I knew at a very young age that I was fat. Around three or four I started packing on extra pounds. I knew that I was different than my cousins and friends; I could tell that I was bigger. They also had a knack for making that perfectly clear. Kids are brutally honest and outspoken. I also knew at a young age that I was gay (more details on that some other time). It must have been around four when I realized I was attracted to other boys, but I didn’t have a clue what that meant or that there was a name to go with my feelings. But then for many years my attraction to the same sex was not present and I even had crushes on girls (gross, I know).
The thing is, growing up fat I always wanted to be thin. I was constantly envious of the other boys at school and my friends, the ones who could eat whatever they wanted and never had to worry about losing their naturally athletic bodies. Growing up in Southern California there was never a lack of hot skaters or surfers, with their lean muscular bodies on display, to fawn over. As I got older the pressure to be thin was even greater. There was nothing that I wanted more than to have that body. Every summer was the time I would start a new diet and/or exercise plan in hopes of coming back to school in the fall a newer hotter version of myself. Every summer I failed. In fact I not only failed, I managed to pack on more weight each year (self sabotage, check out earlier posts here, here, & here).
Junior high, more specifically the summer after eighth grade, is when I last remember having a crush on a girl. She was the new girl in the neighborhood and she was very attractive (tall, thin, blonde and tan). We always ran into each other at the pool, which was super embarrassing because I was fat and insecure, and she was always nice and sociable. Once freshman year started she was quickly integrated into the popular clique and any interaction, if I could ever muster up the courage, was not going to happen. By sophomore year I was starting to realize that I was spending a lot of time looking at guys. I started to explore the internet at home and during school hours managed to become infatuated with a few of my classmates. One was a guy named Nick. He was tall, lean, muscular(ish), a skater, and a baseball player. He had a shaved head and dark features. He was my 2nd period crush. There was another, Mike, who was in my Lit class. And another, Matt, in my Chem class. And Galen in Spanish. In nearly every class there was a guy who provided a nice diversion from the monotony of high school. What was hard for me to figure out was whether I was besotted with them because I was envious, or because I was attracted.
Toward the end of high school I had finally realized that I was queer. From that point onward any attraction to a guy was not just “he’s hot, he’s smart . . .” but also “I wish I had that body.” The two were intrinsically intertwined.
Which brings me to my question (one I have thought about a lot over the past couple years): does growing up fat increase the likelihood of being gay?
I know that for me being queer was a part of who I was from a young age. I “knew” from the time I was a toddler. This leads me to think that there is some validity to the argument for a genetic component. But at the same time I wonder if all the time (and we are talking years here) spent gawking at and desiring the bodies of other boys has also played its part. Did it increase my odds? Is it a contributing factor? Is it similar to smoking increasing one’s chance of getting lung cancer? It has become hard to separate the desire to obtain and the desire to have. Did it slowly evolve into an attraction or was I always attracted and just unaware, or willing to admit it? Not that I regret being gay, I do not, but I do wonder if there is any link.