When You’re Fat, It Can Be Especially Hard To Come Out As Queer op-ed

I came out as fat to myself about five years ago. I also came out as bisexual to myself around the same time. Both were gradual and mutual processes.

“I think that there is a coming out process around being fat that is rarely discussed,” Dr. Carla Pfeffer, an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina, wrote in an interview conducted over email. Dr. Pfeffer has done extensive research on the sociological implications of fatness and sexuality.

According to sociologists Abigail Saguy and Anna Ward, “coming out as fat involves a person who is easily recognized as fat affirming to herself and others her fatness as a non-negotiable aspect of self, rather than as a temporary state to be remedied through weight loss.”

A fat person admitting to themselves and others that their fatness is a part of their identity rather than something they have to change about themselves can be a radical act of self-love and acceptance. To come out as fat means they are refusing to be a “good fatty.”

Living in a fat body frequently complicates how a person experiences their sexuality and gender expression. “Because of the hateful and pervasive social messaging around fatness — that it is ugly, unhealthy, disgusting, unclean, and unattractive — many fat people often find it challenging to fully embrace sex and their sexuality,” Dr. Pfeffer said. 

Sexual erasure of fat people occurs whether the person in question is heterosexual or homosexual. The erasure becomes more difficult to navigate as the fat person’s sexuality or gender identity becomes more “deviant.” Gay fat cis men are deemed “feminine” because they are fat, so they suffer double jeopardy from the oppressive notion of “no fats, no fems.” Lesbian fat cis women must deal with the narrative that they chose lesbianism because their fat bodies make it impossible for any man to ever be attracted to them. A fat trans person, regardless of sexuality or gender, has to navigate the concept of passing as a fat person, because their fatness transposes gender norms as it is. Read more via the Establishment