UPDATED: UCSB to host discussion on 'safe spaces' for 'fat, gay men'
UPDATE: This article has been updated to include comment from UCSB confirming that student fees will be used to pay for the event.
The University of California, Santa Barbara will host a book discussion next week to discuss "the anti-fat stigma that persists in American culture," specifically for "fat, gay men."
"To be fat in a thin-obsessed gay culture can be difficult."
The event, a discussion of the book "Fat, Gay Men: Mirth, Girth, and the Politics of Stigma" with author Dr. Jason Whitesel of Pace University, is being hosted by the UCSB Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity. According to the event page on Facebook, 34 of the 199 students invited have indicated that they will attend.
"To be fat in a thin-obsessed gay culture can be difficult," the Resource Center's description of the event begins. "Despite affectionate in-group monikers for big gay men—chubs, bears, cubs—the anti-fat stigma that persists in American culture at large still haunts these individuals who often exist at the margins of gay communities."
To help students learn more about the issue, Whitesel "delves into the world of Girth & Mirth, a nationally known social club dedicated to big gay men," which the description later states "has long been a refuge and ‘safe space’ for such men."
Although not a member of the group himself, Whitesel is "a partial insider as a gay man," and "offers an insider’s critique of the gay movement, questioning whether the social consequences of the failure to be height-weight proportionate should be so extreme in the gay community."
Carlos Flores, a student at UCSB, told Campus Reform that he found out about the event through a monthly email newsletter sent out by the Resource Center, and decided to call attention to it with a Facebook post captioned, "Another day, another degenerate email from the UCSB LGBT Center."
Flores said he doesn't mind the fact of the event being held, per se, but does object to the idea that his money might be used to fund it.
"As I understand it, they're using taxpayer money and my tuition dollars to talk about how to sodomize overweight men, which doesn't seem like the best use of that money," he told Campus Reform. "I don't think the university should be using my funds to hold a morally questionable event—they're free to do it, but I'd rather they spent someone else's money."
Campus Reform contacted the Resource Center to inquire into the source of funding for the event, and eventually received a response from Dean of Students Kim Equinoa, who asserted that funding for the event "comes from student lock-in fees that are voted on/reaffirmed by the student body every four years."
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