Having a healthy body image as a black LGBTQ+ person

by Mahkesha Hogg
LGBTQ+ Black Issues Columnist

While focusing on health amongst black LGBTQ+ people, I started to think of how many perceive themselves as far as body image and if there are certain pressures to look a certain way. Mental health, having a positive body image, self-worth and a feeling of acceptance all go hand in hand.

Of course, I cannot give an answer as to how all black queer people view themselves or the pressures they face when it comes to dating and sex, but I can try and give insight from a few of my friends.

The questions I asked black lesbian, gay, gender queer, non-binary, and bisexual people in Oklahoma City gave me answers that shocked and educated me. The commonality amongst all their answers was that they felt pressured to live up to the stereotypes and perceptions about how their bodies should look as a black queer person.

I found that many of the pressures they face are pretty much the same pressures that straight, cisgender black people face.

The stereotypes about black bodies are that we have curves, strong muscles and sensuality. In my 12 years of being an ally and activist in the LGBTQ+ community, I noticed many white gay and bisexual males often talk about getting skinny or felt pressured to be skinny. I wanted to know if black LGBT+ people in our community felt the same.

A black bisexual friend said how black men who have sex with men who are “tops” are made to feel that they have to be physically fit with defined muscles. The bottoms, much like black women, are supposed to have round plump behinds, even to the point of getting an augmentation.

I found this interesting because I have felt the same type of pressure to have a round large plump butt with straight guys of all races. If my butt weren’t big enough or to their standards, sometimes I would be told, or it would be assumed that it was before meeting in person.

One of my lesbian friends said that she feels that the black LGBT+ community is expected to have perfect proportion, nice size breasts, big butt, flat stomachs and hair styled perfectly. She said that if you are not their fantasy, then it’s as if you are not as attractive as the other POC in the community.  

All of them said that they did not feel the need to be thin. I say that whoever you are meant to be with will love your body and not make you feel like you need to change to be with that person. Self-care is so important for all of us. You should know you are terrific the way you are!

The person who is meant for you will appreciate all of you.

I am glad that I checked in with my friends because I would not have gained this perspective and had no clue that they faced these pressures. 

Positive perceptions of yourself, regardless of expectations are vital to good mental health.

Like Lady Gaga says “God makes no mistakes…you were born this way.”

Copyright The Gayly – March 19, 2019 @ 7:25 a.m. CDT.