If white gay men want to be anti-racist, they need to dismantle diet culture.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

The events of the summer of 2020, namely the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the rise in hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, made many white Americans newly aware of the history and legacy of systemic racism in the United States. The term “systemic racism” refers to the ways racist beliefs and policies combine to form an overarching social structure that produces and normalizes inequality on the basis of race.

White gay men, like many others, took to social media to profess their support of Black Lives Matter and their commitment to anti-racism…

Pride should be “come as you are” — not only if you meet certain standards of acceptability.

Photo credit: Karl Bewick on Unsplash.

Each year, in the lead up to June, social media is flooded with gay men’s discussions of what they are doing to slim down and shape up for Pride. Gay men dieting for Pride is not unique; however, the push seems especially prevalent this year due to the cultural pressure to lose one’s so-called “pandemic weight.”

Diet culture — a set of beliefs that elevates certain body types over others, equates thinness with health and worth, and, as a result, actively oppresses those who fall outside the ideal — is an integral part of mainstream gay male culture. This can…

Talk Queerly: an occasional column on LGBTQ culture & politics

Photo Credit: Flickr (Creative Commons).

I’m issuing a challenge to gay men in 2020: stop posting pictures of your body online.

The exception is if you are actively working to disrupt the dominant narrative, because we need more representation of queer men of color, trans men, gay men who live in larger bodies, gay men with disabilities, and anyone who doesn’t align with the gay community’s current standards of appearance. Gay and queer men who don’t align with the norm are sorely in need of further representation, appreciation, celebration, and respect. If your social media presence is built upon challenging body norms, dismantling diet culture and white supremacy, or shaking shit up, then by all means, keep doing what you’re doing…

Talk Queerly: an occasional column on LGBTQ culture & politics

Photo Credit: L. Whittaker via Flickr (Creative Commons).

On December 19th of 2019, beloved author J.K. Rowling came under fire when she tweeted her support for Maya Forstater. Forstater, a tax expert, was fired from global think tank Center for Global Development (CGD) after issuing tweets critical of the U.K. government’s proposed plan to allow individuals to self-identify their gender.

Forstater further lost an employment tribunal (the court sided with CGD) based on her belief that sex is an immutable biological fact and, as such, people cannot “change” gender. …

Talk Queerly: an occasional column on LGBTQ culture & politics

Photo Credit: Lorie Shaull via Flickr (Creative Commons).

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, launched his presidential campaign on January 23rd of 2019. Buttigieg is the first openly gay candidate to run for the Democratic presidential nomination (Fred Karger ran for the Republican nomination in 2012). “Mayor Pete,” as his constituents — and now the American public — call him, publicly came out at the age of 33 during his mayoral re-election campaign via an essay published on June 16th of 2015 in his local newspaper, the South Bend Tribune. I find Buttigieg’s representation of his sexuality in the essay troubling. He says:

“I was well into…

Talk Queerly: a bi-weekly column on LGBTQ culture & politics

Photo Credit: Steven Caddy via Flickr (Creative Commons).

Exercise is not an activity that brings me much joy or peace of mind. My relationship to physical activity is complicated at best. Growing up, my body was perpetually a problem. The message I received from my family was that I was too big and needed to lose weight in order to avoid being teased and to fit in. I can’t remember a time when I could just “be,” where I was not worried about my appearance or my weight. After I lost some weight during my teenage years, my family mostly left me alone.

Gay organizing in Buffalo, New York shows Stonewall was not the sole genesis of gay liberation.

Don Licht (left) and Donn Holley at the MSNF “Meeting of the Mayors Protest” (1972). Photo courtesy of the Dr. Madeline Davis LGBTQ Archive of Western New York, Archives & Special Collections Department, E. H. Butler Library, SUNY Buffalo State.

In December of 1969, Buffalo gays and lesbians gathered in the cramped and dimly-lit back room of a gay juice and coffee bar called The Avenue, located in a dilapidated building at 70 Delaware Avenue, to begin organizing for their liberation. The meeting was called by James “Jim” Garrow, a bar owner and popular fixture of the gay community, whose bar the Tiki, known for its garish Polynesian-themes decor, had been raided and closed by the State Liquor Authority (SLA). Opened in 1968 and closed by the end of 1969, the Tiki existed during a decade when Buffalo gay bars…

Talk Queerly: a bi-weekly column on LGBTQ culture & politics

Photo Credit: Jamie Bernstein via Flickr (Creative Commons).

“I’m doing Keto for Pride,” an acquaintance recently told me. “If my body looks better,” he explained, “I can make enough tips bartending to cover several months of rent.” Gay men dieting for Pride is not unique. I share this anecdote not to criticize someone for dieting — people can do what they want with their bodies — but to give one example of a widespread practice. Furthermore, it shows that some bodies are literally, monetarily, worth more in gay culture based on their level of desirability.

Talk Queerly: a bi-weekly column on LGBTQ culture & politics

Photo Credit: Faith Winship (used with permission).

The Stonewall Inn Riots of 1969, alternatively referred to as a rebellion or uprising, are often described as the beginning of the modern Gay (now LGBTQ) Rights Movement and the most significant event in LGBTQ history. Stonewall is not solely an historical event, but has taken on a mythological status within LGBTQ history. Stonewall, however, was not the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement as a whole, nor was it the sole genesis of the liberationist phase of the movement that emerged in the early 1970s. The uprising is but one example of the shift in the tone and tempo…

Talk Queerly: a bi-weekly column on LGBTQ culture & politics

Photo Credit: John Tae-IL via Flickr (Creative Commons).

Veteran AIDS activist Peter Staley has recently been in the news for his role as the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed on May 14th of 2019. The suit, Peter Staley, et al. v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., et al., filed in a San Francisco federal court, alleges that four large pharmaceutical companies — Gilead Sciences, Inc.; Bristol Meyer Squibb; Johnson & Johnson; and Japan Tobacco — have rigged the composition of HIV combination drugs to contain drugs under patent. This practice results in the artificial inflation of the cost of these medications, as drugs under patent cost more than generic…

Jeffry J. Iovannone

Historian, writer, and educator with a PhD in American Studies. I specialize in gender and LGBTQ history of the U.S. Email: jeffry.iovannone@gmail.com

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