All names used in this and future columns, including mine, are fictitious but the events are real.
You see us everyday yet most of you probably never give us more than a passing glance, and if you do happen to notice us the thoughts going through your mind more likely than not are of disgust and mockery, while we may see you and think, 'Wow I wish I could be like them! They have it made!' After that fleeting moment we just go on with our lives as you do but what we feel lingers after you have forgotten us.
So just who, you're probably wondering right now, am I referring to? Well, I'm a fat gay person, just one of an ever expanding (no pun intended)! minority that most of the gay community, and probably the rest of the world as well, would like to see wiped off the face of the Earth. As other minority groups like to say, regretfully with anger in the voices and text, we're here to stay and you'd better accept it. However I'm a bit different, and if you're not repulsed simply by the fact that I don't have a thirty inch waist and "perfect" body, please read on. You just might learn something new and get a fresh perspective on what it's like living on the other side of the gay world's tracks.
In a country filled with "all you can eat" buffets and catch words in food advertising that are all synonyms for "large", it's not hard to see why the obesity rates are climbing everyday. You can go to a famous fast food restaurant and pay a few cents more for a portion that's twice as large as what you may have originally wanted. Hungry? It's almost impossible not to run into food being sold, and even places like gas stations are more likely than not to sell more than just gas. Go see a movie and your nose will pick up on the popcorn being sold before you're even past the ticket taker.
My parents have told me when they were growing up that in school there were just a handful of overweight kids, and they are both younger than forty. Now it's been estimated that one in three kids are obese or on their way there, and even countries filled with traditionally skinny people like Japan and China are seeing fat kids for the first time. Type 2 diabetes, the kind most commonly refereed to as the "adult onset" variety is being seen is children, and not in small numbers.
I'm not trying to put anybody down who happens to be fat, but I'm just trying to tell it as I see it. I'm fat too, so at least I understand what it's like, and unless you've been there you don't know how it feels. That's what led me to Oasis in the first place, because even though I've been a regular reader for the past two years, I've seen very few columnists remark about fat people, yet we're everywhere but nobody seems to want to see us.
Think about it, how many fat people do you see on TV shows who are not obsessed with eating, or are portrayed as creepy characters that can never be trusted, or are the bumbling sidekick? Not too many. Shows for kids and teens are even worse, and believe it or not fat kids get the message they send out loud and clear: You're a second class citizen, Fatso. Get used to it!
Magazines are filled with ads showing super skinny models wearing, well, sometimes not much. The illusion they create of being super skinny is just that, most people couldn't wear the clothes they model in. If you're a guy, once you get past a thirty-four inch waist finding pants with legs that aren't enormous is almost impossible. Trust me, the last thing most fat teens want is to look even bigger than they are! I've heard that one of the reasons baggy jeans became popular is because a large number of teens just couldn't fit into the straight legged ones. What do you do if you're a jean manufacturer and you're customers can't fit into your product? Create a trend with a product they can fit into. Instant gold mine.
An estimated one and ten people are now or are likely to become gay, and if you take that number and match it up with the one in three that are or likely to become obese, well you have a lot of fat gays. The gay world as a whole seems to prefer to ignore us, and even though we're all over the place, gay publications and websites generally act as if we don't exist. Well, folks, you're just hurting yourselves. Maybe you don't see the dollar signs, but do I have to say what would have happened if the jean makers ignored their customers and didn't alter their product to fit our needs? I didn't think so.
The Bears, you say? Silly me, I forgot to mention them. For those of you not familiar with that word in a gay context, a Bear is a general term used to describe a fat, often middle aged and older man who has lots of body hair and is proud of it and loves showing it off. Other terms used in Bear culture are Cub, which is a younger fat man or teen who possibly aspires to one day become a Bear, and a Chaser is someone not necessarily a Bear or Cub who is attracted to Bears and Cubs. There are a lot more terms used but that's enough for now.
If you're a fat and gay male chances are you'll be automatically categorized as a Bear, whether you are one or not. Like it or not, the gay world is so closed minded that they can't see a fat gay guy being anything other than a Bear, and if you're a gay fat teen then the message you'll hear eventually is simple: You're a Bear, you better love and want to be a Bear because that'll all you can ever be or like. Either join us and place us on a pedestal or we will hate you.
Anybody see the problem there? Anyone?
For starters, not every fat teen is attracted to hairy, older men. Some are, and that's fine with me. Whatever you like you like. What I have a hard time with is the attitude that you either are one of us or you're against us. I mean, some gays are known for being open about their sexual orientation, they do all the things that is expected of them and they appear to be happy. Great, more power to them. On the other side of the coin though you have other gays who look at them and think, what do I have in common with them besides being gay? I'm nothing like them but that's how I should present myself to the world? Thanks, but no thanks!
Even people united under a common cause or group have differences in opinions, and at the end of the day I don't see for the most part that anyone is really right or wrong, they're just different. As you'll learn in my future columns, because of genetics and personal interests, I'll never be what is considered a Bear, and I'm not about to become a Bear Chaser. Yet chances are the gay community will prejudge me and refuse to see me as anything but a Bear, so I have to do what to me is the right thing.
I'm not a Bear, and don't think about calling me one just because I happen to be fat. I'm gay, and I'm just as much a member of the gay community as any one else is. I'm just larger than you may be, and chances are I'm looking for many of the same things in life as you. Who knows, I just might end up being your best friend.
If you can even see me.
Spencer is a fat eighteen-year-old who just might be you next door neighbor but you'd never know it. He is a home schooled high school senior who probably has many of the same interests as you do, you just have to ask him about them. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org