Simon Doonan, the Barney New York creative ambassador-at-large known for his edgy window dressing and his humorous fashion columns, has tackled a different topic: food. His most recent book, Gay Men Don’t Get Fat, divides food into two basic groups: gay and straight. Straight food is protein-laden, fat, gray, and fried. Black Angus Meatloaf, Doonan says, is the “Burt Reynolds of foods.” Gay food, on the other hand, is healthier, lighter, more focused on greens and baked foods, and — perhaps most indicative of Doonan’s fashion background — provides a presentation pleasing to the eye.
While Gay Men Don’t Get Fat (Blue Rider Press, $24.95) is targeted towards a female audience, Doonan isn’t afraid to point at the eating habits of heterosexual men. “I have a lot of straight friends,” he told the New York Times. “And a lot of them are a very different shape. The word ‘burly’ springs to mind. And that’s a function of eating too many meatloafs, too many steaks, too many jumbo burritos.”
The gay obsession with health, fitness, and physical attractiveness can be traced back to the gay muscle subculture of the 1970s. Organic food retailers such as Whole Foods have long been a staple at gay pride parades. Gay men are more likely to suffer from eating disorders compared to their heterosexual counterparts. A UK study on body image and gay men even indicated that 48% of participants would give up a year of their lives if they could have the perfect body.
Although Doonan’s book is laced with the usual cheeky style that defines his columns for Slate Magazine and The New York Observer, he also provides realistic diet advice for his gay brethren. For his readers, regardless of gender and sexuality, Doonan ultimately acknowledges that balance is key — eating a balance of gay and straight foods—“bisexual eating” as New York Times’ Jeff Gordinier described it—is more realistic than exclusively eating gay foods or straight foods. “Gay men don’t stay trim because they only eat gay food. I don’t live on macaroons and lettuce,” Doonan said.
Q: What ratio of gay food to straight food is best?
Simon Doonan: I believe in 50/50. For every big fat gay steak, there must be a fluffy nelly salad.
Q: Can gay food be “reformed” by battering and frying it?
Doonan: Absolutely!! If you deep fry one of those delicate tangerine macaroons, it is the equivalent of giving it a sex-change.
Q: Do you anticipate Republican presidential candidates taking an oath that they will never eat gay food?
Doonan: The all looks so nervous every time the word “gay” comes up that you start to wonder why it’s such a hot button. They need to eat more Arugula and less Velveta.