Flashback: My biggest fan (literally) — Nov. 30, 2001

18 Jan

I met a client who became one of the most popular recurring characters in the original Devon’s Diary just over a week after after launching the blog. His willingness to let me write about him over the years — as well as post pictures of the two of us together that obscured his face — kicked off many discussions about gay men and body-image issues. (In my view, they were much more interesting and substantive than the treatment gay magazines and blogs give the topic.) The entries about my biggest fan also reassured many prospective clients that they were truly welcome regardless of their shape or size and that my body was not a critique of theirs.

When I asked my biggest fan if it was alright to post the photo-painting below, he hesitated before agreeing because he was a bit self-conscious of how small he looks in the pictures. Nowadays, he says, there’s no way my little IKEA bed we used to frolic on could support his weight.

When I was admitted to the loony bin for a few weeks’ stabilization and observation in July 2004, it was my biggest fan who called my parents to let them know where I was. — Devon Britt-Darby

Had a very interesting client tonight who gave me permission to write about him. He’s what’s known as a gainer — someone who is literally turned on by gaining as much weight as they can.

Reliable Narratives, Weighty Issues, 2010. Enamel, iron-on inkjet photo transfer and acrylic gloss medium on canvas.

He used to be quite athletic, and though he weights 380 pounds now, somehow you can tell. There’s still some kind of underlying physical strength beneath his layers of fat. He used to play rugby and actually knew Mark Bingham, the gay rugby player who helped foil the terrorists on Flight 93. Says that heroic act was totally within his character, which is what you read in the papers.

He wanted to hire me to enjoy the contrast between his huge, flabby body and my lean, muscly one. He was genuinely turned on by my body and also genuinely turned on by his own, and it was a turn-on to be part of his experience. Plus needless to say I was flexing all over the place so I was happy as a clam. He was surprised I wasn’t freaked out or put off by his fetish, but I don’t see it as being much different from mine: we’re both interested in altering our bodies; in fact we both want to get bigger, just in different ways and to different degrees. I’m obsessed with not adding body fat as I get bigger, which makes it much slower going. My little kink is probably more benign in terms of the health consequences, but he does have his limits. He showed me a picture of a 530 pound guy and indicated that he thought that would be a good limit for him. I asked if he’d ever had fantasies of being immobilized and he said it would probably nice for a week but beyond that there were too many practical issues to worry about. He’s very successful in his profession and had an amazing house, so he’s got too much to lose not to be deferential to reality.

But the main thing is, I can identify with the shame and secrecy around one’s passion — I’m actually talking about something narrower, more tightly focused, than one’s sexual orientation, yet somehow intricately connected with it — followed by the sense of liberation after having decided finally to do something about it. Sexual healing of one sort or other has been a frequently articulated motif among many of my clients lately. Maybe they sense that I’ve been doing some of that myself.

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