Friday, August 20, 2010

Our workout routines, ourselves

The joke used to go that gym is gay church. In that case, it has gone from being a C&E social-club church to being a cult. In both talking to other gay men and reading online profiles, I notice increasingly that working out is not just something that many gay men do, as has long been the case, but instead evidently at or the near the core of their self-definition. Many religious leaders would be elated to see their parishioners give such a central place in their lives to their god or gods.

Once, when I noticed a handsome, very muscular man sizing me up, and I finally got the nerve to talk to him, I tried unsuccessfully to get him to talk about anything except his workout routine. While one person does not make a trend, my experiences with other gay men lead me to believe that he is far from unique.

Gay men used to work out to be attractive to other men. After all, being gay men, we cannot simply put on an expensive watch to get a date. Nonetheless, I suppose that eventually, gay men will start hooking up just so that they will have workout partners. Also, leave it to gay men to develop a sexual fetish for forced workouts (no, really -- do a search for it).

On this issue, the queer theorists, with their love of speculation over observation, have gotten it spectacularly wrong. They often advance arguments -- necessarily convoluted and necessarily untouched by empirical reality -- that only upper-class men have the time and resources to devote to working out. If so, an awful lot of gay men of my acquaintance will be surprised to learn that they are upper-class. What is left of a rule in the face of so much counter-evidence?

Full disclosure: Yes, I exercise. I do so because my doctor said that I needed to lose weight. It is not gay church for me.

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