The “gay community.”
For many individuals who are first coming out, the gay community is romanticized as a place where they can find love and acceptance. And yet, unless you are a white, “masculine,” cis-gendered male, the gay community can be anything but a welcoming, safe social sphere. However, as raised in previous posts such as “Picking the Rose” and “The Matching Hypothesis” perhaps one silver bullet to cut through the dominant power structure and gain acceptance is to have a ripped bod, with chisled abs and firm pecs. For better or worse, physical attraction holds enormous influence on whether one is deemed worthy of attention in the gay community. And attention becomes a stand-in for acceptance.
Of course this “acceptance” is based on external attributes, a shaky foundation to place one’s self-worth once those looks inevitably fade. But one can argue that “looking the part” can serve as a gateway tool, attracting initial interest from others so that they are invested to learn more about one as a person. In fact, I would say that all of us, to varying degrees, have modified our appearances to societal norms of attractiveness. So where do we draw the line? At what point does “body positivity” become a privileged statement, where some are blessed with the right genetics to transform themselves to match an “ideal” beauty standard but others cannot?
How do we balance the tension between recognizing we should embrace being ourselves and the pressures to conform to a discriminatory, looks-based ideal?
After all, it’s easy to say that “looks don’t matter” and that “personality and content of character are more important” but in practice, reality is more nuanced than these noble goals.
I’m curious to hear what others in the Community have to say on this matter.