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Body Beautiful ...


"And Where Is the Body ..."

By Brandon Lacy Campos

May 24, 2011


I love Salt-n-Pepa ... a black, feminist, sexually empowered hip hop group from the early 90s? Clutch the pearls and call Tupac back from the dead.

One of my favorite songs by this hallmark group was featured in the opening credits of Too Wong Foo Thanks For Everything Julie Newmar: "Body Beautiful." It's a song about loving your body and who you are without taking on the body image baggage of the world. With queer men suffering from body dysmorphism and eating disorders at the same rates experienced by women, I have more than a passing familiarity with the need to love one's body. Though I have never struggled with eating disorders (other than the disorder of loving to eat all the damn time), I have always struggled with body image.

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As an adult, I have weighed anywhere from 150 pounds (when I was living in Puerto Rico, eating beans and rice every day, swimming a half mile every afternoon and running a mile every morning) to climbing up to 210 pounds (of pure anti-muscle) in 2003 when I was unemployed, depressed, and sat in my house lamenting my recent HIV diagnosis. I have been more and less muscular, more and less skinny, and throughout all of it, even though the numbers on the scale changed radically, even when I was at my skinniest and/or most toned, my eyes zeroed in on any available flaw: a scar here, stretch marks there and the greatest of all sins ... the ever present ... BACK FAT!

At one point I could wear my friend Karly's board shorts. Karly is all of 5'4" and a marathon runner ... and even then ... I STILL saw myself as overweight or out of proportion or whatever message of the moment was running through my brain. As if!

Over the last couple of months, as I have been looking for work, I have been spending a lot of quality time at the Gold's Gym. In fact, for the last six or seven weeks, I have been going to the gym twice a day for about an hour or so at a time for probably six days a week. And thanks to some nutrient support garnered from Eva's Natural Foods in the West Village, I, for the first time, have pecs that I can move independent of one another and my ass has started to bend space/time and defy gravity.

And guess what ... even though dudes at the gym that once never glanced in my direction now I catch boldly staring at me and/or make sure to say hello to me when I am in their general area, my eyes still zero in on that touch of back fat or the stretch marks by my arm pits or the fact that my butt doesn't have those hot side dimples quite yet.

Ummmm what the fuck, Batman.

And then, of course, there is the anger at the boys that never gave me the time of day now that are offering me their watches, mixed with the straight up love of the attention, and then peppered with the anger at myself for finding more worth in the stares of this or that muscle queen than in my own eyeballs when I look in the mirror. (And don't even get me started about what it means to have HIV living behind these pecs and underneath this skin ... and what that may or may not mean and/or how it may or may not affect the appreciative glances I now am receiving ... that is another blog entry).

But, I figure if I am doing all this personal growth work on myself, trying to stay away from old behaviors that didn't serve me well, and trying to become a better, healthier blah blah blah person ... I should probably have a good chat with the man in the mirror (MISS YOU MICHAEL!).

So, each week (I started last week) around Friday or so ... I am going to take a shirtless picture and post it on Facebook. I am going to love my body come Hell or high water, stretch marks, back fat, stares, no stares and all. WERQ (out)!

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See Also
Ten Things You Can Do to Enhance Your Emotional Well-Being
More on Self Image and Coping With HIV
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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Brandon Lacy Campos (New York, NY) Wed., Jun. 1, 2011 at 1:55 pm EDT
@Anonymous Tienes apoyo alla? Fijate, hay recursos buenos en espanol disponible de esta pagina de red y en otros. Si quieries mas, buscate la pagina del Hispanic AIDS Forum o El Comision Latino de VIH/SIDA.

@Minnow HAHAHA. I am blessed in that I am a non progressor, but most definitely now that I have achieved a certain body type, my status seems to have decreased in importance. Hmmmm.
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Comment by: Gargantuan Minnow (London) Mon., May. 30, 2011 at 11:16 am EDT
I had roughly the same experience as John.

If you look tired and thin (we're talking facial wasting, facial rashes, and Bell's Palsy), the queens just don't want to know you - you are either invisible, or worse, a joke ("...don't talk to her, she's got AIDS...").

When you start looking healthier (facial fillers, rash disappears, Bell's Palsy fades), all those bitchy queens gush over you and nobody gives a Sh*t if you are HIV!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It seems that nobody cares if HIV will kill you, just as long as it doesn't make you look UGLY. Hahaha. LOL!
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Comment by: Anonymous Sat., May. 28, 2011 at 6:14 pm EDT
disculpa,yo tambien teng vih y estoy dentro de un foro en mi pais buenos aires.
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Comment by: Brandon Lacy Campos (New York, NY) Fri., May. 27, 2011 at 8:02 am EDT
Word John, WORD.
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Comment by: John (Atlanta, Ga) Thu., May. 26, 2011 at 2:51 pm EDT
Dont you just love how superficial gay men are? I put on 45lbs over this last christmas holiday, due to unemployment and depression. Would go out and not one person would give me the time of day. Lost 45lbs, work out 5 days a week and now I am fighting them off. You know if you are not going to love me for who I am but what I look like, then I am just not that interested. Funny thing is when you look good people seem to overlook the HIV, at least in my experience... cuz I tells everybody
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Brandon Lacy Campos

Brandon Lacy Campos

Brandon Lacy Campos is a 32-year-old queer, poz, African-American, Afro-Puerto Rican, Ojibwe and Euro (smorgasbord) poet, playwright, blogger, journalist and novelist (that last one is slowly coming along). In 2009, MyLatinoVoice.com named him the #2 queer, Latino blogger to watch. In 2006, the Star Tribune named him a young policy wonk for his political shenanigans. His writing and poetry have appeared in numerous anthologies including, most recently, Mariposas, edited by Emanuel Xavier and published by Floricanto Press. This fall, his work will appear in the academic text Queer Twin Cities, published by the University of Minnesota Press. And, one of these days, Summerfolk Press will be publishing his first solo book of poetry: It Ain't Truth If It Doesn't Hurt. Brandon is hard at work on his first novel, Eden Lost, and he lives in New York City with his partner, artist David Berube, and his boss, Mimzy Lacy Berube de Campos (their dog).

It's with heavy hearts that we share that Brandon passed away unexpectedly on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012. He was 35 years old. Read memorials by Brandon's friends and colleagues.


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