I’ve been involved with the fitness industry in one way or another for all of my adult life. I worked for many of these for Les Mills which is a gym company whose founder and namesake famously voted as Mayor of Auckland against council support for their “Hero Parade”, which celebrated the LGBT communities in that region at the time. Thus I have long been acutely aware of the hypocrisy of the fitness industry in relation to the legions of gay men who populate the gyms, buy the supplements and read the magazines. In the New Zealand vernacular this attitude goes something like “I don’t mind them as long as they don’t shove it down my throat”.
Fair enough, I guess, none of us really wants to have the sexual orientation of others shoved down our throats. Yet, I’ve had to put up with it for years. I can’t open a magazine aimed at men (yes, indeed I am a man) without having to contend with endless facile pseudo-psychological articles explaining to me how to ‘attract, stimulate, maintain and then offload’ women as objects of men’s desire. In magazines that are fairly unambiguously aimed at the straight guys – no problem – but in the ones that ostensibly are intended for the health conscious gym-goer, it comes to me as an affront.
Never mind the (inexcusable really, in this day and age) notion of objectifying women and reducing them to some kind of rubik’s cube to solve in order to get a satisfying outcome. It’s the “the lady doth protest too much, methinks” deliberate insertion of these kinds of ‘articles’ into magazines that really have nothing to do with relationships and women that makes me so irate. I don’t think any self-respecting straight guy takes one moment’s notice of these pieces – I don’t think they’re there for that reason. They’re simply there to reassure the reader that even though they’re reading a magazine pumped full of imagery of beautiful young men with crafted musculature and perfect hair and even though they’re being told their skin-care regime is as important as their cardiac health, with the implication that they are obliged to consider themselves as an object of desire, they can still rest assured that the are not gay, nor behaving like a gay, nor any such horror.
And the gays who read these magazines and attend the gyms (and more likely than not pose for the photographs and write the articles), well, we just lie back and take it.
Maybe it’s me, maybe because I work in one of the last bastions of compulsory heterosexuality, but I’ve got to say I’m getting mighty tired of having everyone’s heterosexuality ‘shoved down my throat’.