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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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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Trump’s Trans Military Ban

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The LGBTQ community has made significant progress in terms of equality. A person was not allowed to be openly gay in the US military until former president Obama repealed the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in September of 2011. Gay men and women are now allowed to be out, proud, and active members of the military. Unfortunately, this is not the case for transgender individuals. On Wednesday, July 26, 2017, president Donald Trump tweeted that transgender people are not allowed to serve in the armed forces “in any capacity.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images via goo.gl/mSw8hr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How alarming! This is a clear violation of human rights and extremely detrimental to the fight for equality for the LGBTQ community. (We also have to appreciate the irony of the tweets considering that on July 26, 1948, former president Truman desegregated the military).

What Trump is basically saying is that allowing transgender people in the military would be a financial detriment. I’m assuming that he is referring to the cost of hormones for transgender people. What he doesn’t realize that the cost of hormones is significantly less than what the military is paying for medications such as Viagra. According to the United Press International, the US military spends ten times more on erectile dysfunction medication than transgender care. 

So, what does this mean? Well, it may mean any number of things:

  1. Trump has no idea what he’s talking about
  2. He’s pandering to the conservative right
  3. He’s transphobic

Who really knows? Whatever the reason, it is definitely a step back for equality. However, hope is not lost as many people are taking a stand against Trump’s ban. Celebrities such as Lady Gaga had some things to say about this ban.

 

 

 

Images via goo.gl/JmdNo2

 

Lady Gaga is not the only person fighting against Trump’s un-American ban. The Human Rights Campaign, or HRC, is fighting for the rights of transgender people, saying that the ban is an “all-out assault on service members” and that the ban would affect approximately 15,000 currently serving troops. This will clearly have a negative impact on the US military as it consists of millions of brave men and women who fight for the freedom of the American citizens and losing even one soldier due to bigotry can cause the military to weaken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The American Civil Liberties Union, or UCLA, is also fighting against Trump’s ban.

Image via goo.gl/RxN1n9

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t give up hope! This ban is definitely a step in the wrong direction and it hopefully won’t spiral into something even more horrible which is why it is very important that we speak out against this hateful action. Voice your outrage anywhere where your voice can be heard and stand with the transgender community during this trying time, use the hashtag #protecttranstroops on Twitter, repeat the maxim “trans people are not a burden,” and fight for what is right. It may not be easy but as long as we fight, the rights of transgender individuals can and will be protected.

 

 

 

 

 

Originally posted 2017-07-28 21:19:21.


Also published on Medium.

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48 Hours In...

48 Hours in Mexico City

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Mexico City is a sprawling metropolis full of color and culture. You could easily spend a month there and still not get to see and experience everything the city has to offer. If you only have a weekend, you can get a taste of Mexico City’s delights, but be warned – you will probably be booking your next trip as soon as you arrive home.

With more museums than any other city in the world, amazing architecture, a scintillating LGBTQ scene, delicious street food and many other attractions, Mexico City is one of the most exciting cities on the planet.

Getting There

Juarez International Airport is located eight miles from Mexico City. If you arrive late at night, it is advisable to take an official taxi to the downtown area. During the day, the metro is a good alternative.

Getting Around

Mexico City’s metro system is extensive and one of the cheapest underground systems in the world. Having said that, it isn’t the most comfortable of transport options during rush hour. Taxis are cheap, but make sure you take one from the official sitio taxi stands or use Uber.

Day One

Start the day with Huevos Rancheros, a classic Mexican breakfast – tortillas, fried eggs, salsa and refried beans. Try Café El Popular (5 de Mayo esq Palmas, just off the Zocalo). It’s a popular spot for both locals and tourists and has a diner-style ambiance.

After a hearty breakfast, head to the charming neighbourhood of Coyoacan. The number one attraction here is La Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo’s house, which has now been turned into a museum. It provides a fascinating insight into the life of artist Frida and her husband Diego Rivera. www.museofridakahlo.org.mx

The garden in La Casa Azul

Afterwards, you could head around the corner to the house where the exiled Leon Trotsky lived the last year of his life. It was there that he was murdered by an assassin in his study. In contrast to Frida’s colorful abode, it is an austere house which has been changed little since Trotsky lived there, but is an intriguing slice of political history.

Coyoacan Plaza is a great place to sample some tasty street food. At weekends, it is particularly lively with food and handicraft stalls. There is often live music, adding to the festive atmosphere. It feels like small town Mexico in the heart of the big city.

Back in Centro Historico, take a stroll around the huge main plaza, the Zocalo, the second largest public square in the world after Russia’s Red Square. There are plenty of museums, shops and cool street art to explore in the surrounding areas.

La Catrina, the iconic skeleton lady

El Balcon del Zocalo is a perfect place for dinner. The restaurant has a rooftop terrace, bestowed with spectacular views of the cathedral and Zocalo. It has an international, Mexican and veggie friendly menu. www.balcondelzocalo.com

For a taste of Mexican style nightlife, head to Calle Amberes at Paseo de la Reforma in Zona Rosa. This area is the hub of the LGBTQ scene in Mexico City. Have a wander and take your pick of the many bars and clubs that line the street.

Day Two

Pasteleria Ideal (Calle 16 de Septiembre 18, Col. Centro) could be the largest and most heavenly bakery you have ever seen. The choice of baked goods, both sweet and savory, are a feast for the eyes and as the name suggests, is an ideal place to grab some pastries. With breakfast and coffee in hand, make tracks to Alameda Park and find a bench to sit to enjoy your first meal of the day and partake in a spot of people-watching. You can’t miss the opulent architecture of Palacio de Belles Artes, the grandest building in Mexico City.

Just across the road (Calle Revillagigedo 11, Cuauhtemoc), check out the Popular Art Museum. Housed in an ex-fire station, this contemporary museum is full of colorful Mexican folk art. It’s fun and quirky and the exhibits range from Day of the Dead skulls and skeletons to vibrant piñatas. www.map.cdmx.gob.mx

Museum of Popular Art – fun and quirky

La Ciudadela is an artisan market (Calle de Balderas, s/m Centro, 06040 Cuauhtemoc). It specializes in Mexican handicrafts from 0axacan fantasy animals to beautifully decorated skulls. Prices are reasonable and you are bound to find something that catches your eye.

Even if you have never considered attending a wrestling match before, lucha libre is a unique Mexican experience and not-to-be-missed. (Arena Mexico,189 Calle Dr. Lavista, Colonia Doctores).  Regular sessions are held on Tuesday and Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons. The atmosphere is electric and whole families attend shouting abuse at the bad guys and cheering for their heroes.  

Round off your time in Mexico City with some tequila shots and mariachi music at a bar on Plaza Garibaldi. The haunting sound of roving mariachi bands echo around the square, as you reflect on two action-packed days in this amazing city.

Tequila shots at the ready!

 

Originally posted 2017-07-29 11:22:36.

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Love It, Leave It: The Portland, OR Edition

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Back to the Pacific NW, a not-so-secret favorite destination of mine. It very well could be that I’m just all jazzed up off of increased oxygen levels (man, they have a lot of trees), but I swear that everything tastes better out there. I constantly imagine tiny gnomes in tweed hats and hemp-based sweaters pulling out the freshest, organic vegetables from the depths of the soil. Albeit slightly far-fetched, this fictional scene will hopefully help you imagine just how epic the Portland food landscape is. But, there are two things (that just so coincidentally happen to be my favorite) we should focus on for now: brews and doughnuts.

Love It: Breakside Brewery. Blue Star Donuts.

(Photo credit: Erin Oliveri)

Breakside Brewery: With two locations in this quirky town, Breakside is a hipster mecca churning out solid craft brews and hearty, standout dishes. The newest spot in Slabtown (what a weird, yet endearing Portland name) is a boisterous, bi-level warehouse, that was jam packed on a Sunday afternoon. While most were throwing back some pints (most likely IPAs, since the list is bursting with them), plenty came just for the food. The brewery sources organic seasonal produce and meats; and while menus at breweries are often there solely to help combat hours of drinking, this one is a solid partner, justly accompanying the top-notch beers. The Bavarian pretzel is one of epic proportions — a woman from the table over asked if she could come over just for a photo. And, the fried chicken biscuit sandwich was gone so fast from my plate…but also from the menu since it’s only served from “3 p.m. ‘til gone.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Star Donuts: A hotly debated topic in Portland just so happens to be one near and dear to my heart (and stomach): doughnuts. I was told by locals on my first visit that these are the “grown up” doughnuts. I agreed once I took a spin around the BSD website — wooing me with phrases like “brioche recipe,” “cage-free eggs” and “the dough takes 18 hours to make.” Well, I wanted all of that, immediately. And what a coincidence, there’s one just a few minutes away from Breakside Brewery. I’d advise snagging a maple bacon or blueberry bourbon basil — or any beautifully baked ring ‘cause they’re so delicious — and sample en route to your future beer tasting. Carbs are your friends.

Leave It: Rogue Distillery and Public House

It’s not without a sad face emoji that this Rogue outpost turned out to be a big miss for me. Back east, I’ve drunk everything from the classic Dead Guy Ale to offbeat collabs with Blue Star rival, Voodoo Doughnuts. The core of Rogue was present, with plenty of beers on tap to sample, but the ambiance was non-existent and the menu was stacked with uninspired bar food. My original excitement for the poutine shortly faded after just a few bland bites. I’d say if you’re looking for the true Rogue experience and you just so happen to be headed toward the Oregon Coast, the original Public House (originally the Bayfront Brewery) and a newer, bi-level brewpub are nestled in the quaint coastal town of Newport. These locales may serve for a more authentically ‘Rogue’ experience.

Originally posted 2017-07-26 18:18:16.

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