can learn from straight men.

  18. I love that you are not afraid to make light of yourself and at the same time broach a subject that everyone has issues about. Thank you. Also, brave enough to put that kind of thing out there and not snap under pressure from other peoples responses! I think that shows some level of care about the issue and not just about yourself.

  19. Brandon

    I agree with most of the comments here that I was shocked to hear that people reacted to your post in such negative ways. I fully understood that the post was a satire and I think that suggesting it was anything but presents a lack of intelligence. I also agree with everything you said. I am a normal looking 28 year old gay man living in Los Angeles. I am fully aware that I am not terrible looking or fat, yet most of the time I think I’m terrible looking and fat. I also thought the Ursela picture was funny. Please write everything you feel always!

  20. I enjoyed your first post and did not realize there was such a huge backlash from it until I saw this post! I think you are smart to respond to the comments made and clarify any points that might have confused readers, but I think the type of people who would be outraged by your previous post are going to be outraged by anything and everything, so I hope you won’t lose sleep over it. I enjoy your writing style and the previous post reminded me that agonizing over superficial flaws is silly and illogical, but we all do it, so we need to acknowledge it and laugh about it together in order to progress.

  21. Now I just feel silly. I figured as much. I got a little high n’ mighty. *Steps off soapbox*

  22. Aly

    Loved your original post and loved your follow-up. Your satirical writing is what keeps us all coming back! Don’t change. Keep on keepin’ on! xoxo.

  23. I read your first post and thought it was a great, fun way to talk about something personal and serious. I related to it as a gay man living in NYC and a former fat kid with anorexia in high school, etc. etc. I was so shocked by the amount of negative and hateful posts that came after it that I chose to respond via my own blog (http://www.iamdavidj.com/2012/08/why-gays-hate-their-bodies.html). It was cathartic to write about it. I would never have written such a post if there weren’t all those negative reactions to your post. I want to say, thank you for sharing.

  24. Jenny

    Haha! I’m so glad I randomly found your blog!! (by googling “I hate that I hate my body” lol). I relate to you in so many ways (well…except for the fact that I am a straight female ;0)) But I deal with my “problems” by joking about them….i have major body image issues….and yes i hate that I hate my body lol which is ridiculous i know!! Anyways…both posts gave me a chuckle and helped me lighten up about my own issues ;-) Kudos to you for putting it out there! I look forward to reading your blog more! xoxo

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