Right after I first came out, I went with some friends to Fire Island, the homo party-Mecca of Long Island. At the time I weighed 185 pounds, a standard weight for my five-foot-eleven frame. Several hours into the evening, my good friend's date pulled me aside and declared he had the hots for me. Stammering with disbelief, I reminded him that he was on a date with my friend, not me. He ignored this statement, put his hand on mine and leaned in declaring these words that I've carried with me ever since; "You have such a pretty face, if only you'd lose some weight." It was my official introduction to the world of gay body images and the enormous pressure to look perfect.
While on the one hand this man was complimenting me, it was a back-handed statement that outlined the twink-versus-bear mentality that is used in the gay community to label and categorize appearances, and hence people, with dismissive ease. I politely rejected his advances, but his words resonated in my head for the rest of the night. When I woke up the next day, I immediately began limiting my food intake to orange juice and pretzels, believing that I clearly would need to lose some weight if I ever wanted a serious gay relationship.
Several weeks later, I was out at a club when a sexy man followed me to the bathroom and started chatting me up. We went home together and began what was a tumultuous two-year affair. About a week in, my new boyfriend, who was incredibly athletic, suggested we join a gym together. Remembering my Fire Island admirer's statement, I quickly agreed. The next eighteen months I proceeded to diligently visit the gym six days a week, whittling myself down to a lithe 158 pounds. Friends and family became concerned as I was slowly wasting away, but the attention I received from my man and the boys in the bars more than made up for their worries and validated the importance of being skinny.
Reveling in the shape of my new body, I went out dancing one night with my boyfriend, where I saw a heavy-set guy tearing it up on the floor. I was so surprised by his carefree attitude that I smiled and clapped along while he boogied away. After all, I couldn't look in the mirror without seeing a few more pounds to lose or an inch to tone, while this guy was confident in letting it all jiggle and hang out. As I stood there joyfully clapping away, a cute and fit dude dancing nearby turned to me and chuckled, "If you just want sex, fatties are the best aren't they? You can treat 'em like shit and they don't care." Disgusted, I left the floor.
A few weeks later, I learned that my boyfriend had been cheating on me for months. Rather than leaving him immediately, I somehow convinced myself that he never would have gone astray if I was in even better shape. Thus, I worked harder at the gym than before. However, as our relationship continued to deteriorate, I became exhausted keeping up with the gay-Joneses at the gym. It was too much work, and I resented denying myself the things I enjoyed in an effort to stay some horny man's wandering eye. Thus, I started quietly sneaking junk food in private when no one was looking. It was ridiculous because I'd sup on grilled chicken and salad while we were together, but I'd hide a stash of chips or cookies that I'd inhale the second my boyfriend left the apartment. Needless to say the relationship eventually collapsed. I moved out, ate myself into gleeful oblivion, and slowly ballooned to over 225 pounds in a period of a few years.
After a while, I began seeing another guy, but when this new relationship appeared to be stuck in neutral, I asked my new love where we were headed. He then leveled me with hauntingly familiar words, stating "You have no idea how beautiful you could be if you just lost some weight, but I don't see this going further until you do." Devastated, I bought a treadmill online that very night.
One evening while toiling away on the equipment, I picked up my cell phone to answer a call from this current boyfriend where he proceeded to tell me, through my panting and gasps, that he was leaving the country the next day on business and wouldn't be back for a few weeks. He suggested that when he returned we should pursue a more casual relationship by just hooking up for sex on occasion with no strings attached. I replied by stepping off the treadmill and politely telling him to kiss my fat ass.
After that, when I went online to meet people, and I was particularly cognizant of guys writing "no chubs" in their posts or letting me know up front that being overweight was a definite non-negotiable. I also began to explore parties that catered to bears or chubbies and their chasers. However, I couldn't help but be annoyed by the idea that I had to be regulated to a label or group. That's not to say there isn't great empowerment in these groups, but I just personally didn't feel like I needed to officially belong to any particular clique or cater to fetish-like admirers in order to find a partner. Thus, I kept it moving and stopped putting energy into worrying about what anyone saw me as on the outside, as eventually all beauty fades.
At last, I knew I had stumbled on the man of my dreams when out on a first date he asked me if I wanted to order dessert. When I said I couldn't decide between two items, he ordered both of them for us to share! Many years and ice cream sundaes later, I am fully confident that letting go of the insane expectations of weight and shape have led me to a more fulfilled life. By first focusing on the value of my own inner worth, I was able to secure a relationship that was not based on my girth, which has fluctuated greatly through the years. My fabulousness, however, has not!
Neil Patrick Harris says he and new husband David Burtka were "not trying to elicit any kind of reaction from anyone" when they decided to tie the knot in Italy earlier this month.
The Tony and Emmy Award-winning actor spoke at length about his destination wedding in an interview on "The View" last week, saying the nuptials were "less about a proclamation and more about a declaration that I was able to share in front of our kids, and that he could do back for me."
"We've been together over 10 years and I think when our kids got to the age they were having reasonable conversations, when they are asking lots of 'why' questions, then it seemed [important] to be able to have a real clear-cut explanation of who their daddy is, I think is great — that he’s my husband, it was easier than 'partner' or 'boyfriend' or something like that."
The intimate ceremony, which took place at a rented Italian castle, was an emotional moment for Harris and Burtka, and included their two children, Gideon Scott and Harper Grace.
"It was so crazy, because when you watch other people say their vows and get all chocked up, you say 'Come on! Pull it together, man,'" he added. "Then when you are standing there and it's you and you have this piece of paper in your hand and it's shaking...you can't help but just get super-duper chocked up."
Watch a video clip of the segment here.
In an apparent bid to show its commitment to supporting marriage equality, Target has unveiled a new ad featuring two gay dads.
The commercial for Target’s “Made to Matter” product line was posted to YouTube Sept. 13 and at one point shows a gay couple painting with a child. The spot's release comes on the heels of several anti-gay groups' boycott of the chain after the company signed an amicus brief in support of marriage equality last month.
A Target spokeswoman told The Huffington Post the new ad campaign "represents and celebrates" the company's diverse community.
"Target is committed to diversity and inclusion in every aspect of our business, including our marketing efforts," the rep said. "The casting of this couple and their son is in line with previous marketing that Target has created including our wedding registry ad campaigns that have been running for the past several years."
Responses to the video have been overwhelming positive on YouTube so far.
In August, Matt Barber, vice president of anti-same-sex marriage group Liberty Counsel Action, said Target's decision to sign the amicus brief -- which federally challenged Wisconsin and Indiana's same-sex marriage bans -- was a “slap in the face to millions of pro-family customers," OneNewsNow wrote.
The National Organization for Marriage similarly joined in on the haterade.
In a blog post published Aug. 5, Jodee Kozlak, Target's executive vice president of human resources, spoke out about the company's stance on the issue.
“It is our belief that everyone should be treated equally under the law, and that includes rights we believe individuals should have related to marriage,” she said. "We believe that everyone – all of our team members and our guests – deserve to be treated equally. And at Target we are proud to support the LGBT community."
Fashion is subjective, even for kids. In preschool, elementary, and middle school there were the occasional theme days: pajama day, crazy hair day, and of course Halloween; my son often balked at these, not inclined to go along with the crowd. Last school year, his first at a large public high school, he participated in "Spirit Day," dressing up as prescribed by a group of seniors to demonstrate school spirit. (Although it seemed more like hazing to me.)
To be fair, my son has paid attention to fashion for a while. A Superman tee was his preschool choice, and as a first-grader he saw an older boy with long hair and said, "I want that." So from first through eighth grade he grew his hair out to a very long length. Known as "the boy with long hair," and often mistaken for a girl, he added to the persona by dedicating a year of his life to wearing only tie-dye. Notoriety followed these fashion choices, and many kids in the school followed suit, growing their hair and mimicking his style. My son played it cool, never seeming to be too headstrong even as he set trends; he remains down-to-earth to this day.
The hair came off just before high school, and his fashion changed from hippie to hipster, with ironic T-shirts, five-panel hats, and loud Vans skater shoes. He was still a leader in the fashion arena as his jeans got skinny and shirts bright and flowery. All of this remains consistent with the gender fluid identity of my son and his friends. "Queer" is de rigueur, and it makes sense to dress the part.
So as the new school year approached, our son began gearing up. His store of choice is Buffalo Exchange, where flowered shirts, short shorts, and ironic tees abound at reduced prices. We buy all but the most garish garb for him, feeling compelled to clothe our son as we strive to accept and support who he is. A couple of purchases he made from his own funds were dresses. We assumed these were intended as costumes for his avant-garde theater group.
But last evening, after describing his first day of school sophomore year, he casually announced that on day two he'd be wearing a dress to school. His mom and I didn't miss a beat, merely curious why he waited for the second day. "Doing it on the first day would've been such a cliché!" was our son's response.
And so this morning after a shower, and applying the subtle eye makeup that's been a daily routine since he appeared in his first stage production last spring, our boy donned a dress and packed up his book bag before classes.
The blue cotton sundress he chose would be fitting for any teenage girl. Heck, it might actually be something his mom would wear. And he looked pretty darn good in it. I like how it ties behind the neck, and I wondered how he got it on without asking for help. The unfilled bulge at the breast is a bit distracting at first, but overall he looks like a fit young man making a bold fashion choice.
These are the types of choices he's making, and as a parent I am strongly compelled to leave well enough alone and let my son navigate his own course. That this path leads through the halls of a big urban school is something he must've calculated. That he'll be in the company of familiar friends, and under the eye of new teachers and administrators, may have figured into his calculations.
And when I check my own feelings, I need only recall myself as a high schooler, seeking attention and acceptance. My persona was as a merry prankster (in the Ken Kesey tradition), a yippie letting my freak flag fly with bright clothing and bold public actions. Later, my academic career centered on gender identity development, and it seems only fitting that my son is exploring similar territory, and taking it to new places.
"Nice dress" was how I greeted my son this morning. "Thanks," was his reply. "I'll see you after cross country practice, at the back-to-school picnic," I continued. "Cool," he said.
And cool he is, with the whole idea of a not-yet-16-year-old boy going to school in a dress. I'm cool with it, too.
A transgender girl was crowned homecoming princess at a Colorado Springs high school.
The Gazette of Colorado Springs reported Saturday () that Scarlett Lenh received the majority of the votes from her junior class at Sand Creek High School, besting three biological girls for the honor. Lenh, biologically a boy, was born Andy Lenh. She was bestowed the honor during Friday night's football game.
The 16-year-old began identifying as a transgender girl this school year and began using the girls' bathroom. She said she's known she was a girl since about age 7 or 8.
"It was really exciting. It felt really good. I couldn't stop smiling," Scarlett said after she found out at an afternoon assembly that the majority of the junior class had voted for her.
Two of the other girls who were nominated by their peers were "extremely supportive," Scarlett said, and the other "was really upset."
Scarlett said she didn't think she'd be nominated.
"One of my friends mentioned it, and I didn't think anything of it because I didn't think I'd be nominated. But, now, it really matters to me," she said. "This is something I've wanted to do since my freshman year. I want people to be themselves and not feel uncomfortable in their own body and mind."
The school in Falcon School District 49 is in the same city as Focus on the Family and the National Association of Evangelicals.
"The leaders at Sand Creek High School and in District 49 respect the decision of the Scorpion student body in electing their homecoming court," district spokesman Matt Meister said in a statement. "Our board policy sets the standard that we do not exclude any person from participating in any program or activity on the basis of gender identity and gender expression."
"It's craziness," said Jana Neathery, whose granddaughter attends Sand Creek. "Originally, it was a joke that he was going to be nominated for homecoming princess, but he got a lot of nominations," she said, referring to Scarlett, "and now there are a lot of upset girls because a spot was taken from them.
"I'm very sympathetic that he's transgender, but he should be on the boys' side, not the girls'."
Sand Creek student Michael Carl said he has been a friend of Scarlett's since the seventh grade.
"He has always been there for me and is truly a good person," Michael said. "I support him because it takes a lot of courage and a lot of character to do what he is doing."
Last year, a transgender first-grade girl won the right to use the girls' restroom at another Colorado Springs-area school district. The Colorado Civil rights Division ruled that not allowing Coy Mathis to use the girls' bathroom violated Colorado's Anti-Discrimination Act.
Religious congregations are warming up to LGBT issues more and more, according to the results of a recent study out of Duke University.
Conducted by Duke sociology professor Mark Chaves, the National Congregations Study investigated the shift in acceptance of gay and lesbian congregants from 2006 to 2012 -- which rose from 37.4 percent to 48 percent in that time frame.
Researchers asked religious leaders from 1,331 different American churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and other houses of worship, whether openly gay or lesbian couples would be allowed to become full-fledged members of their congregations. The shift toward greater inclusivity reflects the changing landscape of American political and social life -- which on the whole is more accepting of LGBT issues than ever before.
The positive trend for LGBT people were not universal in the study, with Catholic churches exhibiting somewhat less acceptance of gay and lesbian members in 2012 than in 2006. When asked, Chaves told HuffPost he believed the decrease may be correlated to an "increased salience" of homosexuality in the Catholic Church as evidenced by the recent firings of gay teachers in parochial schools and Catholic organizations.
While the Catholic Church's stance on homosexuality remains seated in the somewhat vague but hopeful words of Pope Francis, "Who am I to judge?", other church bodies have taken more definitive action to promote LGBT equality. In June the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted in a landmark decision to allow same-sex marriages, following in the footsteps of the U.S. Episcopal Church which made the same decision two years prior.
“The increasing acceptance of gays and lesbians is a well-known trend in America,” Chaves said in a Duke press release. “Churches are no exception.”