A gay man has gone viral after he attended Manchester Pride wearing a crop top and proudly showing off his ileostomy bag.
Kevin Robinson has Crohn’s disease and had his large intestine and anus surgically removed in 2015 as a result. Today, he carries an ileostomy bag with him everywhere he goes.
Robinson was looking for an outfit to wear to Pride and wanted to wear a crop top to the event – but initially had doubts because of his ileostomy bag.
It was then that he mentioned the idea to his husband, Aaron.
Kevin Robinson’s husband gave him the confidence to show his ileostomy bag at Manchester Pride
“He was really sure straight away that I really had to buy it,” Robinson told PinkNews. “There was no doubt at all, and he told me that not only would I look OK in it, I’d look even better than usual. He really gave me the confidence that I can look fabulous wearing whatever I want to wear.”
Robinson later shared a photo of himself at Manchester Pride on Saturday, August 24, wearing the crop top, with his ileostomy bag clearly on display. The tweet has since gone viral.
I didn’t intend for it to reach people outside of my friendship group, but I’m pleased that it has if it can help reduce stigma, or give people confidence that the stigma isn’t there.
“The reaction to my tweet has been genuinely overwhelming and humbling,” he said. “From peers in the LGBT+ community, to people saying they respect my decision, those with similar conditions, or those treating them… it’s been humbling to hear that a simple photo has touched people.
“I didn’t intend for it to reach people outside of my friendship group, but I’m pleased that it has if it can help reduce stigma, or give people confidence that the stigma isn’t there.”
Intense focus on body image within gay community heightened Robinson’s insecurity.
Part of the reason Robinson was afraid of wearing something like a crop top in public was because of the intense focus on body image within the gay community. He says the community is “fantastic” and “super supportive” but there can be pressure to look a certain way.
“We all engage with the LGBT+ community hoping for validation that we are amazing even though there are things that make us different,” Robinson said.
“Those who stand out most in the community are often those who make the most effort to look incredible all the time. The LGBT+ community is great but we can still do more to make everyone feel 100 percent comfortable in who they are all the time.”
Robinson is hopeful that his photo might help generate awareness and reduce stigma for people with ileostomy bags.
“Every positive reaction somebody has given me that little bit more confidence. People might not realise that just a smile, or a ‘like’ or a simple nice comment can have a really big impact.”