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"Once you do that, you take the power away from somebody else.Now, it's not the elephant in the room anymore." Colón said that his confidence with being his own weight has put him in a position to be a lot of people's "first fat experience." And, it also attracts a lot of what men of size would call "chubby chasers." As long as they're respectful, Colón is a fan.

But during his single years, the bars were often unwelcoming to people of his size, he said."I had to disidentify myself with white culture, gay culture and cultures of acceptable bodies," Gabe told "And, you know, that's a fucking ton of work." As a queer brown boy, Gabe didn't see anybody on TV, on newsstands or elsewhere who acted as a model for him. Gabe told me that his therapist once said that eventually someone would say it, but Gabe didn't believe him. The first time someone told Gabe he was the sexiest man in the room, he was in a gay bar in Michigan.The first time he saw someone living a life that he hoped to live one day was in a church youth group he attended. He was stunned."I hated that I was so shocked by that," he said.Gabe, a Wisconsin resident and Midwesterner since birth, said growing up and entering the gay community meant learning quickly that there are schema for acceptable, normal bodies: the cis hairless twink, the sorta-hairy hunk or the gym bunny.And, growing into his gay identity has meant refusing to hold standards put upon him by his own community. " Even more surprising to Gabe than finding a role model was the first time someone called him sexy."I walk into these clubs with that mentality, like ' I'm here to have fun.'"Samuel Colón told me that he was able to be confident about his own body when he first went out into a mainstream gay space. He learned about his body as a straight man: He dated women until he was 21.According to Colón, living as straight let him operate without any problems with his weight."When you date girls, it's not such a hang-up to be overweight," Colón told In fact, Colón was surprised the first time he stepped foot into a mainstream white gay bar.There was a pervading culture of slim body worship that turned him off.Diaz also said he's found refuge in the bear scene.But when he does enter mainstream spaces, he often has to arm himself with his own personal mantra."When I go back to bars on the west side in midtown [Manhattan], where I've felt uncomfortable, in my head, I have to say to myself, ' You're loved, you have an awesome partner, you have great friends, you're good,'" he said.

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