BY OBINNA TONY-FRANCIS OCHEM Africa is a homophobic continent and people who are born gay…
Another magazine, another shot of a ripped man posing shirtless, flaunting well-defined abs, toned muscles, piercing eyes, chiseled jawlines, and seductive charisma. This specimen, the ‘ideal’ gay man, appears in every publication, and all gay men are supposed to strive to be like this model.
The publication’s editor is a podgy middle-aged man with a receding hairline and a poor fashion sense. He’s gay. The magazine’s reader is a nerdy, lithe-looking adolescent who is insecure, depressed, lonely, and seeks solace in the world of Twitter – he’s also gay. The image imprinted in his mind.
Let me break it down for you: One of a person’s many facets is their sexuality. For example, you can be fat, slim, tall, short, introverted, extroverted, a lawyer, a bus driver, a person with a disability, a douchebag, a kind person, someone who eats chicken but is allergic to fish, among other things. These aspects of you do not make you any less gay or gayer than the others. Instead, they make up who you are.
In the LGBTQIA+ community, we often discuss inclusivity and intersectionality, which are essential discourses. However, certain stereotypes about people’s physical appearances are amplified in the gay community. These notions subtly assume that a certain appearance is the ‘proper’ and classic look, even though this isn’t the reality for most.
Not everyone has abs, chiseled jawlines, or is 6 ft. The vast majority of us are far from that. Heteronormativity should not be extended into the community.
We aren’t fighting for front-row seats at the ‘flawless’ coronation. We are in control of the stories we tell the younger generation. We must be cautious about what we offer to them.
Ipalibo is a writer.