By Joshie Jaxon
Happy pride month, geeks fans! We just had our festival here in Salt Lake City, and I wanted to share my experience. Don’t worry, I’ll be brief. Especially as it’s nearly 2am as I start this piece. Though it’s been on my mind for a few days now. As you can tell from the title, body issues are gonna be brought up. I know I’ve talked on them before, in my far less successful blog, but they came up again, so here we are. Besides, it’s something many of us struggle with, and for some, it’s always on our minds, even if it’s just silently running in the background.
I’ve attend the pride festival every year since 2001. I even had a booth for my book series a few years ago. Pride for me was always a chance to get out and be among my community, without the safety of a screen to hide behind. It’s a great opportunity to see the various walks of life that make up our LGBT communityas a whole. There’s also plenty of eye candy, as long as the weather is nice; which thanks to fake news, er, climate change, it usually is. The temperature rises, and the amount of clothes people wear lowers. It’s a feast for the eyes, and a personal highlight of the festivities. The main reason for that being the majority of people going around practically naked are the ones you’d associate with the gay community. It’s mostly twinks and the jock/gym gays. The “good-looking” among us that we all secretly aspire to be. Though not bold enough to parade half naked in public, the closest I chose to get was my Joshie Quinn look, sans makeup. I’m confident in my legs. I’m a centaur, we’re good kickers.
Being a bear, those are the people I feel the most comfortable around. I have a different piece planned for da bears, but I’ll touch on them. Giggity. They’re the once facet of the community, aside from the lesbians, that don’t give a damn about size and shape, and celebrate everyone as they are, which is a beautiful thing. I found the local bear booth, and wanted to get a shirt to show my support. Not knowing how it would fit, I asked one of our Chair Bears for a shirt, and without thinking, slipped mine off to try it on. They told me it looked good, and I swapped my original back on. Hugs all around, and I continued with the rest of my day. I got hungry, and found myself in the pizza line with a very muscled bodybuilder. I know this, because during our wait, he mentioned how he was at 12% body fat, and needed to get to four for competition at the end of July. When it was time to order, he said I’d been nice, and bought my slice. Super nice guy. Even though it was odd he wasn’t getting any pizza for himself.
On my way back to Bri, who was waiting in the shade of trees with drinks, I got bumped, and the tip of my pizza slice hit the center of my white shirt. The horror! No tide pen. Not home to pre-treat. I need this shirt to not stain. It’s classic Joshie. I had no choice. I handed Bri my food, and pulled my shirt off. Splashed my water on it, and rubbed so the stain wouldn’t set. It then dawned on me that I was shirtless in public. Fans of the Gab will know that I embraced my body, and generally don’t care about nudity. I am who I am, like it or don’t. However, standing topless in the middle of an event designed to primarily celebrate the gorgeous among us, I felt uncomfortable. Bri asked if I was gonna put my shirt back on, and I decided not to. My logic being, the shirt was still wet, but more importantly, I had to do this for myself. The fact that I thought I had no right to be shirtless among my community made me realize I had to do it, no matter the cost. I had to be able to look at myself in the mirror.
I kept my shirt off, got some sunscreen, cause I’m a pale, Irish-rooted, vampire, and went back to walking the festival. I was very aware that my shirt was missing. It wasn’t the comfortable feeling I have being nude at home, or even in nature. There was the definite feeling that my community would judge me, and tell me to get dressed. Now, maybe I was merely projecting, but when you see “no fats, no fems, no Asians” on enough profiles, you realize how little the community as a whole wants anyone that isn’t chiseled and perfect. In that regard, I’ve never cared. If you want abs, move on, I’m never gonna have them. I ran into an ex of mine, who pretty much greeted me with the words that this was not a good look for me. I don’t know if it was me without my shirt, or the sparkly shoes and shorts. I didn’t ask. It’s better I don’t know. I did at least one lap of the festival grounds topless. Even got cat-called by my lady boss, which still felt nice to be celebrated for my bravery, as it was. As I wandered, there were others my size that were stripped a bit too, but with rainbow body paint, or #pride on them. I applaud them for being deliberate in their choice.
I’d like to say that I remained shirtless until I left, but I can’t. I put my shirt back on, and finished out my time. Though I didn’t get any mean comments, or looks that I was aware of, I was still uncomfortable. Even looking back on it, I feel a little anxiety. The real question it left me with, was am I as comfortable with myself as I think I am? I believe so. Hell, I’m naked on the internet in a non “come fuck me” kinda way. Clearly I don’t care who sees me. Then again, it’s the safety of the screen that may shield me from the anxiety. It’s the disconnect that we all have when we get online. It’s what allows us to say and do more than we might in person. I’m glad I had the experience that I did. Overall, I know that I’ll grow as a person because of it. I encourage any of my fellow “fatties” to not be discouraged by the chiseled. Do not let them damage the beautiful people that you are. You’re worth loving exactly as you are, and who you choose to be. Don’t allow their poison to change how you see yourself. If you’re a good person, who doesn’t harm others, you keep doing you. The right people will enter your life, and see you for the hottie that you are, no matter how much padding you may have.
Until next time, stay geeky, and keep gabbing!