Tag Archives: Homosexuality

The Unbearable Freedom Of Being

 

IMG_7961
Source: the Internet.

‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ a ninth grade English paper once asked me. It was a 20-mark essay, and I had 20 minutes to earn them. I rolled up my sleeves, and pulled out my cursive best.

The thing is, I wanted to be a great many things.

I wanted to be a chef, I wanted to be an actor, I wanted to be a painter, I wanted to be an astronaut, and for two weeks after I turned 11, I even wanted to be a National Geographic correspondent, if only because my older sister said that she wanted to be one. My essay – and the time allotted to write it – might have come to an end at this point, but my story didn’t. From the age of six to sixteen, I raced through changes. My styles, my sexual leanings and my haircuts changed, and so did my dreams.

Only, what did I never dream of being?

Myself.

All my years of adolescence, I had struggled to find myself, even though I struggled comfortably – I was so used to push my problems under a hypothetical carpet, and pretend they didn’t exist, that I never realized the lies I was hoarding up – little white lies, they wouldn’t hurt anyone, would they? It was an easy, lazy life.

I used this complacency as a security blanket, and wound it around myself whenever thoughts of the future terrified me. What would coming out (as a gay man) be like? Would it be a cakewalk or a walk down the plank? Would I have to talk about my feelings? Would I have someone to talk about my feelings to (a fair question, because I grew up thinking that you were only allowed to talk about your feelings at expensive therapy sessions, sappy book clubs or when watching romantic tearjerkers)?

Growing up was always a mark of independence – no more school, no more staying at home, no more rules, no more restrictions, no more getting worried over your mother’s eighteen missed calls (well, almost) – it seemed like a technicolour dream, being so free-spirited. But honestly, I didn’t know what I would do with all the freedom. Independence (or the mere thought of it) petrified me. What would I do being free?

Would I finally have to be myself?

People are terrified to be themselves, especially when bravery is an option, and not an obligation I’ve been called manipulative, selfish, a coward, a sore loser. Why would I want to be myself then? I’d rather be someone nicer and more admirable; I’d rather be someone else.

And that’s exactly what I did.

Some enjoy the peace that comes with accepting who you are, but most of us waltz on the fence in the middle. Take sexuality, for instance. We can stir ourselves to walk free and fabulous, but we’d rather stay safe and sound in the cage of heteronormativity. I made myself feel at home in the cage till I was twenty-one.

The thing about independence is that it doesn’t come gift-wrapped and express delivered to your front doorstep. It needs to be earned, or fought for.

Coming to terms with your sexuality and stepping out of the closet isn’t easy – especially when in a country like India, where minds can be as narrow as Bandra’s bylanes, even if you are an upper-class well-educated man (and sometimes, especially if you an upper-class, well educated man). Everyday life is a battle. As countless films and American television shows have told us, you don’t just wake up one morning and walk out into the sunlit world. To reach the closet door, you need to push through your woolens, those ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ shirts you bought on an impulse but will never wear, and the odd tangle of smelly socks, greying underwear and smutty novels you don’t want your mother to find. It will be tough, especially if you’ve been hoarding – and holding back – all your life.

And even when you do, it’s a never-ending process – those closet doors that everyone talks about? They are revolving. Week after week, you will find yourself coming out to friends, family, acquaintances, and (occasionally) drunken strangers at the bar. Perhaps one day it will not be the big deal that it is today, and you won’t have to worry whether your words are followed by a kiss to the cheek or a punch to the mouth. Every new acceptance is a fresh slice of independence, and you’ll wolf it all down without worrying about empty calories or complex carbs.

It will be liberating, the way you feel after you’ve survived a last-minute clearance sale. Only this is the clearance sale of regrets.

Fortunately, my personal coming out story reeks of acceptance and Hallmark cards – it happened at the dinner table, one Friday evening back in early 2015, over cups of chamomile and desiccated coconut biscuits. I sat my parents down, and told them everything in a diligently rehearsed 17-minute monologue.

In 18 minutes, it was done.

Questions were asked, hugs were exchanged, a tear was shed (that would be me). My mum went for a walk with her friends, and my dad continued solving the crossword puzzle. They accepted it with a simple shrug (and lots of love and support over the next couple of years, but this is the not a story about that). My sexuality was just another fact.

What about the war of words I had been expecting? The emotional bloodshed? The years of torment at the hands of society? They never came, even though the history books said that they would. Times are changing, and somewhere over pop culture references and more inclusive media representations, my parents and peers had changed as well. The history books had it wrong.

What they did get right was this – freedom felt liberating.

The freedom to stay single. The freedom to be a sexual deviant. The freedom to wear a skirt (if you are a man) or a jersey (if you are a woman). The freedom to wear both. The freedom to wear neither. The freedom to never find your way back home. The freedom to stay in for the night, with Netflix and a bottle of wine (that would be me again).

What do we do with the freedom then? Do we let it consume us? Terrify us into never seeking it out?

We do neither. We simply unwind and enjoy it with a cup of tea.

Preferably chamomile.

The Guysexual’s Guide To Freedom

 

freedom biyatch

What does freedom mean to me?

Wearing pyjamas on a Monday. Heading out on a vacation in the middle of January. Eating (and owning) eight bars of dark chocolate in one sitting. Netflix binging all week. Not replying to a text right away. Not feeling guilty about any of it.

Freedom might mean a lot of different things for each of us, but for the quintessential gay man in India, it means a lot more — the freedom to dress how they want, the freedom to love who they want, but most importantly, the freedom to be who they want.

At the end of the day, what else do you need independence from in India? You don’t need to answer the question; it was rhetorical.

But then again, the answers needn’t be. As Independence Day charges at us with all its tri-coloured glory, here are 15 different ideas that (gay) men need instant freedom from, this 15 August:

1. Body-shaming
I’ve said it before and I will say it again — square, round, fat, skinny, triangular, muscled, average, toned, thin, beefed up or even trapezoid — gay men (or anyone, for that matter) come in all shapes and sizes. As long as they are not a trigonometric equation, learn to appreciate all of them.

2. Patriarchy
Fun fact: did you know what makes a man (or woman) highly irresistible?
Their ideas on equality (and inclusivity).

3. Section 377
Because Section 377 is as redundant as Pahlaj Nihalani’s opinion right now. Let’s dust off the Constitution of India, and dust off those blues, shall we?

4. Bigotry
We all need to left swipe on extreme right wing propaganda – especially the one that opposes anything that is even remotely LGBT, including your (just the right amount of inappropriate) man crush on Rahul Khanna. Respect other people’s opinions like you would respect your mother on her birthday (or Mother’s Day).

5. Self hate
The only kind of people who hate gay men more than the bigots from above?
Gay men themselves. Internalised homophobia is real, boys and girls — it’s time to address the problem out in the open. Just like you should be.

6. Crocs
You might need freedom, boys — but your open toes don’t. The monsoons are over, so keep those crocs where YOU don’t belong — right at the back of your closet.

7. Judging relatives
Just like Apple’s license agreement and the disclaimer at the beginning of every movie, opinions of overbearing relatives are ticks that don’t need your attention.

8. Social media stress
The world might be going to war (here’s looking at you, North Korea and the United States of America) and I’ve still spent hours wondering why my #TransformationTuesday isn’t getting any Instagram love at 3 pm. It’s time to switch off the smart phones, and switch off that stress. I’ll probably go to the gym and work on my glutes instead.

9. Toxic love
No, the fact that he pinged you at 2 am, three months after he cheated on you (and effectively dumped you after) does not mean he’s trying to get back into your life. He probably just wants to get back into your pants. Love might be a lot of things, but it’s never deceitful. Nothing toxic can ever come out of a genuine, romantic relationship. Always remember that.

10. Notions of heteronormativity
Some people believe in monogamy. Some people believe in polygamy. Some people believe in free love. As long as you are practising safe sex, leave your notions of what is right and what is wrong right next to the used condom wrappers.

11. Gender appropriation
If Kiran, with the gender-neutral name, wants to dress in a way that’s slightly gender-fluid, don’t be a douche about it. No one needs that kind of negativity in their life — especially when they are trying to walk in six-inch stilettos in a busy Mumbai street.

12. Bullying
Just because I was okay with the fact that I spent most of high school getting pushed against lockers (and the occasional fellow nerd), doesn’t mean I am okay being dragged down a trail of comments by internet trolls, thank you very much.

13. No sugar diets
If gay men gave more importance to positivity than their protein supplements, the world would be a sweeter place to live in. Cinnamon bun intended. Empty calories aside, cutting sugar out just leads to an emptier life.

14. Bad television
The only thing worse than no LGBT representation in film (and other media) is shitty LGBT representation in film (and other media). Think of it this way — every time a gay person is portrayed as a promiscuous, sassy fashionista with no morals (or a wrist bone) on screen, a baby seal is clubbed to death in Antarctica.
Or worse, Chetan Bhagat comes out with another book.

15. Peroxide hair
Just one word: Nope.

Happy Damaged Men: Is Broken the new bad?

Broken guys

It’s the second date.

We are in that no-man’s land between deciding whether we want to tell each other our favourite Game Of Thrones character or deciding who pays for dinner tonight. In the last 40-odd minutes, he’s told me he’s an alcoholic, wrote a long vicious email to an ex who he broke up with and is now so broken that he can never get into a serious relationship. And I thought we were only getting dinner.

If I collect any more red flags, I can start my own souvenir shop. Would you like to buy one for your friends back home?

“So I might have to go grab dinner with a few friends later. Do you mind if we just get a drink at home instead?” he asks me, stirring me out of my monologue-inspired reverie. It’s only 6.30 pm. The sun is still out, deciding what to do in the dull city sky. Ranveer is an executive producer with a media mogul — in his plush suburban apartment; he only sees the things I don’t. I don’t blame him — why would he see the white picket fence dream when he has a sea-facing view? Why can’t he be like every second profile on Grindr — sane and sorted, butlooking for fun?

I agree to the drink nevertheless (White rum, four cubes of ice, some lime water). I also agree to other things.

Hugs are exchanged when I leave two hours later.

Continue reading Happy Damaged Men: Is Broken the new bad?

The Guysexual’s Guide to Every Gay Man’s Treasure Chest of One Liners

 

Guilty

Gay men are a lot of things.

We might come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and have temperaments as diverse as the cast of Grey’s Anatomy, but it all boils down to one thing in the end — as homosexual men, we are a storehouse of corny one-liners, sassy quips and stereotypical jokes that’ll put all the Kardashian Sisters (even the new ones) to shame. Don’t believe me?

Well, whether you are a red-blooded activist who churns out slogans for breakfast, or a social butterfly who sleeps when it’s time to have breakfast, it’s a given that we’ve all been guilty of having said at least a few of these (often cringe worthy) well-worded gems:

Continue reading The Guysexual’s Guide to Every Gay Man’s Treasure Chest of One Liners

#30DaysOfPride: 30 Gay Men Tell Me What Pride Means To Them

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June marked LGBTIQA Pride month.

To honour the #30DaysOfPride, I asked 30 different men what #Pride meant to them. The answers poured in from all over my little black book — from actors and illustrators, journalists and doctors, entrepreneurs and bankers. The fact that I have a huge social circle aside, here’s what they had to say about every gay man’s favourite little word (which is not Grindr):

‘Pride means spreading the rainbow love, just like a leprechaun. It’s about finding your pot of gold. Only, the pot of gold is acceptance.’

— Jaysh, film-maker

‘Pride is a platform to show that celebration has no gender or sexuality; and that we stand together as one — gay, straight, and transgendered. I feel like it’s a system that encourages more people to come out to themselves and then to the world.’

— Swapnil, computer whiz

‘Pride means the freedom to be whoever I want to be — fierce, feisty or fabulous. Freedom from prejudice. Freedom from hate. Freedom from Section 377.’

— Siddhanth (name changed), student

‘Pride is the distant hope of self-acceptance.  Am I okay being gay? Yes. Am I proud of it? Not fully yet. But I know I’ll reach there sooner than later. That said, I wish there was more representation for the LBT side of the community. Unfortunately, it’s still a ‘Man’s World’ here. Is there a Grindr for lesbians?’

— Akshat, advertising guru

‘Pride means pushing the government to legalise gay sex. Let’s be the democracy that we proudly say that we are.’

— Hayden, entrepreneur

‘Pride means not looking down on people who are proud to be the best version of themselves. Let’s stop the hate, and spread some love?’

— Arnav, video editor

‘Pride is a feeling of being comfortable with who you are, and being comfortable in your skin. It’s the simplest kind of joy there is.’

— Sumeet, fashion god

‘Pride is the one formal occasion where you can address the issue of your sexual orientation with the public without any preface — you simply don’t need one. It’s nice to have it out there, even if one doesn’t attend — that doesn’t need to bind you. But I’d love to see more allies attending. It’d be nice to know in person that our friends actually support us. The little things matter the most, don’t they?’

— Ganesh (name changed), copy editor

‘Pride means empowerment, freedom and inclusiveness. And the world (and we) could with a bit more of all the three.’

— Sahil, fashion manager

‘Pride for me is essentially doing away with any form of stereotypical associations and labels surrounding the community (yes, that includes rainbows and unicorns) while, it is also about NOT being judgmental. Each one of us is a distinct universe in itself, and our sexuality is a mere planet – this thought needs to percolate the mind of every human in the world.’

— Guru (name changed), cyclist

‘Pride means making the world a better place to live in, because we are better human beings, aren’t we? Now how about we welcome some gay bars in the country, and get some hot Latinos as well?’

— Oshan, marketing strategist

‘Pride means loving myself, and telling my demons to go take a hike.’

— Jacob, writer

‘Pride means positivity. It means that we have to stop discriminating within our own community based on body type and behaviour! You say “No fats, no femmes”? I say you are a douchebag.’

— John, analyst

‘I have an issue with the word Pride. To me, it is a reflective word wherein it segregates one kind from another. I would rather we use the world equality — for all sexes and sexual orientations, races, ethnicities and religions.  Equality will be a better goal. Not everybody was born equal, and not everybody wants the same things in life. I believe that we need legal and social-cultural instruments that allow for diversity. Beyond the legal and social struggles that plague the LGBT community in our heteronormative and patriarchal world, I have a sinking suspicion that the bigger challenge for the LGBT community will be fighting its own internal hypocrisy and inequality. I hope more people realised that.’

— Usmaan (name changed), architect

‘Pride is representation. It’s normalising the stigma that stunts diversity. For every little boy who goes to bed scared to keep a secret, Pride represents strength. To claim the life that is a privilege to many, but an everyday battle of coming out for us.’

— Anuj, consultant

‘They don’t call it a #Pride of lions just for aesthetics.’

— Kartik, copywriter

‘Pride here is San Francisco’s equivalent of Diwali or Christmas, without all the high-pressure gift giving or the elevator music. It’s a time for people to celebrate who they are, and unapologetically be themselves. But it’s also an occasion to celebrate everything that the LGBT community has achieved so far, and how much more work remains in the march to equality and acceptance around the world. Here’s hoping that Supreme Court of India finally acts on the issue, and more people speak up for the rights of the community.’

— Dhruv, doctor

‘Pride isn’t a week nor is it something that I seek. It’s not something that I wish for, nor does it define me. My sexuality is my business, just as a heterosexual man’s is. I don’t try to celebrate it, as I don’t mean to mark myself any different.’

— Kaustav (name changed), strategist

‘I am proud not for being a homosexual, but for the self-assertion that I am gay. Queer people just need a tad more self-acceptance and self-pride, because we constantly face challenges and doubts about ourselves. I want more and more people to come out; we need to show that we exist — after all, fighting for the rights of an invisible community will always be difficult, and we’ve already got a lot on our plate.’

— Deepak, psychologist

‘Pride is a bunch of mixed feelings. I believe in breaking the rules, and colouring outside the borders. For me, Pride represents emotions. It represents fight. It represents courage. It means that we are unequal, which is why one has to fight for justice.’

— Ronak, data analyst

‘Pride means homosexuality is so much more than just being a Lady Gaga song.’

— Raj (name changed), actor

‘To me, Pride is an amalgamation of three things.  To be comfortable with who you are and be able to exude the same, to acknowledge and be thankful for those who’ve stood up against the oppression, and to finally be cognizant of the fact that each one of us can be an agent of change in our own way, however big or small, to speak up about measures of inequality.’

— Ishaan, idea maker

‘#Pride means owning up to your orientation. It’s that simple.’

— Jaymin, founder at Salvation Star

‘To quote Albert Camus, “the only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion”. When myriad colours, flamboyant attire and in-your-face unabashed sexuality walks along with the skeptical mask-wearing first-timers, the one message that resonates from Pride is of upholding individual liberty and respecting choice.’

— Aman, health consultant

‘Equal rights and equal opportunities. That goes without saying.’

— Rafael, illustrator

‘Pride is the antithesis of shame. The shame that queer people feel for being who they are, and that most continue feeling periodically over time. I feel like it is one of the steps we take towards not feeling this shame. What the country needs are more spaces in the cities where LGBT folks can socialise, outside of the regular bi-monthly parties. A space where we can finally, be.’

— Vinit, finance consultant

‘Pride is the mainstreaming of a conversation that all levels of Indian society need to engage in. LGBTQ folk come from all sections of the society and have many shared concerns: acceptance and normalcy being the top of the list. Pride helps bring that to light. At the same time, it also means being aware, sensitive and having conversations that might seem difficult: About HIV, hatred that stems from ignorance, our own biases and widespread loneliness. Pride needs to be a life long commitment, not just a day of merriment and brash defiance.’

— Varun, journalist

‘It’s something we shouldn’t be needing if we received equal treatment, but which we now have to display loudly just to kick sense into the minds of mud heads. If that doesn’t work, maybe a baseball bat would do. Just saying.’

— Kurien, chemical researcher

‘Pride is about inclusivity, even for all the gay men with the white-collar jobs.’

— Karan, stylist

‘Pride means being proud of who you are. It means quitting comparing yourself with others and loving yourself for what you stand for. What do I see for the future then? Better, comprehensive mental health care services for the LGBTIQA youth and anti-bullying laws that are more stringent.’

— Alok, food blogger

The 50 Things You Hear At Every LGBT Party

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  1. ‘Wait. Is this only entry? I thought it was cover.’
  2. ’I wasn’t going to show up, but then I had nothing else to do…do you have a light?’
  3. ‘Hey, hi! Do you think I can borrow a cigarette from you? Benson Lights? Sure, anything will do.’
  4. ‘Is he looking at me? Wait, is he looking at you? Okay, the first one to talk to him takes him home tonight.’
  5. ‘I think I need a shot…make that two. Can you pay for these? I forgot my credit card in my other wallet today,’
  6. ‘That shirt on those pants? He’s such a fashion disaster – he should be happy he’s cute!’
  7. ‘I might have made out with that boy at the party last month, but I am not very sure. It was so dark…’
  8. “ Oh damn! I slept with him! And him! Yikes, and the third one too!’
  9. ‘Do you think I can survive on one beer all night long?’
  10. ‘OMG, where have you been? You disappeared! I haven’t seen you since…. oh wait, we ran into each other at the last one.’
  11. ‘Can we please leave before closing bell? I hate making small talk when the lights are back on,’
  12. ‘So gay parties aren’t usually my thing, but I wanted to come check out what the hype is all about…oh hold on, I see a friend, I’ll talk to you later?’
  13. ‘Is it just me, or are the lights dimmer than usual?’
  14. ‘Oh, you wear sandals? How cute.’
  15. ‘That new Adele song? Story of my life.’
  16. ‘Can I have a mojito? Hello? Hello? Umm, Mr. bartender?’
  17. ‘I want to go pee so badly, but all the stalls are full, and I am too intimidated to use the urinals, you know what I mean?’
  18. ‘Ughhh. This party is full of people I didn’t want to run int-…heyyy! What are you doing here? We were just talking about how lovely the crowd is today!’
  19. ‘…And that’s exactly why you should never ever be a part of an orgy!’
  20. ‘Sorry, but this might seem awkward, but what’s your name again?’
  21. ‘Seriously, do you have any idea where the after party is at?’
  22. ‘I totally don’t mind being objectified right now.’
  23. ‘Did you see how he had his tongue down his throat? So sick. Think someone will make out with me like that?’
  24. ‘Oh god, oh god, hide…it’s my ex!’
  25. ‘Why did you leave me alone and go? Now stand right here while I scout the rest of the party!’
  26. ‘ If his t-shirt gets any tighter, he would look like a mannequin. A hot one, but a mannequin nonetheless.’
  27. ‘…And this funny thing happened, where I told him I might have accidentally slept with his twin brother too…’
  28. ‘This party is so boring; I should have just stayed home tonight. Wait, while you are heading to the bar, get me a beer? No, wait…make it a Long Island Iced Tea.’’
  29. ‘The music is so
  30. ‘Did you see what he was wearing; it’s so hideous tha – … oh, hi! How are you doing? I absolutely love what you are wearing today!’
  31. ‘Damn, I wish someone comes and buys me a drink.’
  32. ‘Oh my god! It has been so long since I saw you last? Where have you been?’
  33. ‘So where were you pre-drinking?’
  34. ‘So where are we drinking after?’
  35. ‘Have you seen how expensive the drinks are here, I am going to wing it with only one beer for the rest of the night…’
  36. ‘I would go and smoke outside but it’s so hot. Do you think the air conditioning is on?’
  37. ‘If I were him, I wouldn’t be wearing that pink dress jacket here. Actually, I wouldn’t wear it anywhere…’
  38. ‘Want to stand in the corner and make fun of everyone?’
  39. ‘…Why are you surprised to see them together? Didn’t you hear – they are an item again.’
  40. ‘The last time I was here, I got so wasted, I don’t remember a thing. There are videos somewhere, but I’d rather not see them…’
  41. ‘Is he checking me out? Tell me, is he checking me out?’
  42. ‘That’s a seven, and that’s a five, oh no wait, I think he’s a four…’
  43. ‘Do you think they saw me? Okay, pretend to say something really serious so that it looks like we don’t want out conversation to be disturbed.’
  44. ‘I think he was wearing the same outfit the last time around.’
  45. ‘Does anyone know where the after party is happening?’
  46. ‘You are getting there at 10? Who gets there that early? People would think you don’t have a life.’
  47. ‘You want to come back to my place? I have a great collection of jazz music…’
  48. ‘Don’t you think the crowd was better last time around?’
  49. ‘I am going to play a game where I count the number of people I’ve slept with.’
  50. ‘I’ve heard rumours that there are lines happening in the bathrooms…’

Time to be fat and fabulous: Let’s say no to gay bullying?

 

Body shaming 1x1.jpg

It’s a balmy night in 2014.

I am at an LGBT party in the suburbs with a drink in my hand and grinding couples on the side. I feel a tap on my shoulder. It’s Daniel, an American expat who moved to the city almost a decade ago. I smile.

Our relationship can be summed up by ‘pokes’ and staggering witty banter on Facebook. It’s one of many dalliances I’ve had that die an early death, even before numbers can be exchanged. He squints at my face.

“You look a lot different than in your pictures; have you been drinking a lot?”

I suck in my stomach and my self-respect. Is it that last French fry that I just popped into my mouth? Is it too much alcohol? Is it too less sleep? A heavy bone structure? Just bad genes? Or simply the fact that I have my heart in my throat?

I mumble out a lame excuse and blend myself with the background. Daniel busies himself with a pretty boy by the bar, as I exit out of my guest-starring role in their soon-to-be love story. I can walk back home in shame, but this is 2014, and I don’t have a Fitbit to count the calories I will burn.

If you are a human being who wasn’t born with a set of six packs to flaunt at the beach, you’ve probably witnessed it firsthand — every gay man has either been at the receiving or serving end of body shaming (or sometimes even both) — it’s like Mean Girls but with men. Don’t believe me? Just walk into the next LGBT party.

Or simply log into Grindr.

You’ll hear a storehouse of excuses. He’s too fat. He’s too thin. He’s too skinny. He’s too chubby. He’s too square — the entire concept of the perfect body is almost as fictitious as Donald Trump’s chances of winning the presidential election. (I wrote this before the results were out, sadly). While the glorification of the male body has always been an important part of gay culture, social media is partly to blame. Hiding behind Instagram edits and Snapchat filters, it only becomes easier to project the most perfect versions of ourselves. Plus, you can do this while scoping out the competition and secretly judging everyone who doesn’t look good in a tank top (Side note: I have a love-hate relationship with tank tops. I’d love to wear them, but they hate me.)

As a self-deprecating, but self-loving gay man, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t done the same. Are we trained to put the more gym-toned, ripped men at the top of the pedestal, at the very height of the LGBT food chain (right next to the celebrity A-listers)?

We pump ourselves with protein supplements, count our meals by calories and sync our steps with fitness apps, while laughing at the ones who don’t. Think of it this way: Every time you do, more and more men are pushed back into oversized cardigans and Internet diets. More and more men are pushed into eating salad as an actual meal.

Let’s be honest.

It’s body shaming and we do it to each other and ourselves. It might be in the form of ribald jokes at the gym, hushed whispers at a party or drunken barbs on a date, but it still doesn’t change the fact that these are negative connotations that single-handedly target someone’s image issues.

Fawad, a business mogul, moves between London and Bombay every other month — his hectic life keeps him busy enough to not bother himself with weekly dates, but he still partakes in the occasional drink. Unlike Daniel from 2014, Fawad is a friend. A friend who told me about a date that went disastrously wrong.

“What else would you call a fat person, if you don’t call them fat? Cellulite isn’t sexy,” he scoffed. Clearly, the date in question wasn’t an Abercrombie & Fitch underwear model.

I gently push away the pizza we are sharing. Four hundred calories that’ll never help me find true love. Fawad, with his fitted shirts and angular cheekbones, on the other hand, has it all. Apart from my respect in the given situation.

“I don’t see what the problem is,” he says nonchalantly, sipping on his gin and tonic. But one wouldn’t expect men who wear fitted shirts to understand the problem in the first place.

Body shaming in the gay world is as serious as global warming — think of people’s feelings as the ozone layer. You are depleting them, and you aren’t helping the world by doing so. Want to do your bit to change the world? The next time you even think you might be body shaming a fellow gay man, just make sure you aren’t saying any one of these things:

“I feel so fat. Do I look fat today?”

“You probably shouldn’t be eating that…”

“Those pants don’t look good on you at all. What were you thinking?”

“Did you see the love handles on that one? I swear he had a muffin top…”

“‘You want to get with someone? Why don’t you just lose a little weight?”

“His ass is flatter than a plasma TV.”

“I swear he had boobs.”

“I wish I was as skinny as you, damn. I wish I was anorexic.”

“He gained so much weight after we broke up. I clearly won the relationship.”

“… At least you are not a twink!”

Let’s face it, we come in different shapes and sizes, and it’s unfair to think that we can be all cast from the same mold. Whether you are skinny and thin, big and muscular or a Venti and decaf (that’s just my coffee order), you need to know that everyone is unique in their own way — the first place to start over is your dating profile. What you say out aloud or through those 250 characters can say a lot about you. After all, when you say “No fats, no femmes” on your Grindr profile, you aren’t critiquing the kind of men you wouldn’t want to charm over dinner, you are critiquing yourself.

After all, we don’t need to pack ourselves with protein, boys, we just need to pack ourselves with positivity. And that’s something you can share over a plate of fries.