Notes on Pride

Fat Divinity: Caleb Luna's "Jock Straps and Crop Tops"

June 6, 2021
Provincetown 2018. House out 👯‍♀️. Asses Out 🍑 . Our PTown crew, which I jokingly called the Haus of X-tra 🌈, agreed beforehand that the 10 of us would attend the weekly Purgatory Saturday night undie party in uniform (high tops, underwear/jockstraps and harnesses only...the holy, queer regalia). That night I stood in the coat check at Purgatory, staring at the brown, paper, grocery store bag designated for my clothes, personal effects, and hesitant feelings. I often joke, in Southern euphemism, that when something is too tight or too revealing that “Heaven and Earth would be filled with my glory.” As I stood there thinking about all of the ways I was trying to police myself and delimit my own body from spilling forth, I said to myself, why not let them have it? Why not fill the room? I thought about all the effort I had put into finding my outfit; getting the harness, hunting for a cute jockstrap that fit, lotioning my legs for the gods. Damnit the club was gonna see this ass! So, I politely gave my stuff to the coat check and left my brown paper bag of clothes and ugly feelings at the literal door. And that night, in the brightness of the dance floor and the embrace of my friends, heaven and earth may not have filled with my glory, but Purgatory certainly was . 🥂

"It is this divinity that I have come to understand my aesthetic of sleeveless and cropped tops, shirts so tight that sometimes my belly hangs out below, shirt shorts and tight pants, but hair, visible tattoos, and facial piercings to hold: a divinity made possible by a queer relationship to my own fat embodiment. That allowed me to transcend the possibilities fat bodies have been offered, and encouraged me to incorporate my body and its intimidating and uncomfortable size into a queer aesthetic that challenged dominant notions of normativity, shame, modesty, and respectability" (Luna, 2021, p. 40)
"Clothing that makes a fat body fatter (or simply unashamed), that breaks gendered and sexual norms, that signals queerness and so on, comes with its own risks. And sometimes we risk it. Sometimes we make our own possibilities" (Luna, 2021, p. 40)
“Emboldened by our divinities, fat queers have the freedom to play, resist, and fuck with colonial, raced, classed, and gendered norms that tell us to shrink, to be small, to be quiet, to not draw attention to ourselves. Each time our bodies spill out of rips and tears, under crop tops, tight clothing stretched desperately across the expanses of our bellies or thighs, caught in between our rolls, or we style our cellulite as accessory, we perform ruptures to the heteronormative, fatphobic conceptions of what we can and should be and do. Queerness calls us to brandish our boldness on our bodies. It hails us to an embodied resistance to beauty standards that rely on whiteness, light, skin, thinness, muscularity, masculinity, able-bodiedness, an absence of scars and blemishes, the right amount of body hair, and so on. Queerness says fuck that, and while we’re at it fuck you. Fatness reminds us that we don’t exist for you, and neither do these bodies. Fat queerness says we’re disturbing to you because you need to be disturbed" (Luna, 2021, p.40-41)
“After the party that opened this essay, I ordered McDonald’s. I came home and took off my high-waisted shorts, under which I was wearing a jockstrap (you, know just in case) and are my burger in nothing but a crop top—but not before sending an outfit pic to my besties, adding the text, “ I have reached my final form.” The divine, indeed" (Luna, 2021. p.41)

Fat queers are disciplined to apologize both verbally but also gesturally and performatively. Beyond chanting a mantra of apologies every time we squeeze through throngs of shirtless bodies on a crowded dancefloor, how we style our bodies before entering the club already performs a sartorial apology. I am sorry for the rolls. Please accept these loose fitting jeans. Forgive the back fat. Please let me cover it up with this baggy T shirt. Caleb Luna’s “Jockstraps and Croptops” (like most of their work) shakes me to my core because it reminds me that my body is not an apology, rather it is a love letter to the world outside of the narrow aesthetic limits of gay nightlife. And every time I apologize explicitly (saying sorry for taking up too much space) or implicitly (sorry for the thickness I’ll wear an oversized shirt) I also participate in my own oppression. Luna reminds us of the pleasures of unapologeticness. That if queerness is a fuck you to the disciplining regimes of normativity then any apology for corpulence, for excesses of the flesh or style are not only counterproductive but complicit in reifying the logics of anti fatness. Luna teaches about the pleasures of fat, queer aesthetic excess. They instruct us to consider our bodies in any outfit as divine. And may we smite anyone who makes us feel otherwise. ⚡️