Men Like Us – Raymond
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Men Like Us – Raymond

August 29, 2019

RAYMOND WILSON: My dad came from a farming background, so there was always this masculinity around, you know, men that worked and what they did, and it wasn’t about being pretty or looking a certain way, or being this stereotypical picture of a gay man that you think of. I’ve always looked at them in that way and thought, that’s what I’m attracted to, and never thought that it was unusual. I was travelling up to Hamilton from Tokoroa on weekends, occasionally, to go out. And that’s when I started thinking that I had to look like most of the other people that were going out to these clubs and stuff. INTERVIEWER: What did they look like? RAYMOND WILSON: Well, they were slim to medium builds, they had good bodies, and they obviously worked out. They looked good, and, you know, to a certain degree they were attractive to me, which just made me look at them and go, “Oh, that’s what I want to look like,” You know, “I want to have the flat stomach and I want to be able to wear the little singlets,” and… I just looked at them and through, well, is this what I need to look like to be gay? When I moved to Australia, that’s when I noticed how I looked being quite important. I had been in Australia for… it would have only been a matter of days, and I was standing in a nightclub with a friend, dancing away, and had a man walk up to me on the dance floor and tell me that if I’d lost ten kilos, I’d look really good. That was probably a big catalyst for me in terms of… am I always going to be the big guy that’s by himself, or that’s single, or has to work three times as hard as anyone else to get people to notice him or want to be in a relationship with him. The more people I’d slept with, the more I felt that people wanted me. It was very easy to go out and do that, and do lots of it, and feel a little bit better about yourself. It’s a really shallow thing to say, but you do, because you’re getting some attention. But you’ve had to put yourself in some pretty dodgy situations to get that attention. I’ve been through numerous phases. I went through the drug phase, you know, just taking lots of drugs and not eating a lot. And like, “Oh, look at me, I’m losing lots of weight,” So if I was feeling shit I would eat, or I would make an excuse to not exercise. I’ve lost friends over it. They’ve got sick of me being the person who was always like, “Oh, I’m fat,” or “I’m not going to do that because…” “I’m not going to go swimming because I don’t want to take my shirt off” or, “I’m not going to go to a party where everyone’s all dressed in tight clothing, “because I’m going to look like an idiot.” Friends don’t help, sometimes, especially when I was younger. We can all be bitchy, and I think that to a certain degree that’s elevated somewhat in gay circles. A lot of gay men, especially younger gay men, aren’t scared to tell you what they think, or to put out there that they don’t like what they see. A few years ago, I’d gotten to the point where I convinced myself that I wasn’t that big. And I was going to a ball, and one, struggled to find anything to fit, and thought that it was just that, you know, there wasn’t much variety for bigger men, or for thicker-set guys, or… just made up excuses in my own head as to why things weren’t eventuating how I would have liked them to eventuate. And then saw photos of myself from that night, and thought, “You’ve done this to yourself.” And, “Look what you’ve done to yourself.” I’d gotten to about 137 kilos. I just looked at those photos and thought, “You’ve finally become that horrible big person “that you used to compare yourself to walking down the street.” You know? And who did that? Me. Did I get to the point of thinking that there was not much point in sticking around? Yep. Did I get to the point where I sat there and thought, actually, you’ve got nothing to offer, noone’s going to want that? Yeah, absolutely. I really do put a lot of me losing a lot of my weight down to that one person, who had the guts to say to me, “I’m worried about you.” I don’t think there’s enough of us that would be prepared to do that for someone that they care about, you know? Actually sitting them down and saying, “You need to start making some positive choices, “and you need to start loving yourself.” Coming to the realisation that skinny, non-hairy men were… was not actually what I was attracted to at all, it was what society said about them, and how they looked, and how they fitted in to everything, and how everyone perceived them was what I was attracted to. And now I’ve met someone who is probably the things that I didn’t particularly like about myself when I was younger. That’s been a massive change for me. It’s that sort of thing in the last twelve months that’s kind of helped me go, “What are you worried about?”

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