In the wake of the Chick-fil-A drama there has been a counter argument against the fast-food chain emerge from many folks, gay men specifically, that has me a little mad. I cannot seem to escape the generally gross and hurtful argument, "If being gay is a choice, then why are you fat?" Below you will see one of the popular memes that are circulating like lightening online, and I can seem to hide them fast enough on my Facebook. Every time it appears in some medium online I always see it accompanied by the poster, who is being quite bitchy, stating something along the lines of, "no words needed..." or "right!" or "such simple people!" Through all of this, and all the counter arguments that could be made against these fatphobic people, one thought keeps sitting on my mind: Wait... aren't there fat gay people too?"
We have seen this lack of intersectional thinking before from many mainstream gay folks who decide to become momentary activist whenever the newest hot topic arrives. We continually see this narrative of us vs. them, or gay vs. black, straight vs. gay, and never any thoughts on how the two 'opposing' categories intersect. A few years ago, during the beginning of the marriage equity debates we continually saw the argument that gay is the new black. This argument has some ground, especially when you looking at court cases such as Loving v. Virginia, but what hurts the most from these statements is that no one ever stops to thing wait, there are black gay people. We are seeing this same narrative around 'fat,' or obese, people today.
This anti-fat argument should come as no surprise though. Gay men have been known to be stereotypically obsessed with body image, and when you look at most gay news and press it usually obsessed over the beauty ideal that many will never have. This is not only a gay problem, because any one could pick up of Vogue or People magazine and see this same body image problem is rippling through all communities in America. But many studies have shown that gay men in general have higher rates of body issues resulting in much higher rates of eating disorders. A study by the Mailman School of Public Health and the National Development and Research Institutes reports that almost 15 percent of gay men currently have an eating disorder, making them three times as likely to suffer eating problems as straight men.
The reasons for this high rate of eating disorders are currently being debated. The problem is being blamed on what I say above, gay culture and beauty ideals, while others think it is caused by possible trauma or bullying in adolescence. Beyond the whys and hows of gay men and eating disorders, I think we, as a community, should really think about this fact and then reflect on the fatphobic arguments many of us are throwing at these "simple" anti-gay people who are overweight. Why are we perpetuating hate onto one group, even when they may be throwing some onto us? Have we not learned that golden lesson that two wrongs don't make a right? By continuing to throw the anti-fat rhetoric at the folks at Chick-fil-A, or at the Southern Man whose belly is not your six-pack, we are not only being jerks to people for something that they may or may not be able to control, we are also isolating and attacking people within our own community.
Being fat can be a choice and there is nothing wrong with that. I know people within both the Bear and Chub communities who are beautiful individuals and have chosen to be what society has deemed 'fat' because they are attracted to that. Choice is good; choice is your right as an American citizen. Even if we all did choose to be gay, should the government still be able to decide what we can and cannot do with people who are consenting? No. So can we all please decide, right here and right now, that this anti-fat argument is a lose/lose situation and walk away from it?
Besides, we may want to be careful throwing this argument in some people's faces. If we look at the studies on Gay Genes vs. Fat Genes we may be a little embarrassed. Many new studies are showing that a gene called FTO is strongly linked to obesity and over-eating. That, in summary, we can see a genetic influence to why some people are overweight and others are not. Of course, lifestyle choices and other factors can influence a person's weight, but what we can take away is that, currently, there may be more evidence of a fat gene than a gay gene.