Gay Church

Every group of people has shadows that need to be shaken. For gay men, we’re often a bunch notoriously obsessed with our looks. Centuries of social isolation have given rise to plastic airs even our own kind have difficulties keeping up with. Human behavior can only be understood when the complexities of the layers beneath the surface are examined.  Identity is a myriad of personal circumstances. The gay experience is best viewed through a rainbow lens.

There’s an old adage in homo-culture that states “the gym is gay church”. While it’s a tongue-in-cheek statement, it’s also darkly ironic. There’s an expectation in gay male culture that bodies be slim, trim, and spryly sculpted. I know many who spend hours a day working out to obtain an Adonis-like physique. Eating disorders are rather normalized among many same-sex peer groups. When my chunky 15 year-old self came out of the closet in high school, I was quickly informed by a classmate that I couldn’t really be a homosexual. The reason? Well, you have to be hot to be gay! Thankfully, human sexuality is much more nimble than tepid social illusions!

That remark haunted me for years, though, and the allure of Adonis remains a dank cloud over the gay community. To get to the core of this complex, we have to dig beneath its plastic exterior.  It’s easy to make our bodies a sanctuary when we’ve been driven from our own houses of worship. Churches, mosques, and synagogues are where many find comfort, but many times it’s religion that begins the self-loathing process. When you “love the sinner, but hate the sin”, there’s a transfer of negative energy that can have dire consequences.  Hate becomes the operative word, and often we go to war with our bodies as a result of other people’s uncomfortability with our presence. We can’t make people change, but we can change ourselves. Let’s face it; it’s a lot easier to lose weight than it is to work through deep-seeded emotional pain!

Rejection isn’t always synonymous with religion, though. Many times it’s just plain ignorance that drives a wedge between gays and their friends and family. Sure, we’re making progress. With alarming stories of gay kids offing themselves, though, we obviously aren’t close to the end of this journey to acceptance. It’s easy to outcast people who aren’t like us. It’s also easy to forget how truly isolating it can feel at times to be gay. Well-meaning hetero-pals usually aren’t aware how lonely it can feel to only have a highly reduced chance of meeting someone who shares your sexual orientation.  In the Midwest, where urban migration moves many gays away and the closet locks many more inside, that feeling is intensified. When we spend too much of our time building lean muscle mass, we aren’t spending enough of our time bridging gaps in understanding. We let ourselves believe that a svet physique is the only ticket to companionship. We pursue perfection to escape isolation.

It’s a problem when developing your personality takes a back seat to mounting a six-pack. It’s your aura that draws people in, not the size of your waist. That famous gay rainbow is supposed to symbolize the diversity within our community, and we have a menagerie of body types. Body image issues plague people of all sexual orientations. Let’s melt the plastic and get to the point!

 

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. David Friday
    Dec 14, 2010 @ 04:28:09

    I stay fit, not to be popular, but to be healthy so I can hopefully live long enough to fulfill my dreams.

    Reply

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