I'm From Driftwood is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit archive for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer stories. New stories are posted on the site every Wednesday.
Jason Wimberley was a ballet dancer and had the body that typically accompanies the sport. In high school he weighed 119 pounds at 5'11. His tall, thin body was celebrated in the dance world. Combined with his dedication, hard work and dancing skills, Jason was offered scholarships to some of the most prestigious schools in the country. Jason recalls:
I was always celebrated for being long and lean and the thinnest one in the room and it just reinforced that in my head. So it just sort of became this thing where I had to exaggerate the aesthetic and after all those offers I just realized I needed to keep it up as much as I could.
While Jason was celebrated for his aesthetic on the stage, there was one place he went soon after where his look was met with either jealousy or sizeism: a gay bar. Jason remembers one of his first experiences at a gay bar when a stranger approached him:
[H]e literally walked up to me and said, "You know, men are gay because they like men. You should think about putting on a little muscle next time."
At the time I just sort of questioned him, I didn't know what he meant. I was like, "What do you mean? I came out when I was 14, I've been gay my whole life, I'm a gay man."
And he just repeated, "Men are gay because they like men."
And he walked away.
The experience left an impact on Jason, leading him to do whatever it took to change his appearance based on what others thought, no matter how unhappy it made him:
I ended up taking testosterone. I thought maybe I needed a little help to get that muscle on, to be the man that can attract men because apparently someone thought I wasn't. And it was hard. It was one of the worst things, if not the worst thing, I've ever done to myself. My body was a wreck, I felt horrible every day, I broke out everywhere, on my arms, on my stomach, I wasn't myself. And beyond the chemical reactions that were happening in my body, I just wasn't happy.
Fortunately, Jason realized being true to himself is the only thing that can truly make someone happy:
[W]e gotta be ourselves, you can't let someone else tell you who you need to be. Whether it's too big or too little or with tights or with lip gloss, you do what you need to.