Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Obese Women, Gay Men: What's the Connection?

The other day I was in Starbucks, my office. Three individuals came in for their Frappucinos, two young women and one young man. Both young women were overweight; one just skirted the edges of obesity. I can eyeball this to a hair's breath because of my past weight issues. Usually, women are heavier than people assume they are because all of us, with the exception of those who are battling Eating Disorders, always dress to look thinner. In NYC most women wear black, year-round; I don't think it is always because black doesn't show the dirt, either. It is the most slimming of colors. C'est v'rai?

Both young women were wearing black. The young man was neat in jeans and a colorful shirt. His mannerisms were flighty and his voice was not moderated with husky deepness. He was good looking, in fact too good looking for his companions, given the typical ratios of female looks to male looks that our culture dictates. (Unlike avian mating rituals where the female is the dowdy, unattractive one and the male is absolutely gorgeous, human mating rituals are the opposite. These three were following the avians in the looks department. Reep, Reep, Reep. Warning signal; interesting human social activity.)

I do not stereotype easily and I give the benefit of the doubt, but my gaydar is acute. The young man was gay, and who cares? What was interesting were the dynamics of the relationships between the three. The two heavy young women and the gay man were comfortable with each other. Perhaps they shared similar interests or values. But it reminded me of myself at that age. Gay men make excellent friends, as women know because they share similar interests in fashion, decorating, the arts, etc.  Not all gay men, of course. But there is a special relationship between heavy women and gay men. I'm not sure what it is based on. Fear, perhaps?  The fear of intimacy with a member of the opposite sex? Being overweight narrows the range of interested males in this Culture of Thin, especially for overweight/obese young women. Fat is a barrier; and that may be the way the young woman wants it. A gay man is sensitive to this and doesn't feel threatened that an overweight women will want more from him physically. Both find safety in each other and comfort in a friendship with a member of the opposite sex. No demands are being made.

Perhaps I knew this subliminally, but the truth was revealed to me one day when a gentleman was discussing another woman's proclivity for hanging with gay men. He said, "She just doesn't want to be bothered. She's the marrying type. So for now, she has some gay male friends and is staying away from intimacy apart from marriage. When she's ready for intimacy and marriage, she'll slim down and dump these guys."

Some part of what he said certainly rings true. And as I looked at the three leaving Starbucks engaged in each other's companionship, I marveled at the resourcefulness of our species to make arrangements to comfort ourselves when we are afraid because we don't have the solutions just yet. But once the rough patches are traveled through understanding appears. But by then, we've moved on and the information is like a sweet liquor after a luscious meal.  Ancillary to our prosperity and well being, but delicious to savor while reflecting upon things past.

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