Archive for the tag - gay

WTF: Half Of Gay Men Would Die For The Perfect Body.

perfect-male-bodyHow far would you go for the so-called perfect body? Diet and exercise? Plastic surgery? What about death?

According to one study, 48% of gay men would trade a year of their life for the perfect body. And a staggering 10% of those respondents would trade 11 years (or more!) if they could have that perfect body right now!

There’s a few reasons why we shouldn’t be surprised.

First, it’s not just gay men. A lot of straight people would die for the perfect body, too. A survey of British women ages 18 to 65 found that nearly one in three would trade a year of their life for a perfect body.

Second, we know that gay men are particularly dissatisfied with their bodies. Study after study has found that body dissatisfaction is highest in gay men. We are more dissatisfied with our bodies than straight men, lesbians or straight women. As such, it’s not shocking that more of us would die early for the perfect body.

Third, when it comes to body image, gay men really experience the perfect storm. Sure, coming out and being rejected by family and friends or experiencing discrimination may have some impact on the way we see ourselves – and our bodies. But lesbians experience a relatively high level of body satisfaction, so that doesn’t tell the complete story. And yes, gay culture is very body-centric; we see images of go-go boys in speedos or underwear models with six packs. But straight culture directs similar and even more pervasive imagery towards straight women. So why do gay men hate their bodies even more?

I don’t think gay men objectify men’s bodies any more than straight men objectify women’s bodies. But with gay men, we also happen to live in the same bodies that we objectify. If a straight guy likes a woman with big breasts, he’s not necessarily going to beat himself up for not having boobs. If a gay guy is attracted to pecs, he may become upset with himself for not having them. And therein lies the difference.

So what’s the lesson to be learned in all of this? When it comes to body image, gay men have a lot of work to do. But where there are great challenges, there are also great opportunities.

In the comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts for learning to replace some of that body hate with love.

P.S. Recognizing that rebuilding and repairing the relationship with your body is the foundation for any true and lasting transformation, I worked with psychotherapist and spiritual weight release coach Diane Petrella to put together a fat loss program based on self-love. It’s very different, but very powerful… feel free to check it out.

Let’s Talk About PrEP.

img.phpThis is a blog about health and fitness. And when it comes to your health, being proactive against disease and affliction is of paramount importance.

And that’s why I want to talk about PrEP.

And before anyone else mentions it, no this is not a sponsored post. This is an honest and open conversation that our community needs to be having.

First things first, PrEP is short for “pre-exposure prophylaxis,” and it involves the practice of using drugs like Truvada to prevent HIV infection. For high risk communities (i.e., sexually active gay or bisexual men), some doctors are prescribing this treatment to reduce risk of HIV infection. When taken as recommended, studies show that it can be up to 99% effective.

So is PrEP right for you? That’s something that only you and your doctor can decide. There’s a lot to consider, including risk factors, side effects, the fact that PrEP doesn’t guard against other STDs and, unfortunately, price. Truvada is expensive (roughly $1,500 per month) but it can be covered by insurance and there is a co-pay assistance program.

It’s estimated that about 500,000 people in the United States are potentially good candidates for PrEP. But according to PBS New Hour:

The drug’s manufacturer, Gilead Sciences Inc., says that in reviewing records from about half of U.S. pharmacies that dispensed Truvada between January 1, 2012, and March 31, 2014, it found that only 3,253 people had started the PrEP regimen during that period.

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HIV infections in the United States.

So why has PrEP been so slow to catch on?

There are probably a number of factors. For one, a lot of people don’t know about PrEP. It isn’t currently being actively marketed and, for whatever reasons, people don’t seem to be talking about it. There’s also a layer of stigma. I’ve heard PrEP referred to as the “slut pill.” People who proactively prioritize their health shouldn’t be shamed; they should be celebrated and emulated.

At a certain point, we need to recognize that condom campaigns and HIV education aren’t enough. HIV infections continue to rise. We need a new tool and PrEP could be part of the answer.

At the end of the day, gay and bisexual men are at high risk for HIV infection. And here is a treatment that dramatically cuts that risk. For me, it’s as simple as that.

What do you think about PrEP? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Is Gay Marriage Good For Your Health?

Kiss: Sean Chappin + Juan Valdez / 20100117.7D.02121.P1.L1.BW /In June, the United States Supreme Court may (finally!) legalize same-sex marriage in all fifty states. It’s a huge and historic decision with many implications. As such, it’s worth examining how the ruling may actually impact our health.

No, I’m not kidding.

As it turns out, researchers at Columbia University found a link between marriage equality and health. By analyzing health data from a group of Massachusetts gay men twelve months before and after that state’s same-sex marriage legalization. According to researchers, there was a 13% drop in healthcare visits after the law was enacted. And this was regardless of the participants’ relationship status.

Researchers found a drop in blood pressure problems, depression and adjustment disorders. As such, the study’s lead researcher concluded that “removing these barriers improves the health of gay and bisexual men.”

But why?

Federal marriage comes with 1,138 benefits, rights and privileges. To be denied those benefits, rights and protections may lead to stress, low self-esteem and higher risk factors for drug use, alcoholism and even unsafe sex. Though somewhat speculative, it’s likely that being treated as a second class citizen has some very real health implications for the LGBT community.

In other words, there’s a lot to celebrate about the (hopefully!) favorable Supreme Court decision in June. An improvement to our health is just one of the many reasons.

 P.S. For a fat loss program that’s about more than just diet and exercise, download Davey Wavey’s Weight Loss Program – and rebuild a more productive relationship with your body.

The Truth About Gay Men In The Locker Room.

Dear Davey,

I’m an openly gay college athlete and many of the other players have privately expressed their concerns about changing and showering in the locker room with me. I’m not really sure what to do and wanted your advice.

From,
Jon

lockerroomHey Jon,

My advice is to link them to this article. They need an education and this class is in session.

First and foremost, your straight teammates need to understand that they’ve been sharing locker rooms with gay men their entire lives. They just didn’t know it. There is nothing new or different about showering with you; the only difference is that you’ve had the courage to come out to them.

Second, their straight teammates are probably more keen to check out their bodies than other gay men. The truth is, the locker room can be a pretty intimidating place for gay guys, and most of us go out of our way to avoid any sideways glances or awkwardness. Straight guys, on the other hand, seem perfectly comfortable staring at other guys and even commenting on their packages. For most gay men, this is terrifying.

Third, it’s worth reminding your straight teammates that just because they are men and just because we are gay doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re even interested in looking. In other words, they need to stop flattering themselves.

But for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that your straight teammates are drop-dead gorgeous Adonises. And let’s pretend that you did actually take a lustful look at their nakedness. Is that such a terrible thing? Does you looking at them somehow rob them of their masculinity? Are they somehow lessened or diminished by your gaze? Absolutely not.

(In fact, you’re probably looking at them the same way that they look at women ALL THE TIME. But I digress.)

Finally, let’s not forget that straight guys are the ones with the power. It’s gay men who experience discrimination, who get teased and bullied for their sexual orientation and who are denied equality under the law. Straight guys aren’t victims in the locker room, or in life in general – and it’s not a cute look for them to pretend that they are.

In conclusion, my advice for your concerned straight teammates can be summed up in three simple words: Get over it.

Love,
Davey

Why Are Gay Men Skinnier?

gay guysOver the weekend, I visited a very gay gym in Palm Springs, California. Though most of the exercisers were well into their 50s, 60s and 70s, they were in better shape than most 20-year-olds. It raises the question: Why are gay men in better shape than straight men?

To answer that question, we must first examine whether or not it’s even true.

Certainly, the stereotype is that gay men are fit and muscular. But in reality, gay men come in all shapes and sizes. As a community, we’re not defined by a single body type.

However, when comparing gay men as a whole with straight men, it is statistically clear that gay men have a lower average body mass index (BMI). BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight – and, on average, gay men are thinner and a third less likely to be obese. This has been confirmed time and time again including an article in the American Journal of Public Health.

Of course, a lower BMI doesn’t necessarily mean that gay men are in better shape. It does mean that they’re skinnier. But skinny isn’t a synonym for healthy. I have many skinny friends that couldn’t run a mile.

Instead of asking why gay men are in better shape, it’s more accurate to ask why they’re skinnier. So why are gay men skinnier?

It’s a great question with no clear answer, especially given the breadth and depth of our community’s diversity. Based on my experience, here are a few possibilities:

  1. Gay culture is very body-focused. Pick up a magazine that targets straight guys. On the cover, you’d probably see a deer in cross hairs, a football player or a woman in a swimsuit. Pick up a gay magazine and it’s probably a dude in his underwear. This isn’t to say that straight men aren’t body focused, but much of that attention is directed at women – and not themselves. If a straight guy sees a bikini-clad woman on a magazine cover, his first thought is probably not that he needs to lose 25 pounds to look like her.
  2. Gay men can be overachievers. If society – or your family – treats you like you’re a second class citizen, you may feel like you need to prove your worth by becoming an overachiever. Being an overachiever isn’t just about working 70 hours a week and getting promotions. It can also translate to other areas of life, including the gym. Working out can become an obsession in the pursuit of perfection.
  3. Your body is a currency in the gay community. Some things feel beyond our control. Like getting older or how smart you are. Or even your job or how much money you make. But you do have control over your body. And in the gay world, a good body can open many doors. It can help you do and get the things you want. And it will definitely help you get laid. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, but it’s a true thing.
  4. You create in yourself what you are attracted to in others. If a straight guy is attracted to large boobs, he’s probably not going to try to create large boobs in himself. But in the gay world, you have the opportunity to create in yourself what you’re attracted to in other men. If you are attracted to large pecs, you’re probably going to want large pecs on yourself. It’s a uniquely gay experience, but certainly a possible motivating factor.

At the end of the day, we don’t really know what drives gay men to be skinnier. While we can discuss gay men’s motivation until we turn blue, what’s equally important is expressing those motivations in a healthy and productive way. In a culture ripe for eating disorders and body image issues, it means building a healthier relationship with your body.

In the comments below, please share why you think gay men are skinnier. What motivates gay men? What motivates you?

P.S. If you’re looking to lose weight through nutrition, exercise and an improved relationship with your body, I recommend downloading Davey Wavey’s Weight Loss Program; I co-wrote the program with a psychotherapist, a nutritionist and another personal trainer. It’s the last weight loss program you’ll ever need.

Why Do Gay Teens Binge Drink?

3111kghWOHLI’m gay. And I don’t drink alcohol.

For a lot of people in the gay world, a proclamation as such is met with suspicion. The follow-up question is usually, “But not ever? Ever?”

Alcoholism seems to run in my family. My great-grandfather was a terrible alcoholic and very abusive toward my great-grandmother and grandfather. As the recipient of this abuse, my grandfather promised himself that he’d never drink. He kept this promise his entire life – even while serving as a bombardier during World War II.

When I was entering my teenage years, my grandfather encouraged me to make a similar promise. And so I did. Aside from a sip of alcohol from my dad’s beer when I was a 4 or 5, I’ve never tasted alcohol.

My story aside, it seems that alcohol plays a very central role in the gay and lesbian community. To be fair, alcohol plays a central role for many people – gay or straight – but, in the gay world, alcohol seems to be an especially celebrated focal point. Where there are gays, there is often alcohol consumption. In fact, according to a study by Laurie A. Drabble, PhD, 75% of gay people identify as current drinkers versus 59% of straights. On average, gay people drink 16% more than straight people.

Just last week, a new study was presented by the Pediatric Academic Society during their annual meeting in Vancouver, BC. It’s the first of its kind to explore the relationship between binge drinking and minority stress experiences – like gay-related victimization and homophobia – in gay teenagers. According to the study, chronic stress caused by difficult social situations can be attributed to higher rates of binge drinking in gay and lesbian teenagers versus their straight peers.

Gay or straight, alcohol abuse is a large and complicated problem. Beyond sabotaging your gym results, alcoholism can wreak havoc on many areas of your life. But studies like these may lead to tailored treatment and prevention approaches rooted in the unique experiences of higher risk populations – including the gay and lesbian community.

What do you think? Do you think alcohol abuse is a big problem in the gay and lesbian community?

I’m Insecure at the Gym.

Dear Davey,

I’m 26 years-old, a certified personal trainer… I’m gay and while I would certainly be considered to be very fit, I’ve been feeling increasingly ostracized in the gay fitness community.

I used to LOVE going to the gym. I’d go five or six days a week, sometimes twice for an extra cardio or abs session, and loved every second of it. Lately, I’m barely able to drag myself there once or twice a week, and I feel nothing but self-conscious the whole time. I live in a densely gay populated area of DC, so the gym is essentially like watching clothed porn stars work out. While I realize the foolishness in comparing oneself to others, these guys are in PHENOMENAL shape yet strut around talking about how terrible their abs look, and how their arms are only seventeen inches big and all sorts of ridiculous crap.

Still, over the course of many months, it’s kind of made me feel like what’s the point of working out at all? I’m in great shape but certainly not bodybuilder/porn star worthy. Being a trainer, I’ve always prided myself on having healthy, balanced, challenging workout plans, and now when I walk into the gym, I just feel like I have no clue what to do.

From,
D

gymDear D,

Thank you for your heartfelt and honest email. You’re certainly not alone.

If you didn’t go to a gay gym, I’d be tempted to remind you that most people are too caught up in their own workouts to pay much attention to anyone else around them. In most situations, the judgement that exercisers feel is perceived judgement and not actual judgement. The reality is that most people could care less what you look like or how much weight you’re lifting.

But things are a bit different at gay gyms. As someone who has attended many gay gyms, there’s a certain layer of sexual tension that pervades the environment. And yes, many guys do seem to be paying attention to the exercisers around them.

There are a few things to keep in mind.

First, when amazingly built guys talk about how crappy their abs look, know that it’s a reflection of their own insecurities and not an assessment on your level of fitness. Just because they’re spouting ridiculousness to each other doesn’t mean that you need to believe or internalize it. That is their path and their fitness journey. Don’t make it your own.

Second, reassess your reasons for working out. What motivates you? Yes, there is an appeal to looking a certain way. As a personal trainer, you know that vanity is what brings most people in the door. The thing is, most of us soon discover the true benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle – and how it fundamentally improves every aspect of your being. The shift happens wherein people exercise not because they hate their body, but because they love their body. And honoring your body with exercise is an extension of honoring your life. That’s the real magic. So take some time to examine your reasons for working out, and then let those reasons be your motivating force.

Third, you might want to find a new gym. If you truly feel like your workout environment is too toxic to tune out, why not go somewhere else? It’s great having a sense of community and working out with friends, but perhaps a different gym is a better fit. If you can’t change the way that you look at your gym situation, there’s no shame in removing yourself from it.

I’d love to hear what other suggestions readers might have. Please share them in the comments below and I hope this helps reinvigorate your passion and love for working out.

Love,
Davey

Why Gay Men Hate Their Bodies.

As a gay man and as a personal trainer, the issue of gay men hating their bodies is one that strikes close to home. And as someone who struggled with anorexia for years while growing up, this issue is personal.

There’s been a lot of discussion in recent weeks about why gay men hate their bodies more than straight guys, lesbians or even straight women. But I don’t think anyone is getting it right – so I decided to weigh in on the issue of gay men and body image.

Here’s why (I think) gay men hate their bodies so much.

Should I Join a Gay Gym?

If you’re a fitness-craving gay man living in a metropolitan area, then you’ve probably pondered this question: Should I join a gay gym?

It’s no secret that some gyms are gayer than others. As I write this article, I’m visiting downtown Toronto – and I could tell you exactly which gyms are known for being gay. The Extreme Fitness at Yonge and Dundas, for example, or the Goodlife at Bloor and Park. Yonge Street Fitness is pretty gay, too. In fact, while working out an especially gay (and now closed) gym, one of the members actually started kissing me in the middle of my ab workout.

On one hand, joining a gay gym can foster a sense of community. It’s always a nice change to not be in the minority – or outnumbered by straight people. Despite the unsolicited sexual advances, it feels safer. And it’s fun to see your friends while working out.

On the other hand, gay gyms come with their fair share of distractions. For one, they tend to be very cruisey. There will be no shortage of eye contact or staring, and you’ll need to ask yourself if you’re at the gym to workout – or to find a man. Or perhaps both. Whatever your motivation, be honest with yourself about it. If you really are joining a gym purely to workout, the distractions can be difficult.

Personally, I enjoy visiting gay gyms when I’m traveling. But, as a general rule, I don’t screw where I lift; it’s much easier to find a good man than it is to find a good gym. If you do hook up or get into a relationship with a gym buddy, know that you’ll continue to see him again and again when you workout. Depending on the experience, that could be a great thing. Or it could be horrible, awkward and uncomfortable.

I don’t think there’s an easy answer to the question, but I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Do you prefer working out at a gay gym? Why or why not?

Being Vegan is So Gay?

As a gay person, I understand the pain of oppression. I understand what it’s like to be denied equal treatment and fairness. And I also understand that an injustice to one is an injustice to all – whether it’s with women’s rights, racial discrimination… or the mistreatment of animals.

When Ari Solomon, columnist and animal rights activist, emailed me with an article titled “Being Vegan is So Gay,” I was struck by the intersections in our movements. Ari writes:

I went vegan… because I couldn’t stand knowing that I was paying other people to do to those animals what had been done, on a much smaller scale, to me. How could I say that I believed everyone deserved to be equal and have a chance to be happy when I was eating the remains of lives that had been wrought with misery and mercilessness.

Surely, if anyone can understand the mistreatment of animals in factory farms, it should be other oppressed populations. Like gay people. If you are pushing for equal, just and fair treatment for humans – how can you turn a blind eye to the food we buy and eat?

But unlike Ari, I don’t agree that the answer is necessarily veganism.

I think the consumption of meat, when done responsibly, is a very natural and beautiful thing. When we consume life – be it plant life or animal life – we’re participating in the great cycle of life, death and renewal that keeps this planet functioning.

For me, the answer is about being a conscious eater. Instead of buying factory farm meats, I buy grass-fed meats from Whole Foods or from local, pasture-centered family farms. In fact, Whole Foods even has a 5-Step animal welfare rating so that you can see how the animal was treated. It helps the consumer make wiser, more conscious choices.

But Ari is right: Oppression is oppression. The mistreatment of animals is an injustice, and it’s hypocritical for us to turn away.

What do you think? Do you think gay people – or other oppressed groups – have a special responsibility and duty to stand up for the rights of animals?