Today’s story is by Rev. Jason Lydon, Affiliate Community Minister of the Community Church of Boston. He is a graduate of the Episcopal Divinity School, where his primary focus was on abolition theology, anti-racism, and queer liberation. Through his work with Black and Pink, Jason spends his time providing support and advocacy for queer and transgender people in the prison system.
My body belongs to me. Even when I am feeling angry with my body or wish it looked/felt/moved differently, it still belongs to me. As a white man I have watched people with bodies similar to mine exert privilege and domination over the world. I have come to understand my body as a tool that holds privileges whether I choose to recognize them or not. Yet the privileges I experience do not keep me from those moments of body shame and disappointment.
Being a queer man, I feel wrapped up in a gay cultural obsession with fitness, six-pack abs, large penises, and fad diets. Magazines, outreach materials, and alcohol advertisements bombard us with images of the “ideal” gay man’s body. It is a constant struggle to remind myself to love my hairy, bald, thick body. Yet there are those days when I feel fabulous about my body. When I look at the tattoos I’ve decorated my body with I remember the radical politics I express to the world with the ink I invite people to read. When I feel my legs as I ride my bicycle I remember that my body is strong and can take me to the places I need it to. When I look at the wrinkles beginning to show up on my face I think about all the times I have smiled so big and laughed so hard that the muscles in my face ached.
Creating a healthy body image for me includes celebrating my body and recognizing the societal privileges I benefit from. This means I use my body to engage the world with intention. Honoring my body and the bodies of other people means working to create a more just world where all bodies are invited to take up the space they need and have access to the resources that allow bodies to flourish. Body image is not something we create alone and I feel blessed to be in communities committed to nurturing all bodies. While my body belongs to me, it is in relationships with others that I use my body in ways that fill me with joy, pleasure, strength, and justice.
– Rev. Jason M. Lydon, Boston, MA
Community Minister, Unitarian Universalist