What does it feel like when you’re looking at pure hatred in the eye? What goes through your head when you’re stood there, face to face with someone that you know despises you and sees no worth in you?
What am I supposed to think when I’m stood there looking at him, right into his eyes, trying to understand where he found it inside him to hate so much?
Readers of the old London Preppy might remember this. It’s a year and half ago now, when I was still writing daily, when I came across one of the most passionate character assassinations that have ever been performed on me.
You can read about it by clicking here
What the hell, I don’t want you to tire, I’ll paste it all again here. Actually, I’ll paste his original text, without any of my comments. For the text AND the comments, fine, go ahead and click here
“I know hatred is self-destructive. I know the only person it hurts it me. Over the years I've developed a reflex action which automatically makes me stop and think: what do I gain from this? Just let them be - let go - make some changes, sure: stop spending time with them and winding yourself up. Realise that I can't fix everything in the world, accept the things which can't be changed, and focus on those things which really do deserve time and energy.
I know other people see things differently from me, deliberately work to oppose things I feel are crucially important, or even deliberately smear, taunt and inflame ignorance in order to sell newspapers - and their duckspeak becomes widely accepted as fact. I accept these things as part of this imperfect, challenging and complex world we live in.
Yet, somehow, there are some people who just itch and itch. London Preppy is one of those people. He's just a young guy with a body image problem who takes too many drugs - not that unusual in big city gay culture. I could forgive his pretentions to intellectualism (god knows I have a few myself). I could forgive his unhealthy obsession with food and judging everyone based on how they look (it's almost certainly worse for him to live it than it is for me to read about it). I could forgive his "Bret Easton Ellis" tattoo (who is of course the author of American Psycho).
What I can't forgive about his blog is the fact that, like those anorexia websites you read about, he has somehow become a locus of crystallisation for one of the most unhealthy and negative parts of gay culture. Readers are encouraged to enter his best body competition - but you and I needn't bother applying (compare last year's sycophantic winner). His blog entries are, by turns, deeply self-critical, negative and self-destructive (inviting us to write adoring comments and messages of sympathy) and gloating and proud of his gym-toned body (after which we idolise and lust after him). I'm sure hundreds of young men read his blog and find negative and irrational feelings about themselves reinforced.
The reason it affects me, of course, is because part of me agrees with everything he says. I still trek on down to the gym three or so times every week. Part of me thinks that "skinny-fat" people really only have themselves to blame. Part of me still chases after boys with v-shaped torsos and washboard stomachs and writes off those kind, thoughtful souls who don't. My eyes still linger over his pictures and the sections in which he talks about his sex life. For all of those people who have whispered in my ear exactly what they wanted to do to me, I still have no doubt that were I to meet him shirtless in a club, he'd roll his eyes and dismiss me in a flash.
Part of me, however, stands with Simon Fanshawe, who with a candid and witty twist laid it all bare. It's this part I prefer. I'm far from perfect, let me tell you. But I try and recognise that everyone has an inherent value, including myself. Some have speculated about the cause of the gym obsession in the gay community and made a connection with HIV/AIDS in the 1980s; I think for me and my generation the cause is far more likely to be deep insecurity, especially about forming and maintaining intimate relationships, a legacy of bullying and isolation at school, and a club scene where to compete for a mate you have to be practically an Olympic swimmer. Being physically perfect not only makes us sexually desirable to everyone, but also puts us on the moral high-ground.
Some of my best friends are a bit overweight. And, if I'm lucky enough to reach sixty or seventy years old without getting hit by a bus, maybe I'll rest my pint glass on my belly. But London Preppy will have to come to terms with the fact that he won't still be on the front cover of gay magazines before then. As things stand today, London Preppy has a fan club on Facebook with 212 members, and googling "London Preppy" yields nearly 10,000 hits. The world would be a much healthier place if he found value in himself and others somewhere else before that.”
The person who wrote this – it’s not so difficult to find who’s who, is it? - now goes to the same swimming pool as I do. I see him a few times a week.
The intensity of London Preppy is now definitely behind me. I don't depress myself on a daily basis trying to get into character to write the blog and I don’t make myself sick by thinking I’ll let everyone down if I don’t deliver the same self-loathing, gloomy blurb day after day.
In fact, I’m no longer London Preppy. But even so, reading his piece above again, I can’t help but think: what a fucking cunt.
Worse than Hitler? For sure. Worse than Satan? No doubt. Worse than Danyl? Hmm…yes.
WORSE THAN DANYL
There, I’ve said it and there’s no taking it back.