I used to think it was ok to tell people that they are attractive, especially whenever I’d hear someone putting themselves down with negative comments about how they look. But, with a relatively recent incident where the result of me doing just that ended adversely and followed in the line of a few others that ended in similar ways here in the Toledo vicinity in previous years, I have questioned whether it’s ok to keep doing this.
First though, let me explain something. In a world where image is unfortunately everything nowadays, it doesn’t take long to come across someone who has been shunned in society for not looking the way society thinks they should look. I have witnessed many outright judge those who they think are too heavy or too skinny or too nerdy or “too something” that doesn’t quite fit in to some stereotypical societal norm. It’s almost as if the world keeps painting this perfect image of what someone needs to look like and if they don’t look that way, they tend to get overlooked. That’s why I have frequently let people know throughout my entire adult life that I find them attractive whenever I hear they’ve been put down or I hear them putting themselves down, because I truly believe everyone is beautiful. Sadly though, here in the Midwest, the results of me doing that haven’t been all that positive like they were when I lived on the East coast.
You see, here in the Midwest, people seem to be far more reserved, or at least the majority of those I’ve come across thus far. Conservative may be a better word. Regardless, along comes me, an openly gay, passionate and intensely spiritual individual, to an area that on some level often has felt the opposite of my personality. And what I’ve seen because of that has led to results that are on the exact other side of the spectrum from what I’ve been used to for years.
Case in point, I was out to dinner several months ago with a heterosexual individual from my addiction recovery circles who I had only recently been getting to know. During our meal, he was talking about his girlfriend and how amazing she was, how beautiful she looked, and how he didn’t even know what she saw in him. He proceeded to jokingly put himself down a little, calling himself a few of those labels I’m sure others have unfairly judged of him sometime in his past, and I stepped in. I told him I thought he was attractive and that he looked a lot like my own partner. Regrettably, I didn’t hear from him much after that and eventually got unfriended and blocked by him on Facebook. When I finally caught up with him to have a conversation about it, he told me I had made him seriously uncomfortable with my compliment and that he thought I had been hitting on him. Ironically, I hadn’t been, and when I told him that I love my partner and have been monogamous for almost seven years, he still remained uncomfortable and our conversation ended.
Up until five years ago, I was living in much more liberal areas, where complimenting someone like this would have been regularly received with a thank you, even from heterosexual individuals, both male and female. But here in the Midwest, my intentions continue to be misjudged. Yet, looking in the mirror I have to be honest with myself and know that I do still carry some addiction energy within me, where in the past I might have complimented someone in a self-seeking way, to gain something from them. These days though, that’s not the case, as my primary intention really is to uplift someone, but someone may still be feeling that energy within me. Nevertheless, I don’t want people to think I’m hitting on them nor make anyone feel uncomfortable just by saying I think they are attractive. Maybe it’s best I don’t do this behavior anymore? I’m saddened at the thought, as this world has far too many people who feel ugly by societal standards. But in God’s eyes, I truly believe we are all attractive and should be told so regularly, especially in light of how many times people get shunned over the way they look these days.
I wonder if Jesus were alive today, what He’d say to someone who was putting themselves down over the way they look? Would He let them they were attractive? Would He tell them they looked beautiful just the way they are? And would He be judged if He did? I wish I had the answers to those questions.
I’m left wondering if people judge my intentions here because I’m not conservative, because I’m gay, and because I’m so open on every aspect of my life? I’m left wondering if I should keep doing a behavior I never thought was wrong, or stop it altogether. For now, I think the best thing I can do is leave it up to God to provide me greater discernment and I pray I receive that the next time I’m with someone who finds themselves unattractive…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson