Eric Dorsa hopes that sharing his struggles with an eating disorder will shed light on what he sees as an often-overlooked issue in the gay community.
As seen in the above video, the 27-year-old opened up about his battle with anorexia nervosa as part of the first-ever Eating Recovery Day, which was coordinated by the Eating Recovery Center in New York on May 3. Dorsa told The Huffington Post that he believes gay men are particularly susceptible to eating disorders because of "shame and fear of rejection" that is perpetuated by how the community is often portrayed in advertising and popular culture.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, gay men comprise 42 percent of all men who have eating disorders. In addition, gay men were seven times more likely to report binging, and 12 times more likely to report purging, than heterosexual men.
"Ultimately, the eating disorder is a way of coping with the shame and coping with not being accepted and not knowing how to accept ourselves," said Dorsa, who hails from San Antonio, Texas. "Acceptance is not something that we are taught, rather it is something that we have to learn on our own."
Dorsa said he first recognized that he was anorexic at age 12, and although he was hospitalized because of heart failure that same year, he did not seek treatment for his eating disorder until he was 17.
Now, however, he says he is on a "continuous journey" of acceptance.
"For me, accepting recovery and accepting my sexuality go hand in hand," Dorsa said. Still, he added, "I do not believe that eating disorders and sexuality are linked; I believe that eating disorders and shame are linked."
Dorsa hopes that those who are battling an eating disorder themselves see that "recovery is possible" from his story.
"You are worth it," he said. "There is nothing you have to do to earn it."