Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I'd rather be

At the end of a recent post, Bigg said,
But that's the tragedy of being gay; not that we are so oppressed (because that's what makes you strong), but that there are so very few of us. Kinda makes me wish sometimes that we really could recruit the way the televangelists say we do, you know?

The first part of this quote has been stuck in my head since I read it, and it's been joined by another line that was said to me at work recently.

There's a guy there who is, while not especially fat, certainly contains a bonus share of girth. One of my first days I referred to him quite thoughtlessly as "biggun." I admit it was shitty, but to my lame credit, the moment he said something about it I stopped. I've even pointed out to another employee that it was sort of shitty to continue to refer to this person in terms of his weight issue.

This same large coworker was recently making jokes about my gayness. I truly don't want to be overly sensitive, and I don't expect the entire kitchen to restrain themselves. I understand fully that I work in a professional kitchen and that the norms of the environment require that we all be a bit thick skinned. But I also support the right of everyone to be able to feel safe and respected within that environment. I won't stand for racism or sexism at work, directed at me or at anyone else, and I also won't take homophobic comments.

I will remake the point regarding the environment. It's a kitchen. I understand and accept exactly what that means. I know the cucumber joke is going to come up, and I know I can either counter it with a snappy comeback neatly skewering the person making the joke, or I can fully agree with the comment and give them the shock that comes with that.

The large coworker, though I now don't recall what was said, was making comments that I felt were a little over the line. There was a certain intent in his voice that bothered me. I took a moment to remind him of the "biggun" day, pointing out that based on a single comment from him I had ceased making size based comments and had not made those comments since. If I thought that would help I was mistaken as his next comment proved . . .

The line that keeps running through my head much like a song that gets stuck, he said, "I'd rather be fat than gay." Of course I immediately told him I'd personally rather be gay, but how much can that really help when someone's opinion of you is automatically less based solely on such a minor detail as sexuality?


Michele said...

Actually, you brought up a good question there Sam. I wonder if it's easier to be fat than gay or vice versa?

We have a weight obsession in this country that often verges on bigotry. People are supposed to come out of the closet and be proud of their sexuality, but we would laugh our asses off if there were a "fat pride" day.

Well. Is it a choice to be fat? Perhaps. But I say an obese person desires food in the same way a gay person has a desire for the same sex.

I'm thin and straight. I haven't chosen to be thin and straight, or make the decision based upon some foundational belief I can hold over someone's head. I just don't care for food as much as a heavy person, and while I can appreciate a pretty girl, the idea of her getting busy with me is nauseating. If I lived in a world where it was looked down upon to be thin and straight, I would still be thin and straight...I would probably have self esteem issues though. I might even resort to name calling:)

Why would anyone choose to be ridiculed? Both of you guys are swimming upstream. I'd say fat and gay have a lot in common, but I would also say that society is pushing very hard against homophobia, but the pressure on fat folks to conform is epidemic.

Another question is, is it harder to find love as a gay person or as a fat person? You could put an ad in the paper stating that you were a gay male looking for companionship, but how pitiful would it look to put an ad in the paper saying you were a fat male looking for love?

(probably more than 2 cents there, huh? But so much to discuss)

Michele said...

regarding my earlier screed...I should have added the caveat that I am referring to issues surrounding casual and broad social situations and not close family ones. I'd guess it's harder to be gay in front of your dad than it is to be fat in front of your dad, and that may make all the difference.

Okay, I'm shutting up now.

samuel said...

Thanks for the screeds, Michele. You bring up some great points as well as something I'd thought but didn't include in the post.

Regarding fat versus gay one thing immediately jumps to mind. As a fat but straight person one is still surrounded, regardless of girth, by people who are more like than not. One need only walk out the door and spot the nearest person and chances are that person is straight.

I can go weeks without seeing another person that I know to be gay, and the fact is, the only gay male I can say I actually know is me. I have some acquaintances who are gay and male, and I have a very few lesbian friends.

So, if I'm looking for any sort of gay companionship I have a very few options.
-live as I have and hope for luck to somehow meet some people like me
-online-ack-a world of casual and mostly anonymous sexual encounters, again ack
-bars, and while I'm not against gay bars, I don't really enjoy myself there as the "scene" does not consist of much I'm into

And finally, another something in the gay versus fat. Gay is not a choice or a lifestyle as many people seem to think, and I'm not suggesting that you suggested it is. But we do have to admit that many people seem to assume such while having no real understanding of gay. It's a hardwired truth that one can choose to embrace or not, but one's happiness throughout life certainly depends on how much they feel they are able to be that person they know they are. I won't argue that fat is a choice as no one chooses to become fat, but it is an issue that can be addressed by anyone who is fat for reasons of overeating as opposed to people who gain weight because of medical issues, and it is itself a medical issue at some point as the extra weight begins to create a myriad of health issues(heart conditions, joint problems, etc.)

Finally, I feel some mention should be made of people who have personal issues that are manifested in overeating which leads to weight gain, but I'd also put these in the column of people who have any number of addictive habits because of some unrelated and untended to issues, for example, abuse as a child.

I don't know if any of what I just said makes sense, but I've reread it twice now, edited it even more, and I'm at least making sense to me.

Michele said...

Bunch of random crap to consider and in response:

With all the addictive things you mentioned and the health issues, childhood issues etc. Fat sounds even harder to me now. I still contend that weight is not really a choice, you can change being fat, but only on the outside. Isn't it sad to be hungry all your life just to get acceptance from the outside world? Fat and gay have a lot in common there.

About outside acceptance:
Fat people have a huge industry devoted to getting them thin. There's a lot of guilt-mongering involved in the enterprise, and everybody wants to change you. I watch "Biggest Loser" and think it's the cruelest bread and circus out there. It's not healthy the way they are losing weight, and they are not expected to love themselves until they win. There is a lot of internal pain and external pressure with being fat.

Outside acceptance with "gayness": I think general society has given up on the idea of "reforming" homosexuality and treating it as a disease. Churches that push this idea are considered backwards,(well not in the south at least) and psychologists who practice it risk their jobs. Gays are no longer expected in our country to pretend, or hate themselves, or change. People who treat gays that way are rightly called bigots. There is often a great deal of internal pain though. I've seen quite a few gay friends suffer from it.

Gay people do have communities. I guess the question is whether you have a cynical outlook on the spiritual, political, and social issues that may muddy up the whole thing, but there are groups out there none-the-less, and ways to meet people. There are even the Log Cabin Republicans and the Pink Pistols. (I know. I'm trying really hard to be tolerant of your lefty lifestyle, but I'll change you yet!)

In the effort to make you feel more positive about things: Wouldn't you say it's a good thing that there are a lot of very good looking gay guys out there? It was always bad for me. I liked the snappy dressers who never liked me.

Also, I've made quite a few friends online than I never would have expected to meet otherwise (including yourself), because I opened my mind to it. I would say with the internet, it is much easier these days to get into a healthy sexual relationship than it would have been in the gay-bar and bath house days. You can weed out the creepy people safely and anonymously. Of course you might accidentally hook up with a morbidly obese guy, then what would you do?

Michele said...

I meant "everywhere but the south at least" on that church thing.

Anonymous said...

I think your "biggun" comment stung more than you know, and at this point your apology is not going to be accepted with any sort of grace. Or at least that's how I'm reading the situation from what you've written here.

And as a straight not-skinny not-fat girl... I'd rather be a lesbian than fat. People everywhere are just horrible to fat people, and here in lovely liberal la-la land no one looks twice at two girls/two guys holding hands. If you're fat, though, hoo boy, everybody and his brother makes it his business to make sure you know just what a disgusting creature you are. (Please note that I'm not down on fat people; when I see how my fat friends are treated it makes me want to stab people's eyes.)

Seriously, though; you could move to any large-ish coastal-ish American city and find yourself a nice little gay niche. A fat niche is much harder to find.

Ren said...

I'd rather be lesbian than fat. The choice has absolutely nothing to do with how society perceives either, but how *I* would want to live.

As a lesbian, I would look and feel the same as I do now except be more attracted to women. Fine. I'm cool with that.:)

But if I were fat, it would change my entire life. I couldn't do many of the things I love to do as well.
It's a practical thing really.

I hope they lighten up on you.