My first roommate in New York City inspired me to go to the gym; but it wasn't because he cared about my health or thought I could lose a few extra pounds. In fact, he didn't even know he had influenced my decision. He was just being himself- a picture of gay perfection. He was tall, had a tight butt and a six pack to top it off. His bald head only added to his magnetic appeal. I'd watch as guys gave him the eye, plotting their next move.
I, on the other hand, sat with the other normal gay folks- a picture of insecurity waiting in line to be chosen. This went on for some time until I finally took matters into my own hands. The time I was spending envious of my roommates appeal, I could be improving my own. I figured I'd start at the gym. But, at the time I still didn't "get it." I thought by changing my physical appearance, the boys would come. What was really missing was my self-confidence. Nonetheless, my quest for physical perfection forced me to feel comfortable with my God-given physique.
So my gym shopping began.
I found myself in a trendy facility in Manhattan. There were gay and straight beefcakes everywhere pumping heavy free weights. Before that day I don't think I'd ever picked up a free weight, but if I were going to fill my black book, it was time to suck it up and pump some iron. Little did I know, this small goal would be so intimidating. There were no little scrawny guys like me in the mirror admiring their own pecks. Actually, it was a struggle just to get an inch of space. I learned quickly that the mirror was prime gym real estate reserved for the body beautifuls.
But what about the average guys like me? Didn't we deserve to admire our own bodies and see the results of our hard work? I paid the same membership fees and was promised the same amenities by the gym staff. I wanted my space in front of the mirror!
So I hesitated no longer. I proudly grabbed my small 25 pounders and worked in front of the mirrors. I copied the lifts I'd seen a couple of guys do and started on my own routine. Over time I didn't care if I pumped 25 or 15, I was there for me and not to impress a group of strangers. My new goals became about me and not who I thought was the image of perfection.
So there I worked out. Admiring my little muscles right next to my roommate's gigantic guns. I strained just as he did. I relished in my improvement like he had. And the next time we went out together, I walked around the club with the same confidence I so admired in him. I no longer wanted to be his clone, but to feel good about myself and my own body. Stacked or not, I knew I deserved the same mirror space as he did- whether in the gym, club, grocery store or gay pride parade. And from that point forward I vowed to take control of my own confidence- an image of perfection benchmarked by no one else.
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