I’ve written a book about obesity and weight loss that is actually a book about coping with any great change. While I was putting all of my time and energy in to losing weight and regaining health I had done little to prepare for the life I would have to start living once I got out from under 460 pounds.
When I started writing Fat Man Walking I was uncertain my bisexuality was something I would include. After all, this isn’t a biography of my life – just a glimpse into this one particular journey. Ultimately I decided not including it would be disingenuous at best, or worse be misconstrued as shame. I wasn’t having either so I wrote a small section in a chapter called “An Honest Life” and it really does explain my take on the whole thing.
In the book I talk about my first same-sex relationship when I was 18 and the decade of confusion that followed. I want to be really clear – I didn’t weigh 460 pounds because I had a boyfriend at 18, or because I am attracted to men and women, or because I was having some kind of sexual identity crisis.
The connection between the two is pretty simple actually. I had lived one honest life up until that relationship, and the moment it got serious (or as serious as any relationship does at 18) I splintered my life off in to two directions. Some of my friends and family knew the guy I was with, and some had even met him but most didn’t. When that relationship ended and I came back to Cape Breton I wasn’t prepared to wear a label of any kind – not because I was afraid or was politically rejecting labels, but because I didn’t know what label to wear. Like many people at that age, I was confused about it all. My closest friends knew I was bi and we talked about it openly, but we also talked about how confused I was about it all. And frankly, I wasn’t in a rush to figure it out.
The thing about being a bisexual man is that no one believes you. Women are suspicious that you’re actually gay, and men think you’re just too scared to admit that you’re actually gay – and my arguments against either were weak at that age because I didn’t really know what the hell I was.
Over the years confusion leads to clarity and I’ve long since come to accept my bisexuality as a perfect fit for me. I’m happy to know that my heart is big enough to accept love as it comes into my life and not let it pass me by simply because it showed up in a gender I wasn’t expecting. As I say in the book, the laundry list of things I look for in a person is a mile long, gender just doesn’t happen to be one of them.
I don’t mean to seem flippant about this. It’s strange for me talk and write so openly about this today. It’s been years since I’ve embraced it but have never really talked about it. I’ve openly supported LGBT efforts and have spoken about same-sex marriage many times – including on talk shows I used to host, but I did it under the guise of an ally of the community and not as a member.
But I’m a loud guy in every other part of my life. Why so quiet about this? Frankly, my belief has been that whenever I met a girl or a guy worth bragging about, everyone would know but until that point, it didn’t seem like the sort of thing I had to make an issue of. In many ways the life of the bisexual is the life of a single guy because the minute you’re in a relationship you land a new perceived label. You’re with a woman – you’re straight. You’re with a man – you’re gay. While that’s not true, and belittles bisexuality as an orientation of its own – functionally, it’s how it’s seen. So why challenge that? I felt I had enough to do.
As the pounds came off me I was spending more and more time working on the underlying causes of my obesity. Why was I disconnected? Why I was I settling for so little? Why was I expecting so little of myself?
One day while hiking up Coxheath Mountain my thoughts were running faster than I was and a phrase popped into my head. The First Lie.
That’s when I decided I had to write about this. To me – that first same-sex relationship represents the first lie. When I splintered my life in to those who knew about him and those who didn’t – I spent the next ten years living two different lives to different sets of people – and in close quarters. My mother knew, my father didn’t. My best friend knew, my brother didn’t. I never gave myself a chance to grow and develop in a healthy way. I was growing off in two completely different directions and just keeping up appearances in both. I was trying to remember who knew and who didn’t, and always getting slightly nervous when people who knew and people who didn’t would land in the same room. When I landed in a relationship I had to decide whether or not to be honest with them, and I’m ashamed to admit I often didn’t tell them if they didn’t already know.
So that was the first lie. And over the years many other lies got thrown in there with it. Six years of morning radio and I never accidentally said “my ex-boyfriend” once. Or when a female co-host was talking about how hot some male celebrity was I never once accidentally agreed. It takes a lot of energy to live like that. No one made live that way but me, and the cost was high.
Why work so hard to change your life and then still live it such a shitty way? I deserve better for myself, and these days I’m thankful to enjoy the freedom that comes with living one honest life. No matter what room I’m in – no matter who is around – I get to be exactly who I am…a constant work in a progress.