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Essay: The Impossible Elevation Of The Body In A Gay Man's World

by Cator Sparks on 4 November 2010

Writer and Editor Cator Sparks explores gay beauty standards in a personal essay.

Writer and Editor Cator Sparks explores gay beauty standards in a personal essay.

Ever since I have come out of the closet I have had horrid body esteem. And frankly no matter how much I work out, I’m never going to feel comfortable with myself. At the most I have been a size 33 pant, never over a medium tee-shirt and yes, like many gay men, I have been known to enjoy having my clothes 'fitted'. But damn if after I lost a couple of pounds when my ex and I split about nine years ago did some queen come up to me and say, 'Wow Cator, you look great! We were worried about your weight for a while.'

Excuse me? Are size 33 pants considered 'Big Gurl' in the gay world?

Then there was the time I went to the über cool store in New York, Seven. It was when As Four was really becoming known and I was contemplating buying a pair of those jeans that cost something like $444.44. I swagger in and ask to try a pair. They give me a medium. I can’t even get my leg in. They dig for a large and I can’t even get them over my hips. I turn on my Cuban heel and take the walk of shame. The next night I see the As Four’s out at a now defunct super hot spot and explain my situation. They just kind of laugh, feign concern and eye me head to toe before I slump away.

I will never have that six pack unless I win a million dollars and hire Britney’s trainer and even then it would be doubtful.

Being gay and not having the perfect body sucks. And even if you are not fat, you either have to have a six-pack or be waif thin. But what about boys like me who are from the South, like to eat fried chicken on occasion, grits on Sundays and gluten to the max chocolate cake on my birthday? I feel like I am on a constant diet and I go to the gym about five times a week. Yes I’ve definitely changed my shape but just last week I was on the dance floor and I did my favourite Lady Miss Kier booty dip and my jeans ripped straight up the ass. Nice! (I was sort of proud actually and I certainly got a round of applause)

But after all these years I am coming to terms with my body. Whether I like it or not I have been categorised as a 'Bear'. I guess that’s what gay men call hairy, not waify, bearded men. I have learned that most new, hip, euro designers don’t make clothes for me. I find great cuts at J.Press, Brooks Brothers, J.Crew and other more formal (read normal human) institutions. I will never have that six pack unless I win a million dollars and hire Britney’s trainer and even then it would be doubtful. And I have learned that I don’t really mix well with those Fire Island queens who spend the winter gym-bernating so they can strut their bronzed bodies all summer. So far I haven’t found much behind those muscles.

So I want to give all those average sized men out there a big ol' thumbs up. If you can get a six pack good for you but I’ve found just as many men out there eager for a little love handle or someone who they don’t have to keep up with on the tread mill. We are men damn it! I don’t want to hear about juicing before a swim party or cutting out dairy before a wedding. I want my meat and three and a pint of beer please! But also remember, no muffin tops.

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