Fat gay Asian men exist in a different world to their slim, pale, and muscular counterparts.
Mark Mariano

5 Aug 2019 - 9:32 AM  UPDATED 23 Nov 2021 - 4:09 PM

A pig emoji.

The notification dinged, and the pink caricature flashed for a moment before disappearing. His profile picture was a park bench, and his bio read ‘Discreet. Into Twinks. No Asians’. He had made sure I got his message before he blocked me.

‘Just ignore them, you’ll find someone!’ my gorgeously lean gay-sian friend Bruce would always say as my heart sank.

He would usually follow that with a ‘I know exactly how you feel!’ but this time he didn’t. I’d sit and watch him ignore hundreds of messages on gay dating apps with offerings of faceless buff torsos, while I deleted the fifth ‘Are you Kim Jong Un?’ message of that month.

Fat gay Asian men exist in a different world to their slim, pale, and muscular counterparts. I’ve been out to clubs, I’ve tried Tinder and its many lookalikes, but they never worked. Was it me? Was it my ridiculous Hollywood expectations? Was Kasey Chambers right? Am I Not Pretty Enough? 

It’s no different to how big, brown, or queer people are treated in general, but it’s swept under a rug aptly called ‘gay bear culture’. It was a hard pill to swallow realising that in order to be liked, I needed to be fetishised. What did my personality matter when I had to be smooth and submissive and exotically oriental? 

The queer boys I saw in the movies were thin teenagers finding love in Tuscan country-sides. They were pretty suburban white boys having their first kisses on ferris wheels.

There was no one that looked like me - a chubby brown Filipino boy from Mt Druitt. 

I completed this erasure by erasing myself. I spent my teens constantly numb and light-headed skipping meals to try to fit into the impossible body beautiful ideals celebrated in queer culture.   

I watched my straight friends couple up throughout high-school. I would be a shoulder to cry on for my female friends and occasionally the name they’d tell their parents when they were secretly out on dates. 

It reminded me of all those Anne Hathaway-esque rom coms from the mid-2000s. The ones where the cute small-town journalist with big city dreams finds that her significant other (her goofy yet wise best friend) was by her side all along. That was obviously never going to be my life, but a gay’s gotta try. 

I would never know what it felt like to be on the other side - to be loved and partnered. I would have killed to feel a fraction of how they felt. 

I would get excited when my high school crushes would talk to me - even if it was just asking whether my female friend was single or not. 

I never got the whole ‘nobody can love you until you love yourself’ thing. This was weird to me because I’ve always loved myself plenty - it just feels like the world doesn’t.

I never got the whole ‘nobody can love you until you love yourself’ thing. This was weird to me because I’ve always loved myself plenty - it just feels like the world doesn’t.  

I’ve always towered over my friends and teachers. I say I don’t like rides because I’m afraid of heights, but I’m really just scared I’ll break something. Someone from church once told me I looked like Humpty Dumpty - large and round up top, but with skinny legs. I laughed with him, because it wasn’t untrue and I didn’t see the shade. 

My slender legs were passed down to me from my Mum, and I love them still, but it got me thinking. What other comparisons were being made about me? The teasing never fazed me but I think I internalised more than I thought.

I don’t fit the mould and no amount of inspiring Lizzo songs can fix that. Is it my responsibility to change? Should I fight the status quo? Or does inclusion and diversity only matter in this world when it can make somebody money? 

The gay zeitgeist has been thin and white for such a long time that the thought of challenging it weighs me down more than the two family sized pizzas I just demolished. 

Beige male torsos occupy queers spaces both online and offline. Pale faces lead our movements. Slim celebrity allies are put on pedestals. So where do I fit?

I can’t be what I can’t see, and I really hope I’m not the only one who feels this way. Body acceptance has acquired currency in feminist circles, but the gay community still has a long way to go in embracing plus size and poc bodies as desirable.

I want this to be a conversation starter. I want this to shatter the illusion that the queer community is one big connected group as opposed to a diverse collective. There’s this cultural imbalance where some voices are louder than others - so let’s tip the scale.

You can follow Mark on Instagram here.


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