The standard of beauty for gay men today is ruthlessly degrading. It’s toxic and debilitates self-esteem. We’re so inundated with set expectations of what to look like and who to emulate, that we’ve forgotten to love ourselves amidst the bullshit.
I’m especially enervated by the fact that the image of a desirable gay man is predominated by white models, porn actors, and celebrities with perfectly chiseled bodies. As an Asian-American, it’s uncomfortable realizing my severe underrepresentation in mainstream American media.
Upon watching a trailer for an upcoming indie film on the gay relationship dynamics between an Asian and White man, I initially thought, “FINALLY a movie addressing that not all Asians are submissive!” As I continued watching, however, it became progressively more distasteful, as it painted an idealized image of an Asian “dominant” gay man. I didn’t like it.
It reminded me that gay-themed movies often neglect to address the privileges of certain gay characters, and the fact that the person of color ends up with the white guy as if that’s the glorified sought-out goal at the end of every successful gay man’s love life. Give me a break.
I also didn’t like that the Asian guy just had to be toned. It asserts that people who assume a more “dominant” role in the relationship have to be physically fit, have six pack and wear perfectly fitting designer underwear. Though I’m not an advocate for defining “roles” in any relationship, trying to curate the look of the ideal “Asian dominant man” in such a romanticized way is degrading. Not everyone should expect to look like an Adonis.
Another frustrating thing is when people automatically assume that I take the submissive role in a relationship simply because of my body type, ethnicity and fashion sense. “Oh, you’re the skinnier one, you MUST be the bottom!” Because that makes perfect sense, right? It’s seriously like the majority of the gay men I’ve dated and talked to have lost all sense of respect, and it’s not cute. But I digress.
Body image is a prevalent source of insecurity for many young gay men today. We need to embrace and love our body and to discontinue buying into the mold of the ideal gay man portrayed in mainstream media. You don’t have to starve yourself or become an obsessive gym rat to feel accepted and desirable. Be comfortable in your own skin. There is no look.
It’s time to encourage more sex-positivity for all types of people regardless of race, orientation, and body type. We need to erase from our minds that there’s only one existing form of beauty.