So there’s this gay club that’s been around for a lot of decades called Girth and Mirth. When I lived in New York City, they held monthly dances at the LGBT Center in Greenwich Village. I think they still do.

The club exists as a convenient way for gay men who are sexually attracted to fat men to meet them. That such an attraction can be a fetish is something they freely acknowledge, but not something they dismiss as negative out of hand.

I hung out at the Center a lot because of the work I did with Queer Nation, Act Up, and SAGE, so I was often around while those dances were going on. While admirers (called chubby chasers in the subculture) might sometimes have been narrow fetishists who weren’t into the whole person, I saw more than a handful of couples get together and develop strong partnerships.

I think that being strongly physically attracted to a particular characteristic can be something we just have to acknowledge exists. That we can also understand that it’s not the end of the game. Obviously, people aren’t going to get together and form strong partnerships unless lots of other things work too.

At about the same time, I knew this guy Reggie. What a character. He was descended from native Americans and looked it, though he rarely claimed the identity and certainly never dressed in any stereotypical way. He was brashly effeminate, often over the top. He dated around a bit, but he was most strongly attracted to men with East Asian ancestry. And he wasn’t shy about loudly proclaiming it! I suppose those particular physical features were something of a fetish for him. It’s not something he planned, it’s just how he ended up wired. He eventually settled down with a hot young banker from Hong Kong, and as far as I could tell the two of them were really happy.

Is this a case where something that was technically a fetish turned into something really positive? Maybe.

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.

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