Iwake up in the morning and check Grindr like I would a newspaper. It’s a gay hook-up site heavily populated by white men. This inevitably bores me, because I have justified anxieties about dating across race. People who have killed millions of black people throughout history could well harbour fetishes of seducing black boys and killing them afterwards. This is why, despite using an app full of white people, I have never dated one. I am a buff gay man and my stats are 1.76m, 75kg, 18.2cm. I would not fail the “no fats or femmes” test. I go to gym six times a week and eat five times a day to maintain a muscular physique.
This, of course, is difficult and unsustainable for many gay men, and so they look for easier approaches to make sure they are competitive in the market. They take illegal steroids.
If you want to get a broad chest, big calves and look like a walking hook-up, you would consider cheap anabolic steroids such as Dianabol at R200. I know more about steroids than I knew about the economics exam I wrote last month. I am one of the thousands of gay men worldwide interested in steroids.
In 2002, a study by UK researchers concluded that one in seven gay men who attended London gyms admitted to using steroids, and another study by the American Academy of Pediatrics looked at teenagers who identified as gay or bisexual. They were five times more likely to be on anabolic steroids than straight teens.
These statistics shouldn’t surprise us. They are a response to an amplification of hypermasculinity and patriarchy in our society. Men who sleep with men grow up not being validated in their manhood. This is evident in how artists Chris Brown and 50 Cent still use “gay” as an insult to demean someone for being less of a man. Queer men want to compensate for their perceived deficiency in manhood as a result of homophobia.
There’s more to it than that, of course. In the media, gays are almost always portrayed as muscular, whether in magazines like Gay Pages that appropriate the label “gay” and make it exclusively white, cisgender and buff, or in a TV series like Noah’s Arc, where black and Latino gay men look like they go to the gym for a living. The subtle message that respectable gays must be muscular is also visible in virtually every porn movie I have masturbated over.
It is time society reviewed its position on drug use. The criminalisation of drugs has not had any significant effect on controlling drug use. Instead, what the law has done is to ensure people cannot seek medical advice about bad habits. It perpetuates an unhealthy culture in the black market, where people inject unregulated dosages of unapproved drugs. The steroid route is not a healthy option. There are severe risks: kidney failure, impotence and death, among many other possibilities. The body of a god you worked hard for ends up being a fast trajectory to your death – and a heavy, elephant-like coffin is hard to carry. Does this mean you cannot look like your Man Crush Monday? No!
What works for me, especially coming from a township without a gym, has been running and meditation. It may seem strange to recommend meditation, but it’s not. Your mental state influences how you push your body to its limit. Meditation does not need to be Deepak Chopra style, where you sit in the lotus position waiting for the archangel Metatron, but a commitment towards ensuring your mind is at peace and the body is ready for work. Many people who have access to gym usually drop out after January and have to pay monthly subscriptions for a year. That is a waste because they think it is all about the body – but attitude is everything.
The second commandment of gym is a healthy eating plan. Many people assume it is expensive and unsustainable to eat well, but I get my monthly fruits and vegetables for less than R500 in downtown Joburg. I am able to blend my fruits and make exciting smoothies that boost my energy levels when I’m studying.
You need to understand that a healthy body is not necessarily one that looks muscular. Your life goal should be to live longer and to at least see Beyoncé live before you die. Bhengu is studying economics and is an
independent researcher at Wits. Follow him on Twitter @fistvoices