Out.com is proud to present the wacky and wild (and absolutely truealthough some names have been changed to protect the guilty) adventures of a 30-year-old guy in Hollywood who just wants to lose a few (dozen) pounds. And find eternal happiness and fulfillment. Is that too much to ask? Part Twenty-three: Talking Back! I recently saw the new movie Rent. As the lights came up, I sat in my chair sobbing. I had never seen the stage version and was blown away at what I had just seen on the screen. Such a pure vision of what it means to love unabashedly and unconditionally. A reminder that life is not about how much money you make, the kind of car you drive, or how many rooms are in your home, but your capacity to give and receive love. After the screening, a nice gentleman named Mark came up to me and introduced himself. He recognized me from my column and effusively thanked me for writing it, even wishing I wrote it more often. There is no greater feeling than sharing yourself and having people respond positively. The antithesis of that feeling is when you share yourself and someone tears you down. The following morning, I logged onto Out.com to find the below comment from someone named Jason in response to my last column (where I went on a date that went well, only to have the guy disappear after having sex with his coworker). Please stop whining. Take a good look at yourself. Youre fat and youre gaythose two just dont go together. Enough about self-esteem etclose the weight and youll get guys like Jeff. Why? Because thats the way it is. AND your dressing is not exactly wonderfuldo something about that. Its been a year and youre still packing so much weight. Too many excuses and too much food. Instead of complaining about the guys you want, make yourself into the guy they would want. I read your essays all the time but theyre just filled with self-pity disguised as humor. Its wearing thin. The way you should be by now. Madonna once said in an interview that there could be 100 people in a room and 99 of them can love what you have done, but the one who hated it is the one you will always remember. At first, after reading it, I just felt hurt (as I am prone to do) and contemplated eating myself into a coma. Instead, I gave the comments another read. Whining? Whining would be me wallowing in a delusion that I am wonderful and questioning why Jeff wouldnt want to choose me. Whining would be sitting at home eating a pint of Ben and Jerrys and complaining about being fat. Theres a difference between whining and sharing my stories. What I want to understand is why Jeff is off the hook for how he treated me. Yes, he had a great-looking face and beautiful eyes, but he was height and weight proportionate, not sculpted from steel. It wasnt about him not liking me, it was about him saying one thing and doing another. Fat or even a bad dresser, I deserve the respect of a call or e-mail saying Sorry, were just not a match instead of silence that clouds my mind with voices causing me to believe everything is wrong with me. I can tell you right now: Absolutely nothing is wrong with me. I dont care if I never lose another pound or I have to wear a gunnysack to the office, no one has the right to make me feel less than. If you read any of my personal ads, they are me. I dont hide behind fuzzy, cropped photos or images from 1995. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I say who I am, girth and all. He knew what he was getting into before I walked into that Starbucks, and he didnt flinch when I did. He sought me out online and was the one who asked me to the follow-up dinner. Nevertheless, why am I supposed to take the hit for being fat and a bad dresser while he gets to disappear in Cyberland and not have the decency to return a phone call or e-mail to say he isnt interested. Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo have a best-selling book called Hes Just Not That Into You. Im aware of the signs, but if this guy is so great, shouldnt he be man enough to tell me to my face? Jason also tells me that being gay and fat dont mix. I get that there is a truth in that, but its said almost with a sense of smugness. As if to just say Thats just how it is, so if you are fat, you may as well kill yourself or go back to dating women because you arent welcome to play our reindeer games. Its this kind of attitude that causes many of us to eat and fill our insecurities until we lose all control of who we are. How about instead of writing someone off just because they are fat, you take the time to get to know them? Remember, weight can be lost, but an ugly attitude cant. Believe me, I did have a vision last January that my weight loss would turn out like the montage in Ruthless People. Bette Midler gets on a broken bicycle in the basement where shes being held hostage and by the end of a Mick Jagger song, she is transformed into a size 2. But alas, a fantasy is exactly all that is. Yes, I could have been more diligent this year and taken off more of my weight, but a thin version of last years self wouldnt be any more confident or put-together than I am today. And, Jason, you might be tired of hearing about my newfound self-respect, but I have done way too much digging to find it this year to not shine light on it. At 240 pounds, I am on par with Kirstie Alleys current 55-pound weight loss and she had a two-month head start. Shes being praised all over town for her accomplishment and even got to go on Oprah and dance about it. But in Gayville, I am still fat and told that I am unwanted. Imagine what that does to my psyche. When I returned from Italy over the summer, I had a comment from a Glennbe, who called me a narcissist and insecure in the same sentence. Its a column about my journey, so of course it is going to be about me. It is not as though its a column about shoes into which I somehow weave a story about how good they look on my feet. And insecure? You have no idea. If I didnt have these insecurities, there wouldnt be much of a journey through self-discovery to go through, would there? But isnt an insecure narcissist an oxymoron? Either way, I want to embrace all parts of me, the self-involved and the insecure, so that at the end of the day, I am not hiding behind either. I view myself as an interesting person who is flawed. We should all be so lucky to embrace ourselves this way. Nevertheless, on the flipside of those ready to judge and critique are the compliments that have filled my inbox. Kelly, who has thanked me for inspiring him to lose 45 pounds in spite of a job that kept him traveling all year because he was able to log on and remember hes not alone. Bill, who thanked me for sharing my stories so he could share them with his boyfriend who was feeling hopeless and alone after putting on all of his post-honeymoon weight. Then there is a 23-year-old named Adam (not my surfing partner) who contacted me through my Web site and asked, Why is it that you can give someone a compliment and yet they cant even say thank you? I understand if they dont think Im cute or anything, Im not going to get hurt if they dont want me, but they can at least say THANK YOU! I read his blogs and his self-esteem is so sadly low, all based on men rejecting him. It saddens me to think his journey will be rooted in rejection and often without the courtesy of Im just not that into you. I want to express my thanks to everyone who has witnessed my progress, my setbacks, and my adventures of the last year. I have nothing but gratitude for everyone who has taken the time to read and respond, even the Jasons and Glennbes who told me things I didnt want to hear, but needed to hear, even if sometimes it was just to measure how far Ive come along. This is the most appropriate time of year to take stock in your own accomplishments and your value as a person. As the soundtrack from Rent asks, How do you measure a year?