I just finished Fat Gay Men: Girth, Mirth, and the the Politics of Stigma, a compelling examination of those doubly marginalized by both body size and sexual identity.
Jason Whitsel proves himself to be a devoted ethnographer, attending over a hundred events of a local Girth & Mirth Club, and immersing himself in their culture for over two years.
(This reader will admit that his full participation in their "Super Weekend," a yearly high-camp and sexualized getaway at a Southwestern gay resort, made for an particularly delightful read!)
Further discussions on the intersections of race and other oppressed identities are absent, and the writing does tend towards the academic; however, these narratives are a welcome change from the usual stereotypes of gay desirability and fat invisibility.
Allow me to share a particularly interesting passage from his conclusion:
This ethnography of Girth & Mirth culture provides a smorgasbord of strategies for dealing with the shame of fat stigma. Despite their unfortunate tendency to internalize shame and allow it to run their lives, big men continue to find more productive outlets, such as sexual objectification, status differentiation, and celebrating otherness. One of my personal favorites is campy-queer performances that utterly disregard shame, playfully acknowledging one's size in relation to one's sexuality.
What a burden it is to be stigmatized, and what an admirable feat to perform one's way out of the isolation of being stigmatized. Undoubtedly, the road to acceptance appears paved with something more than simply managing stigma: it requires an unforgettable performance.
I discovered this book after reading Looking Queer: Body Image in Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender Communities, an anthology edited by Dawn Atkins, which consists of research, first-hand accounts, poetry, theory, and journalistic essays concerning the LGBT community's struggle with eating disorders and appearance obsession.
I greatly appreciated this multi-layered look at body issues based on gender, race, class, age, and disability. However, this book was published in 1998 (!!!), and I have been on the lookout for modern updates on these themes.