This is the second instalment of the five part series on the fabulous PTS discussion and support groups.
I showed up early and helped one of the facilitators set up the chairs. Slowly people started filtering in until we had a group of about ten or twelve. First the facilitators read out PTS’s standard Safe Space rules, and with good reason: the room was a diverse collection of ages, races and genders, and making sure the room remained a safe space for all attending was a priority.
The topic tonight: body image and how it interacts with sexuality—particularly bi or pansexuality. One of the facilitators started discussion off with a pseudo-monologue based on research they’d done over the past week. They discussed how queer men and straight women have different ideas about what is attractive in men, as do queer women and straight men for women. This presents a unique issue for bi and pansexual people, as they try to be seen as attractive by people of multiple genders.
We went into how this issue compounds with other reasons for poor body image and self-esteem, and how people of all races, sexes, genders, shapes and sizes have different body image issues for different reasons. We discussed how the way that our body images are validated has changed throughout time from being healthy to being seen as attractive, and how being interested in groups with such different standards of beauty further complicates the issue.
Then we went to break. I sang a song.
When we reconvened, we started talking about how perceptions of beauty, while generally varying from group to group, also vary from person to person. We often apply our own visions of beauty to couples and perceive them as mismatched. We think “what the fuck is she doing with her?” or “he could do so much better.” We often refer to it as “leagues.”
For example, every woman on Earth is apparently out of my league. #foreveralone.
We apply our own standards of beauty to other people, when in reality what we think of as attractive really means nothing to anyone besides ourselves and our partners. It’s actually rather egocentric, but in a very sneaky way that no one really notices. All that truly matters is that they find each other attractive, and that they are happy with each other.
Then we kind of spiraled off topic a bit, as such groups are wont to do. Two topics resonated with me. One was to do with age difference in relationships; it’s less the actual age, and more the differences in life experience and headspace. Because of those age-related differences, what the two people are looking for is frequently not the same thing.
The second topic was about non-physical aspects of attraction; appearance is only half of the package. People often don’t put enough emphasis on what can happen the moment you open your mouth—you can either talk your way anywhere or completely fuck things sideways within about thirty seconds. What’s chilling out in the space between your ears means a lot to a lot of people.
All in all, this is my favourite group that I am eligible to attend. I might be a little prejudice because Biamore caters specifically to my sexual orientation, but I found the group inclusive and filled with a broad array of perspectives. I plan on being a regular attendant from here on in.
–Riley Evans, head writer/moderator of Queerism