Apr 15, 2014

Do Gays have an Advantage in the Locker Room?

It's a question that came into my mind the other day after an awkward incident in the gym locker room in which a pretty hot guy and I made prolonged eye contact. Where do we draw the line between subtly catching someone's attention, and sexual harassment with the eyes? With the many recent stories of gay athletes coming out in recent months, locker room debate has spawned all over, and some heterosexuals (mainly males) are really pushing the line of respect when it comes to not just their fellow gay athletes, but the LGBT community in general. I'd like to take a look at two main ideas in this post. First, I'd like to explore the question, Do Gays have an Advantage in the Locker Room? Second, I'd like to explore why it is that some heterosexual males are uncomfortable with "having to share" locker room space with homosexuals.

Do Gays have an Advantage in the Locker Room?

The gym that I attend is right down the street from my apartment, in the neighborhood of Bedstuy, Brooklyn. This area, as far as I know, is not known as a "Gayborhood." As a matter of fact, I have blogged, before, about the couple of incidences I have had at that gym regarding homophobic speech and behavior. And while there may be many gyms in the NYC area that are smack-dab in the middle
of a common gay area, these gyms do not hold the entire population of gym going homosexuals. That being said, I think it is safe to say that being a homosexual and meeting someone at the gym can prove to be tricky and challenging.

For one, many of us go to the gym to work out. Either small talk is not welcomed by others, or we, ourselves have inhibitions when it comes to approaching someone else to speak about anything, let alone trying to "find out" if the other guy is gay. At the gym, prolonged eye contact can have multiple meanings. Someone may be eyeing you down because they are genuinely interested in getting to know you, but can't find the words, or they may be trying to get your attention to see if you're almost finished with the leg press; Again tricky and challenging. These are examples of how gays are at a disadvantage. Because of heteronormal behavior, a female might very well be able to pick up on the fact that a guy is flirting with her if he approaches her in a certain manner, whereas, gay men have to walk on eggshells so as to not offended someone if they're not absolutely sure.

So where is this advantage that I keep asking about? In the locker room, of course. And while this may not lead to any sort of substantial relationship, it is a fact that homosexuals are just like everyone else. We are not exempt from "checking out" other people. When in the locker room, it is very easy to take your fill of eye candy. This is nothing new, and we all will not act like it doesn't happen. After the whole "Jason Collins comes out" story, "Gays checking out other guys in the locker room" became a hot topic among gym going males. During this time I saw viewpoints and opinions from varying extremes. I read everything from "Yo, gays should have their own locker room, I don't want them checking me out" [usually said by people who wouldn't be checked out in the first place] to "You straight people are so full of yourself. I can assure you that a gay person in the locker room is NOT checking you out" [Sorry, but that's just not true].

So it is my opinion that gays do, in fact, have an advantage in the locker room when it comes to checking out "eye candy." But make no mistake, heterosexuals, not everyone  is eye candy. 

The discussion on why gays should have their own gyms and locker rooms, however, brings up the second point of discussion that I would like to address today.

Why is it that some heterosexual males are uncomfortable with "having to share" locker room space with homosexuals?

If we can agree that eye candy gets ogled, then we can agree that gays are checking out the hot guys in their locker rooms. Again, this does not mean that gays are checking out every guy in their locker room. To think so would be to support one of the many ugly stereotypes against the LGBT community. We are all human, we all use our eyes [with exception to the blind]. But even if gay men did check out every single guy that crossed their paths, how is this any different from what females experience on a day to day basis with heterosexual males? Cat calling, inappropriate ogling, sexual harassment, uncalled for innuendo, unwanted flirting, the list goes on. Is it somehow misogynistic for straight males to be so adamant about being "checked out" when their fellow heterosexual females have been getting "check out" for all of history? It appears, to me, that heterosexual males are angered/disturbed/afraid of being objectified... something that women have had to deal with for ages. And yes, women sometimes get "female only" nights at the gym, or "women's only" sections in some facilities, but those amenities are a small step in the right direction of making females feel comfortable. The real action that needs to take place is the removal of inappropriate behavior on the account of heterosexual males.

And while I have heard stories of homosexual males being inappropriate at the gym or in public with regard to making straight males uncomfortable, and trying to push a campaign of getting said straight male into one's bed chamber, those incidents, I am sure, number much lower than those in which heterosexual males force themselves on heterosexual females.

So where do we go from here? I'd really like to read your feedback. You can leave a comment in the comments section below, or you can bring the discussion to the Edugaytion group on facebook. You can also email me at blasianFMA@gmail.com

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