Gay Gym Vintage Workout

I am so tired of worrying about my body. I am tired of thinking how it looks to others, whether it’s toned enough, big enough, smooth enough. Whether my pecs are even, whether my ass is perky or whether or not you can see my six-pack. Come to think of it, I’m also tired of hearing about your body. I’m tired of seeing pictures of your meal preparation, updates about your weight gain or your weight loss, reflections of your rippling back in gym mirrors. I’m tired of your mini-essays about “achieving your goals” and “how far you’ve come in the last five years”. I’m tired of the gay obsession with body image.

This homo-focus on body image is not for me. While others are happy to count their calories and pre-cook their meals a week in advance, I would rather eat out at a nice restaurant, do Pilates, spend time with my mates at the pub or learn a new skill, like French or First Aid.

I’m not sure what it’s like within your gay community but where I live this body obsession seems to have reached a new level of absurdity. This is particularly evident in the lead up to events like Mardi Gras where guys will devote all their spare time and mental energy to a strict health regime in order to look good for one weekend three months in the future.  And for what? To get laid? So that they can be ogled at by other men while they dance shirtless? I wonder what happens after Mardi Gras when they’ve had plenty of sex but they’re still alone.

The pursuit of body perfection is a symptom of the gay sickness that is instant gratification. Sex is so readily available to gay men that they obsess over ways to look more attractive than their competition all in a bid to get laid. They go to extremes such as injecting illegal and harmful substances into their bodies in order to look bigger, hoping that when their body is perfect then they’ll finally be seen as attractive in the eyes of others. But working on your outer appearance will not lead to happiness. After all the sex, gay men, just like the rest of humanity want to be loved. The problem though is that you cannot create meaningful relationships while you’re only focused on the superficial.

Sustainable relationships are not built on sexual attraction only. There are much more important things that create longevity in a relationship. What happens if your partner becomes ill? What happens if they get cancer and their body withers away? What happens when you’re older and your body isn’t as toned as it once was? What happens to your relationship then? What happens when you stop taking steroids and you become fat? How long will your partner stick around then? When I’m 85 and I’m old and grey, sitting in a nursing home in adult diapers, I want to be next to my partner and I want to be able to laugh at the situation with him. Humor, love, respect, friendship – these are the things that last when the rest of you fades away. I want a man who is more than his body.

Recently I was at a gay venue with friends and as I looked around I noticed that everyone was starting to look the same. There were hundreds of men but they all looked like carbon cutouts of each other, albeit of varying heights. They were all similarly dressed and had obviously spent a substantial amount of time in the gym. Seeing these men made me realize how unfortunate it is that gay culture holds up one body type as the ideal and as a result everyone else feels obliged to meet that standard. Sure women have been suffering the same fate for centuries but at least there have been vocal opponents to the generalization of the female body image. Where are the vocal opponents to the gay male image? Young gay men trawl the Instagram profiles and Facebook pages of older gay men (many of whom are using steroids) and feel that this is what it means to be gay. When they can’t meet these unrealistic and unhealthy expectations they feel unattractive and isolated within their own community.

I don’t want to be part of a club that places body perfection above all else and nor would I want my future partner to be either. I value personality over biceps, witty banter over bulging quads, education over time spent in the gym and I hope to find someone who values similar things. Until then I’ll be eating carbohydrates, doing Pilates and drinking beers at the pub.

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  1. Jack says:

    Finally someone saying what many have been thinking. This has been going on for too long and has perfectly summed up my problem with the gay community.

  2. Michael Whitmore says:

    WORD!!!! Love this story xx

  3. Alex says:

    Hey, this is a great read, thanks for writing this. This is an issue many of us deal with. It’s also a very Sydney thing [I’m sure it happens elsewhere of course]: if you don’t have the body, nice face big dick, money [and a lot of the time, if you’re not white] you’re not shit. Sad but true… Lot’s of us don’t fit that archetype yet unfortunately I know so many friends who are desperate to conform to that ideal of ‘gay perfection’, and they tear themselves up about it…

  4. John says:

    Great article and something that needs to be discussed! I think Social Media definitely compounds the issue as these applications focus solely on images (Instagram, Grindr etc.). Akin to how people use Facebook to only show the “best” aspects of their life in what’s become a perverted personal branding exercise, the gay community uses it and other apps to show only their best photos. A photo can’t be uploaded unless you look amazing in it, right? It aggravates in young gay men (as does porn, to be honest) anxieties about trying to reach an unachievable concept of “attractive”. Obsessively using filters, postures and lighting to upload your best picture is just how photoshopping in the magazine industry is manifesting in the ordinary population thanks to smart phones and the digital age. I do think the issue is pervasive in the heterosexual community as well though. Thanks TMGGTL !

  5. John says:

    Few angles the author failed to consider or mention is, how those people who go to the gym, do it for their health and well-being. Not all gay men go to the gym to “look good naked”. Some of us do it for our selves and to make ourselves happy. Though, clearly in this modern age, most of the others do it for the reasons noted above.

  6. ziosattic says:

    like Beyoncé said “perfection is a disease of a nation” I agree with you!! Enjoy life!

  7. Not so buff says:

    Wow.Go easy on the internalized homophobia. Stop by my predominantly straight gym some time and see all the straight boys worry about their abs and their perky asses. Sounds to me like you enjoy going to events with lots of buff guys and then you enjoy judging them because their priorities are different from yours.

    • joshvansant says:

      Thanks for reading and for your comment, although I’m not sure how this post reflects internalised homophobia.

      You’re right though that some straight men are just as body image obsessed as some gay men. I take issue though at one body type being held up as the ideal for all gay men. Straight men are lucky in that there are more examples of differing body types within “Straight” culture. The predominant image for gay men is one of a perfectly gym buffed, hairless, white male and so many strive to reach this often unattainable perfection. People will even go as far as injecting illegal and harmful drugs into their body.

      I’m all for health and fitness and achieving your goals but if you’re gym obsession is based on making your body attractive to others and your sense of self worth depends on it, whether you’re gay or straight, then personally I think that your priorities are wrong.

      • Not so buff says:

        As long as we have mirrors, people will try to make themselves more attractive. And gay men will focus on their bodies because they can compare themselves to the men they’re attracted to in a way that straight men never can. It’s the nature of sexual attraction. Maybe their priorities are wrong, but judgy blog posts aren’t likely to change that equation.

      • joshvansant says:

        You’re right, one blog post can’t change a whole culture but hopefully it will offer an alternate perspective.

  8. Not so buff says:

    My issue with your perspective is that you’re blaming gay men for being human. No question, the bar has been raised, but I was gay long before the internet was invented and I was judging my body against the boys I was attracted to even then. The pursuit of body perfection is not a symptom of a “gay sickness.” It’s human beings doing what human beings have always done — try to make themselves more attractive. Advocate for people to be more healthy, advocate for looking at the total package and not just the abs, but don’t blame gay men for their humanity,

  9. D says:

    You took those words out of my mouth, honestly, I’ve been feeling like this for some time now. Everyone’s the same! Literally, it’s alarming, I don’t know, I’ve started to feel like I’m ugly and unattractive because everyone’s so obsessed with body image. I am not fat, I’m skinny, but I refuse to work out because it’s awkward at the gym… Instead of muscles I’m happy to have a loving partner and we may not be perfect but we have each other. 🙂

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