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Bears, Cubs, Chasers, and Chubs: My Journey into the “Belly” of the Beast – Part One

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“How much do you weigh?”

“Ummmm. I don’t know. I think about 360 pounds now? I haven’t weighed myself in a long time.”

“Go do it. Send me a picture of the scale. I don’t like skinny men.”

This, or some variation of it, more often than not, was the introduction to most conversations during my four plus years on gay dating apps. Men would message me from all over the world, ask to see photos of various parts of my body – my arms, my thighs, my stomach, my you-name-it – and I would always respond with a “Hi! My name is Robby!” I wasn’t into the whole, “Show me everything about yourself right now on this totally anonymous app.”

Within the gay world, much like the lunchroom scene from Mean Girls, there exist many different worlds or “cultures” as we will call them for the sake of this series. There’s the twink culture: a group of young men from their late teens to early thirties, not too muscular, thin, and not a bit of hair on them. There are the daddies: the over 40s with chest hair, salt and pepper beards, and steady incomes. There are the muscle jocks, muscle bears (same as muscle jocks, just hairy all over), otters (thin men with hairy bodies), and so many more.

All of these terms are labeled in a way that doesn’t strike me as offensive. But my group? My label? The “chubbies.” I don’t know about every culture around the world, but in the English language, that word isn’t a friendly terminology. I was called “chubby” all through elementary and middle school. I was always a big kid. So, hearing the word now, it strikes me as difficult to understand how it could be seen in a positive light. Enter: Chasers.

My Life As A Fetish

When I started my gay life, I thought there were two types of gay: gay men, and lesbian women. Now, we have every letter of the alphabet covered from A to Z with a label within the community, and I’m not here to argue that’s a bad thing. I simply started my gay life as a gay man. I didn’t know anything different, shockingly, until about a year and a half ago when I learned the terms “Chubs” and “Chasers” and what they meant.

A “Chub” is a man who is overweight, and a “chaser” is the man who likes him. As a bigger man, it’s difficult to see myself as a fetish of some kind. To me, I’m a normal person. I’ve got the same issues like everyone else: I want to fit in, I am planning for my future, I’m developing my career. I have a past, a present, and a future. I’m a whole, complete person.

To some, but not all, chasers, I’m a piece of fat that is there to be viewed and on display for their enjoyment. This became way too apparent to me in the recent past when a GIF was made of me standing outside a pool with my stomach shaking.

If you had met me a year ago, when I was living in Miami, and we went to the beach together, I’d have kept my shirt on the entire time. For big people, it takes a lot of courage to take our shirts off in public. Children stare and point at us, people shake their heads or laugh, and most worry we’re going to break a piece of furniture. Still, throughout the last year and a half, with the love given to me by my partner, I’ve found the courage and body positivity to go shirtless at pools and the beach, even going to a nude beach in Spain and letting it all hang out, folds and all. I wasn’t ashamed.

That’s until I was sent a link to a GIF of me on Tumblr.

Now, the funny thing is, the image/video (it’s been removed now, and so has the Youtube video) was filmed by a chaser. Some have told me I should just be happy someone found me attractive enough to film me.

And there’s the problem with our society, the Chub/Chaser/Bear culture, and the gay culture in general. We’re told to feel “lucky” that someone finds us attractive, instead of lucky someone loves us for who we are. Sure, pipedreams in a culture obsessed with looks, but still. I want to be seen as more than a number on a scale.

My favorite conversations online happened when someone would send me a message asking for photos or immediately asking me to have sex with them. When I would turn them down, or suggest anything other than immediately jumping into bed with them, they’d tell me that I can’t afford to be so picky, and that I’m lucky they messaged me at all. Excuse me, sir, but you messaged me first. You found me attractive right up until the minute I didn’t find you attractive, and now I should be lucky? I think it’s the other way around…

The Events

This past year, I’ve attended events around the world where people are celebrated for being all shapes and sizes within the Chub/Chaser/Bear/Cub scene. They’re body positive, reaffirming, and just downright fun. Some people use the events to send their legs shooting up into the air, but most of us go to socialize, make new friends, and drink in a swimming pool. It’s at these events that I have made some of my closest friends, and learned a lot about myself.

I used to look down on these events. I thought they were just an excuse for people to get together and have wild sex parties, and I’m not about that life. Now, after experiencing them, I see them in a different light. I see people who come from small towns in the middle of nowhere and they don’t have a place to belong within their own zipcode coming to these events, greeted with hugs and a jello shot. I see people who normally wouldn’t feel comfortable taking their shirt off in a public place wearing speedos and loving who they are in that moment. That’s the part of the event that truly matters.

So… What Are You Trying to Say, Robby?

I feel that, generally, society has come a long way in accepting homosexuals and overweight people, but it seems we haven’t come too far in accepting the intersection of the two. The very fact that I often get told I should feel lucky someone is giving me attention proves that we aren’t there yet. You never see a condom ad with a guy over 185 pounds in it. To my knowledge, it wasn’t until Modern Family that I saw a Chub/Chaser gay couple on network television, and even then, it’s played that the overweight Cameron was at one point skinny and desireable. This, I believe, was corrected in later seasons where they dive further into his “clown” past and they show pictures of him at heavier stages. Still, even the actor, Eric Stonestreet, has been losing weight in the last few years. My point is, we haven’t yet given the intersection of gay and overweight the “all clear” from society yet, and it’s still frowned upon.

Over the next few weeks, I want to explore more of the Bear/Cub/Chaser/Chub relationship. I want to dive into different pairings and learn more about what makes them “tick” and I want to talk about the lack of “closed relationships” within the community. Personally, I say, “To each their own” when it comes to relationships, and what works for some doesn’t for others, but it seems much more prevalent that closed relationships don’t happen as often in these communities.

I want to explore the inner-feelings of chubs and chasers, how they think, how they view themselves, and learn more about what motivates them one way or the other. I want to explore gainers and encouragers, those that eat obsessively to gain weight at the encouragement of their partner, often to the detriment of their health.

Buckle in, folks. We’re diving into the belly of the beast.

Originally posted 2017-09-25 21:09:43.

Robert was born and raised in Nashville, TN, but had a thirst for seeing the world around him. He currently lives in New York City. His adventures have taken him to all corners of the world, but favorites include: attending the Rio Summer Olympics, island hopping in the Philippines, tasting every gelato flavor her could find in Rome, and surviving a Colombian death cab ride in Bogota. Robert is an out and proud gay man and hopes to inspire other members of the LGBTQ+ community to tell their stories, both of travel and personal. His debut book, I Know Where I’ve Been: A Year Long Journey of Self-Discovery, recounts his adventures traveling North and South America for a year while diving into his past growing up gay in the conservative South.

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The Life and Legacy of Edith Windsor

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As many of you may know, Edith Windsor, the pioneer for marriage equality in the United States tragically passed away on Tuesday, September 12th. Because many are upset about her passing (I know I am), it is important to look back and remember all that she had accomplished in her 88 years of life.

Edith Windsor, born Edith Schlain on June 20th, 1929 in Philadelphia to James and Celia Schlain, was a Russian Jewish immigrant and, because of the time in which she was born, her family suffered from the Great Depression. However, Windsor persevered and earned a master’s in mathematics from NYU and eventually joined IBM, where she worked for sixteen years. While in college, Edith met Saul Windsor. Their relationship ended once when Saul discovered that Edith had fallen in love with a female classmate. Edith, however, said that she did not wish to be a lesbian and proceeded to marry Saul. This marriage did not last very long as after a year of her tying the knot, Edith told him that she longed to be with women and they divorced. She then moved from Philadelphia to New York City.  

While in New York, Edith met Thea Spyer. Both in relationships of their own, they had to keep their relationship a secret. While Windsor was working for IBM, she received multiple phone calls from Thea Spyer. In order to conceal her sexual orientation, she told her colleagues that she was speaking to Thea’s brother, a fictitious person named Willy who, comically, was the name of Windsor’s childhood doll.  

“Like countless other same-sex couples, we engaged in a constant struggle to balance our love for one another and our desire to live openly and with dignity, on the one hand, with our fear of disapproval and discrimination from others on the other.”

In 1967, Spyer asked Windsor to marry her. Windsor was again afraid that her sexuality would be discovered, so Spyer proposed to her with a diamond brooch. Unfortunately, Spyer was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1977. Fearing that she would not be alive to see same-sex marriage legalized, they got legally married in Canada in 2007.

Tragically, Thea Spyer passed away in 2009, which left Edith with a large tax bill that heterosexual couples would not have after the death of a spouse because the legal definition of marriage in the US did not include same-sex couples. Sensing the inequality, Edith decided to sue the federal government. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples were entitled to the same benefits as heterosexual couples. This milestone of equality was one of the catalysts that led to the Obergefell vs. Hodges case in 2015 that deemed the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

In addition to her pivotal role in achieving marriage equality, Windsor also volunteered with the Gay and Lesbian and Defenders (GLAD), the East End Gay Organization, the LGBT Community Center, and more. Edith Windsor is considered a pioneer for marriage equality and she certainly deserves the title. Thanks to Windsor, same-sex couples across the US can now marry the person they love with the full benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy today. It is my hope that Windsor can inspire others to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community and help fight bigotry around the world. Edith Windsor is unfortunately gone but she will never be forgotten. She will continue to inspire the LGBTQ community to be proud and to fight for the rights they justly deserve.

Originally posted 2017-09-18 18:03:58.


Also published on Medium.

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LGBTQ Fashion Revolutionaries: Steal Their Looks, Steal Their IDGAF Attitudes

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Hearing that a member of the fashion world is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community comes as no surprise – after all, the point of fashion is to bend the rules, be anything but normal, and to accept the extraordinary. It is fashion’s job to shake things up, so it’s no wonder that queer people are the movers and shakers at the helm of this industry.

We’re showcasing the best of the best in queer fashion – those who have broken the mold, stepped outside their comfort zones, and dominated the mainstream.

Alexander McQueen

Known as the “beloved bad boy of fashion,” Alexander McQueen was openly gay, extremely extra, and didn’t care to follow the rules – in fact, one might say he lived to break them. Coming from London ’s East End Givenchy house and moving on to his own label, McQueen was essentially the Mick Jagger of fashion. Known for shaking up the conservative label, McQueen sparked outrage when he moved to the French couture house, following John Galliano as Chief Designer. Once he had his own label, McQueen continued to push boundaries – even liberal ones. His shows were often controversial, and he was famous for creating “bumster” trousers, which essentially displayed a model’s butt cleavage, for lack of a better term. The bumsters were supposed to be a parody of construction workers, an interesting attitude toward class structure. McQueen often drew inspiration from tragedies, obscene events, and people who you would not see at any of his fashion shows.

One of the most memorable traits of McQueen was his I-don’t-give-a-f*ck attitude. Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel said of the late McQueen, “he was always interesting, never banal” – high compliments from another gay fashion rebel whose cat has its own Wikipedia page.

Andrej Pejić

An Australian trans model who has referred to herself as “living between genders,” Andreja Pejić is known as the “first completely androgynous trans model.” Starting her career as a male model photographed for Paris Vogue in womenswear, an idea brought forth by yet another fashion phenom, Carine Roitfeld, Pejić is not only taking the modeling world by storm, she’s also venturing into film and walking in the Prabal Gurung show at New York Fashion Week this year.

Pejić has noted that gender dysphoria is not easy to live with, and is an outspoken role model for trans youth around the world.

Tim Gunn

Honestly, do we even need to elaborate on Tim Gunn? Okay, we will, because he’s worth it – the Project Runway mentor is really everyone’s mentor, isn’t he? He’s like the impeccably dressed, kind-hearted, gay dad you never had but always knew you wanted.

Gunn had his beginnings, as many of us now know, as a high school teacher. He taught a design course at Corcoran School of Art in Washington D.C. and from there, went on to eventually teaching at Parsons and becoming an associate dean. Even before Gunn became a teacher, he had to overcome a debilitating stutter and admits that there were quite a few points in his life where he didn’t feel like he could “make it work” – but he did regardless. Gunn is a true inspiration.

Cara Delevingne

Cara Delevingne is one of the hottest models – and now-actresses – in Hollywood now. A stint as Enchantress in Suicide Squad and as Margo in Paper Towns has turned her into a bona fide movie star. Her career is on fire, but don’t ask her about her sexuality, unless you want to get a clap back. The blunt star has said, in regards to her bisexuality: “My sexuality is not a phase…I am who I am. I think that being in love with my girlfriend is a big part of why I’m feeling so happy with who I am these days.” We’re happy for her, and can’t wait to see what she does next.

Alexander Wang

Alexander Wang is an openly gay designer with a following- the likes of Rihanna, Chloe Sevigny, Azealia Banks, Gisele Bundchen, Nicki Minaj, and Lady Gaga, to name but a few. While recently making headlines as being oblivious to fans and viewers at his New York Fashion Week 2017 show, Wang is nonetheless an incredible fashion force to be reckoned with. The former Creative Director of Balenciaga, Wang has since gone on to start his own line and collaborate with H&M.

While some of the aforementioned icons are just beginning their careers, some are right in the middle, and some have tragically had their lives cut short, none seem to be without controversy (except for maybe our angel baby Tim Gunn). Whether good or bad, these revolutionaries have changed the fashion industry; time will tell what their ultimate thumbprint on the runway will be.

Originally posted 2017-09-18 16:54:51.

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These Are the Gays of Our Lives: Life Advice from a Big Ol’ Mo: Coming Out, Fitting In, Quote of the Week

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Welcome to ‘These Are the Gays of Our Lives: Life Advice from a Big Ol’ Mo!’ where we’ll talk about life issues, answer some of your questions, and work through some of the challenges facing the gay community. So, feel free to ask anything you’d like using the form below. Let’s jump right in with the first two questions!

Dear Gays of Our Lives,

I’m unhappy. I’m unhappy with my relationship, I’m unhappy with my job, I’m unhappy with my family. I know it all stems from not being comfortable enough with myself and my sexuality to come out of the closet, but there are a lot of issues surrounding me coming out. My family would have problems with it, my colleagues would, and I don’t think I’m really ready to make that kind of leap for my boyfriend. He’s not pressuring me to come out or anything, but it certainly puts a strain on our relationship. What should I do?

Sincerely, 

It’s Dark in this Closet…

My Dear Dark In This Closet,

I understand your pains. I, too, felt that I could not come out to my friends and family. My dad was always so manly, my mom was always worried about what others would think, and I worked in a religious environment. But I found peace with deciding to tell my friends and family, but that’s something that can only be done on your own time. There’s no gay timeline that says you have to come out by a certain age, or for anyone. Coming out is a big decision, and you can’t be forced into it. Take your time. If your boyfriend loves you and isn’t pressuring you, then don’t worry about it. Sure, it’ll make things easier if you come out, but that’s on you to decide when the timing is right. Until then, hug your man extra tight and thank him for not pressuring you and for loving you just the way you are. 

Wishing you the very best, 

The Big Ol’ Mo

Dear Big Ol’ Mo,

I’m having trouble finding a place where I “fit in” and a group of friends with whom I feel comfortable. What should I do?

Best, 

New Here

Dear New Here,

I wish I could tell you that feeling goes away with age, but we all feel a little out of place, or like we don’t fit in from time to time, especially in the gay community. With all the different labels we put on ourselves, like Twink, Otter, Bear, Chaser, Chub, Kink, Boy, Sir, etc it can be difficult to figure out where you belong. My advice, try to find people of like-minded interests. Meetup.com is especially great for this. There are Meet-Ups for every gay sub-culture and every activity under the sun. Twink who likes to play volleyball? There’s one of those. Bear who likes to play video games? Yep. That, too. There’s something for everyone! 

Also, don’t be afraid to get out there and try new bars and clubs. Most of them have different themes and crowds, so experiment a little bit. Try talking to people, making friends, etc. Even if it’s just for the night, it’s better than sitting at home alone! 

I wish you the best of luck at finding your place. You’ve got this!

Sincerely, 

The Big Ol’ Mo

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

“I never felt I had anything to hide. I never felt being gay was anything to be ashamed of, so I never felt apologetic. I didn’t have issues with it, didn’t grow up with any religion, so I didn’t have any religious, you know, issues to deal with as far as homosexuality is concerned. So, I accepted it very easily. For me, it wasn’t that big a deal.” -Martina Navratilova

Do you have a question for the Big Ol’ Mo? Fill out the form below!

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Originally posted 2017-09-16 12:21:48.

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