Learn to love yourself
I recently performed at the RVT for Kimono Krush, always a fun gig but I had a tiny rant on-stage. I picked up a copy of Boyz magazine and asked the audience “Is this what we've become?”
I didn't intend to aim my vitriol at the mag directly but the gay and lesbian press and visual media in general is rather particular about how people are supposed to look.
One thing I have always liked about the gay male scene is that there is a whole spectrum of physical 'types'; clones, muscle marys, chubs, twinks, bears, scallys etc etc and all are fetishised but what I think is the most attractive 'type' is one that doesn't fit into a coded stereotype. It's not 'normal' as that suggests mediocre, its simply sexy.
They don't wear their sexuality as a uniform to define themselves. Some have hair, some don't. Some look ridiculous, other blend in. Some thin, others fat. Some follow fashion, others casual. They have no visual code to bind them, its inner confidence that makes them sexy. Confidence is key. Most of these men are over thirty and perhaps have gone through their youthful and sometimes precocious experimentation phase before realising they don't need to conform to a box. It's as if they acknowledge that the images advertising and media force upon us are false, unattainable, inane and driven to make money. With knowledge, comes power, divided by confidence and you get sexiness.
Recently I've heard from three very different 'types' of gay men complaining that they had to go to the gym/get spray tanned/not eat anything as it's so difficult to physically keep up with their peers. What kind of people are they trying to attract or friends do these people have if they they have to forgo being happy and look like carbon copies of each other to feel good about themselves? I generally find the more vain people are to strive to fit an image box, the more boring and miserable they are, their every action consumed by their appearance.
A lot of of this is sexual competition but a pumped up, A-sexual, hairless chest might be good to jump around on for a bit but it won't make your heart sing or talk to you about anything except waxing and protein shakes.
Last week I sat opposite a woman on the tube who was pretty, slim and well dressed but reeked of insecurity. She looked every woman in the carriage from top to toe, judging them with a smug smirk or look of disdain. How dull and shallow her life must be that she spends her time criticising and comparing herself to strangers? Suffice to say, when it was my turn to be scanned and she grimaced at my scruffy trousers and tatty trainers, I laughed out loud. Yeah I'm overweight and relaxed in my day wear but how others judge me isn't a concern. If they're that shallow and don't like me as I am, then they're clearly not worth my time.
To quote Ru Paul (who paraphrases the Dali Lama*) “If you don't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?'”. I'd like to round up the insanely image conscious, body dysmorphic, tanorexics, gym maniacs, calorie counters and fashion fascists, give them a shake and an almighty hug because lets face it, what we all need is love, understanding and in some cases, a big fat pie.
As for the lesbian media; I do not identify with it at all. It disturbs me .... but that's a another rant.
* Dalai Lama “If you don't love yourself, you cannot love others. You will not be able to love others. If you have no compassion for yourself then you are not able of developing compassion for others.”