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Do gay men hate fat people?

Study finds over one third of gay men directly experiencing antifat bias.

Anecdotes about fat-shaming within the gay community abound (for example, check THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS and THIS). But now – after noting that “no studies have examined this issue empirically even though popular culture suggests that weight-based prejudice is especially common among gay men” – a study published in the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity scientifically suggested that antifat bias is a “challenge for many members of the gay community, even those who are not technically overweight”.

For “Fat Chance! Experiences and Expectations of Antifat Bias in the Gay Male Community”, Olivia Foster-Gimbel and Renee Engeln conducted two studies exploring antifat bias among gay men.

The first study – which explored experiences of antifat bias among gay men and the body image correlates of these experience – involved 215 participants (gay men aged from 18 to 78), who completed measures of antifat bias, body image disturbance, and open-ended questions about their experience with antifat bias. The study found that over one third of gay men (many of whom were not overweight using common body mass index [BMI] guidelines) reported directly experiencing antifat bias.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the most common type of antifat bias reported was rejection by potential romantic partners on the basis of weight. The antifat bias experienced and witnessed was associated with several types of body image disturbance.

The second study – a follow-up to the first – compared gay and heterosexual college men’s expectations of antifat bias from a potential romantic partner. Participants rated how likely certain outcomes would be if they saw an overweight man hit on an attractive target (a man for gay participants or a woman for heterosexual participants). Not surprisingly – though no less disappointing – gay men reported greater likelihood that the overweight man would be blatantly ignored, treated rudely, or mocked behind his back if he approached an attractive potential romantic partner.

As if the antifat bias isn’t bad enough, gay men also reportedly expect other gay men to show these antifat biases when looking for a romantic partner.

And so the problem of internally promoting hatred is emphasized in a community proudly claiming to celebrate diversity…

LGBT gatherings highlight the diversity of the community, though also showcase how this very diversity actually reflects the lack of acceptance from within the community.
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