28 November 2012

Big Women, Gay Men: A Different Sorta Love

Oh Huffington Post, how I love you. You must be my favorite newspaper in the world. Time and time again you feature plus-size bloggers and columnists whose witty banter and unique perspectives on large lady news and culture always amuse and amaze me. Yesterday I came across another new article called "A Plus-Size Woman Out With A Gay Man: Don't Assume You Know Her" by the blogger Amelia, and instantly started giggling. Like Amelia says, stereotypes come from somewhere -- and the "fat woman & gay man beard/fag hag" cliche stems from the fact that chunky ladies and gay men seem to gravitate toward each other...but unlike the stereotype assumes, this has nothing to do with seeking feigned intimacy or sex. It's just something that happens, sort of like the cheerleader falling for the meat head jock.

I for one certainly fit this cliche in high school. Somewhere right around sophomore year I reached an all-time peak in my weight. I was around 230 pounds and a good three inches shorter than I am now. I didn't consciously make a decision to seek out gay friends, but it did end up happening. The town I grew up in (heaven for the white, wealthy, racist, bigoted suburbia lover, but hell for anyone with an actual personality) was definitely not friendly toward anyone who didn't fit their goal in creating a sterile utopia, and its high school epitomized that. If you were punk or goth, you were pretty much guaranteed a slushee in the face (no this doesn't just happen on Glee). If you were black, well, certain members of the football team would probably be beating you up in the parking lot with no consequence whatsoever. If you were gay...forget about it -- that pretty much gave everyone license to haze you. And if you were fat, or not even fat, but just somewhat overweight, you were pretty much in the same boat. Suffice to say...I hated high school. I had a few close friends who helped in getting through it, though, and as I think about it in retrospect, they were all either equally or more pudgy, closeted bisexual girls or openly gay boys who had it way worse in terms of teasing and torture.

In her article, Amelia talks to Ashley Fink, the proud and loud plus-size actress best known as her role as Lauren Zizes on Glee and publicly best friends with fellow castmate Chris Colfer (or Kurt as you may know him). Amelia and Ashley essentially came to the conclusion that the bond that often arises between fat girls and gay men comes from the fact that both are used to a hell of a lot of public criticism, especially during teenage years. Thus, they’re drawn to each other because they already have the common ground of being picked on and bullied. And when it comes to big girls, hanging out with fellow females could put them at risk of being the "victim." They will always be the fat girl in the group, the one who can't share clothes or often shop at the same stores. By hanging out with gay boys, there is no need to shop at the same stores anyway and body comparisons aren't really possible. Ashley also brings up that for her, it's much easier to stay true to herself around gay guys; she doesn't feel judged or pressured into being some sort of Hollywood princess. She can just chill out and have fun.

Another point the gals bring up is that both fat women (though maybe this is relevant to all women) and gay men have complicated relationships with straight men as they grow older, and so it's easier to cultivate the friendship between each other instead. In reference to the girlfriends/wives of straight men, she said, "They've not understood how their boyfriend can be totally in love with me as a friend. They act like I'm competition." But then there's gay men..."There is something about being 100-percent yourself without the worry of the sexual attraction." Though I don't think this is something fat-girl specific, it is definitely true. Friendly relationships between straight men and women get harder to maintain as you get older and start dating seriously or tying the knot. I mean...it's nearly impossible for friendships to stay the same once someone is married and we all know that. So perhaps continuing to bond with gay men is just simpler...and perhaps more fun too.

I must admit it bitterly pains me to hear the rumor-mill spouting out BS about gay men and fat women using each other for sex or intimacy, as though they couldn't possibly get sex or intimacy from anyone else. Amelia brings up that most of the articles she's found on the subject are written by very thin women and are all along the lines of, "those poor souls, they have no one but each other." Right. Obviously no straight man would ever want to date a fat chick when he could have a skinny one. And yeah, clearly there are so few gay or bisexual men in the world that they won't ever have a partner. How absurd are those comments? I'm getting twitchy just writing about them. Yes, gay men and fat women often have close friendships. No, this doesn't mean they are f***ing each other. Gasps. Breathes out. It's true that big women may have to wait longer to find men who like fat and gay men may have to wait longer to find guys who like penises than thin women or straight men would wait to find partners, but this is simply something else that brings the two together. Clearly there is a relationship that grows between chunky ladies and gay guys, but has anyone ever stopped to think that maybe this is because fat girls and gay boys enjoy each other's company? As Fink says in her Twitter description, "Life is all about finding people who are your kind of crazy."

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