I always thought that the hardest part of being gay was coming out. I thought that once I took that frightening yet brave and exciting step forward into the light, that acceptance was sure to follow. To my delight, my family and friends were the first to shower me with love and embrace me for the real me. To my surprise, I quickly found that acceptance within the gay community itself is something hard to come by. “No Fems”, “No Chubs”, “No Asians”, “Masc Only”, “Fit Only” were brandished across dating platforms, already making me feel unwelcomed, unwanted and unaccepted. This made me realise that the community that I was so ready to be a part of, so excited to be embraced by, was not all I thought it was. This forced me to reevaluate what acceptance meant to me.
I personally have struggled with my weight all my life. I have been overweight to the point that it was affecting my health, and I have been under-nourished to the point where I didn’t feel like myself. My weight was on this constant pendulum where I was going from one extreme to the other and just not able to figure out the right balance or happiness. In the midst of the global chaos of the past two years, I found time and peace to focus on my body and on figuring out what happiness looks like to me. After revitalizing my lifestyle and falling in love with exercising, I sculpted my body into happiness. The specific amount of weight lost or my current weight mean nothing to me as they are both just numbers that I think are counterproductive to focus on – because confidence is a feeling, not a number. Happiness is an emotion, not a certain look.
Through all of the ups and downs of my acceptance journey, my body has picked up some battle scars, or ‘physical accolades’ if you will, in the guise of stretch marks. These stretch marks used to torment me as glaring signs of my flaws but now I view them as markers of my journey, as imperfections that make me who I am. My stretch marks tell my story. Now, true acceptance to me comes from within yourself and can’t be derived from anyone.
For someone whose name literally means “pride”, this Pride is extremely special for me as I get to celebrate in-person again but also because it is the first Pride where I am the happiest and most confident I have ever been in my life. I found what happiness means and looks like to me and I will continue using that as my benchmark to live my life. I no longer want to be a prisoner of the physical requirements of the gay community and I want to live life according to what I view as beautiful. I have learned that not everyone will accept you, but all that matters is that you accept yourself.