Living OUT Leadership Interview Series

Jeffry Iovannone

Jeff Iovannone is an activist-scholar, writer, educator, and researcher from Buffalo, New York who holds a Ph.D. in American Studies and specializes in gender and LGBTQ studies. He is the creator of the blog, Queer History for the People, a columnist for Th-Ink Queerly, a member of the Buffalo-Niagara LGBTQ History Project, and is a founding member of Body Liberated Buffalo, a volunteer-run activist and advocacy group that works for body liberation in Western New York.

In this episode, we discuss the multitude of issues that create the “problem” of the idealized, perfect gay male body, and the affects of masculinity, toxic masculinity, capitalism, sex, and diet culture for many gay men.

Snippets of insight from Jeff in this episode:

“A preference is never just a preference. It is always political. Replace the term preference with a politics of desirability. Who and what we desire is not individual, is not solely personal, is not neutral, but is shaped by the context in which we live and therefore it has political implications. It is enacting and reinforcing larger systems of power and oppression.”

“Research has shown that use of apps (like Grindr or Scruff) changes our neurobiology and predisposes us to objectify each other – particularly sexually objectify each other – and that has real-world consequences. The images and representations that people post online (shirtless selfies; workout selfies) are not merely representing reality, they’re actively constructing reality. They are teaching us to think about the world and other people in a particular way. They are creating what the norm is.”

“If we’re choosing our leadership or only representing perspectives of a select few, more often than not that select group is going to frame the issues and do the work in terms of what most relates to their experience and the way that they see the world. If we’re defining representation and leadership on the basis of physical appearance that limits our political efficacy as a community; our ability to create change within politics and society because we don’t have multiple perspectives to draw from and therefore we have fewer tools to create change.”

“When we’re talking about mainstream gay male culture and diet culture, they don’t just overlap or intersect, they are in fact one and the same.”

Enjoy this deep-dive conversation into one of the more complex, yet interesting challenges that affect not only gay men but also the future of LGBTQ activism.

Articles by Jeffry Iovannone:

Further reference

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