I wouldn’t say I’m ugly. But I’m certainly not Instagram bathroom underwear selfie hot either. Nowhere near that, actually. I’m what people of my generation would refer to as an “Average Joe,” or as the youth of today charmingly call “Basic.” And I’m OK with my basicness. Or, I thought I was.
Being gay and being average-looking was always a struggle. I longed to be something more in the appearance department. I wished I could be the sexy lead singer of a boy band and not the one unattractive guy who made the other band members look 30 times hotter in comparison. I have never experienced being cruised, never been picked up at a bar (or rest stop), nor asked out on a date. I have always been the pursuer. The hunter. I’ve never experienced the joys of being the huntee.
It’s taken much of my life, but in last few years I’ve come to accept and embrace my plainness. I like to think I make up for this lack of eye-popping sexiness by having something of a humorous wit and sparkling personality. At least my feeble attempts at humor have always been enough to keep my easy-on-the-eyes husband interested these past 14 years. That’s all that really matters.
But last year as my husband and I began the surrogacy process, my old, banished self-consciousness bubbled horribly back up from my psyche. As my hubby and I talked about collecting our sperm to create a child I suddenly wasn’t so sure I wanted to pass along my DNA to a child.
Honestly, I just didn’t want a child of mine to suffer and struggle with body issues and inferiority complexes like I had. I wanted more for my kid.
Before you rage at me in the comments section, I will say that I realize that looks aren’t everything. For folks like me it’s a battle to remember that mantra when you’re being rejected for the three hundred millionth time. (Give or a take few hundred.) Rejection was — and still is — a daily part of my life. So I regularly remind myself that personality, heart, and a person’s soul are the true mark of a human being’s beauty, not smoldering eyes and a six-pack.
I know, the exterior is a façade; yet, the reality is that appearances do matter. As much as I wish it didn’t, as much as we preach it doesn’t, ultimately how a person looks impacts our lives deeply.
Attractive people have benefits and opportunities given them that regular folks like myself just don’t. Job opportunities, dating opportunities, free drinks at Starbucks — I’ve witnessed it firsthand. On numerous occasions. Attractive people are rarely openly dismissed outright at a moments glance. Whereas people like myself often have to fight to be noticed and welcomed.
So as my husband and I talked about the surrogacy process, I decided that I was happy to let him be the sole sperm donor. He’s a very handsome, lovely person with a fantastic personality, and his child would be gorgeous. That is, until my husband metaphorically slapped some sense into me.
He wisely argued that my DNA was far too important to the process of child-making to not be a part of the mix. Not just because he wanted me to be included in the exciting process but also just to hedge our bets. After all, there are no guarantees in surrogacy. We didn’t know if my husband had crummy spunk that wouldn’t lend itself to creating a child. We needed my baby batter to double our chances. So I relented and contributed my donation.
And funny enough, once we both fertilized the eggs we received from our donor and waited to see if any would become viable and grow into a fetus, I realized that I was being a complete and total idiot.
As much as I struggled with my appearance throughout my life, it was these very same struggles that made the person I am today. And ultimately, I like who I am. I’m not perfect, I never will be. I will never grace the cover of a magazine in nothing but a speedo and a sultry smile. But it’s my exterior shortcomings and flaws that add much-needed spice to the world.
Now that our adorable daughter is here and I look at her lovely face, I’m reminded that the world needs average people like me. If everyone in our society looked as drool-worthy as Adam Levine (or insert your male/female crush here) the world would be a very boring place. We basics add flavor the world. And, frankly, I’m happy to add my pinch of average to the delicious brew that makes up humanity.
BRIAN ANDERSEN is a writer who lives in San Francisco with his husband, his beautiful daughter, their two fat cats. He also writes his own line of indie gay superhero comics, SoSuperDuper.