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Bears

I Would’ve Liked To Stop

Because of my line of work in adult entertainment and nightlife industries, I have had to deal with three things that many of us have been victims of – slut shaming, kink shaming and body shaming. I have had to battle my way through some very harsh levels of criticism.

Some of you may disagree and think my body is acceptable and ask what would I know? Some of you may think, “Well he doesn’t even seem to care. In fact, he does it to himself by posting what he does, taking those kinds of pictures, and wearing those kinds of outfits.” Some of you have personally made attempts to make me feel like less.

Many times, I would’ve liked
to stop.

But if I stopped when you told me I was gross, what would that mean? When I let that boy kiss me in the bathroom when I was 21 and you told everyone I was a slut – What would it mean if I allowed that to crush me?

When I gogo danced the first time and you told me I was disgusting and that I should kill myself and donate my organs to people who deserved them, because I was a waste of life – What would it mean if I had stopped? If I had stopped when you lied and told people I was HIV positive, what would it make me? What message would it send to anyone watching, or anyone who wanted to try?

Many times, I would’ve liked
to stop.

I got so many messages over the years telling me all the reasons I needed to stop, but not because they cared about me, my future, or what I wanted. Living my life in a way that wasn’t limited by shame did something to them. It gnawed at them in a way that I, at the time, couldn’t understand. If I didn’t step down, it was clear that they intended to tear me down.

We were raised in a society that teaches you there is a specific guide we need to live our lives according to. As gay men, we’re taught that our worth is always less. Being raised in this manner can, at times, breed low self-esteem – so low that people desperately need, for just a moment, to feel like they’re better than someone else.

But who knew, when I least expected it, I’d get a letter from someone expressing thanks? They’d tell me how badly they felt about themselves because they were shamed by their family or peers, and that they wanted to try new things and explore life but were shamed into hiding.

They’d tell me how seeing me endure the negativity and respond to hateful messages with positivity would teach them that they could also live without fear of being shamed, and that they didn’t have to let the thoughts of others affect them so critically. This is something many of us do, and if you’re a person who has the courage to express yourself and be who you are, you have an obligation to do so.

Many times, I would’ve liked
to stop. But it became clear to me that stopping was no longer an option.

No longer was I doing this to prove to you that you were wrong. I was no longer doing this to prove to myself that I was enough. I was now doing it because I believed, in some way, that I could change the narrative, and that maybe, somehow, I could make a difference to the person sitting at home reading this feeling like less because of someone like you.

The post I Would’ve Liked To Stop appeared first on Bear World Magazine.

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