But when I came into the queer scene on my own, years later, things seemed pretty different. Sure there were fat lesbians at the bar (me, say?) But fat hating rhetoric was everywhere. And I felt just as ugly,just as undesirable, just as invisible there as I did in the straight world. Then later on, when I came into my queer identity as a femme, I felt fat-phobia even more acutely. Butches, it seemed to me, were (are) more acceptable and more desirable as fat people than femmes were (are). I'm not alone in this observation. Zoe Whittall and Suzy Malik write about the very same thing in "Fat is a Femme-inine Issue," where they write: "[b]eing a fat femme at a dyke bar sometimes makes me feel like a straight girl at a perpetually bad prom" (142). Um, yeah. What they said. Of course fat phobia affects everyone. Straights, gays, bio and non-bio gender identities, butches, femmes. But there is a very gendered nature to fat-phobia which seems to throw itself very differently at people on different ends of the masculine/feminine spectrum. Whitall and Malik feel the same way, sharing:
The tall skinny butches get to be 'boys.' They look 15, they act 15, sometimes they fuck 15. The big butches get to be 'daddies' the steady sturdy sexy symbols of masculine power. Go through your high-femme social rolodex. Who are they? Probably tall, skinny, with some tatoos and a snap to her strut. She's sex on wheels. She's power. She's who I want to be when I throw up my dinner (142).Ouch. And yes. And ouch. (and, um, yes.) Now, I guess I need to be clear here that I don't have a lot of experience in the gay boy community (back them or now really) and as such, I can't speak to any differences which may have occurred around fat positivity. I am quite certain from speaking to friends who do have current experience in said community, that for the most part, it isn't highly fat positive (to put it mildly).
Regardless of how the gender lines fall in the queer community, it is crystal clear to me that what one (may have) been a bit of a haven for body positivity (and difference positivity in general) is no longer that haven. And it seems so terribly sad to me that a commnity which is essentially built on the fact that its members are subject to oppression based on their sexual (and/or gender) otherness would lose its ability to act as spaces which are inclusive of all kinds of other difference(s).
I often feel defensive when accused of being a 'mainstream' queer because I chose to make babies. (Actually, defensive is probably a bit of an understatement. It makes me want to punch people in the nose. But I'm all bad like that). I wonder how many of the folks that would call me 'mainstream' make fat jokes, date fat hot chicks/boys, or take fat phobia (and other forms of oppression) to task when they see it in their communities?
'Cause those attitudes... I gotta say, they're pretty fucking mainstream.