At­lanta gay men: Dy­ing for beauty

GA Voice - - Georgia News -

By PA­TRICK SAUN­DERS “I’ll tell you that since that ar­ti­cle came out, I’ve had a num­ber of peo­ple ap­proach me, es­pe­cially younger gay men in their 20s, about whether or not they should do steroids. They’re want­ing my in­put on whether or not they should make that de­ci­sion and whether it’s worth it. It’s funny to me that they would ask me that.”

Body im­age is­sues have long been a topic of con­ver­sa­tion when it comes to gay men. There’s the mis­guided ex­pec­ta­tion of hav­ing the per­fect body, the six-pack, the bulging bi­ceps. For many, that’s where it ends—five days a week in the gym, strict diet, etc.—but oth­ers take it a step fur­ther and de­velop eat­ing dis­or­ders or, in many cases, start tak­ing steroids.

Stud­ies have shown that gay men are more prone to steroid use, but it’s not just the adults that are par­tak­ing. A no­table study from last year by the Fen­way In­sti­tute showed that gay and bi­sex­ual teen boys use il­licit steroids at a rate al­most six times higher than straight kids. It was billed as one of the first to ex­am­ine the prob­lem and it made many won­der—will th­ese gay and bi kids con­tinue to use into their adult years, and con­tinue to face the risks to their health?

One gay At­lanta man who used steroids for about three years had a wake-up call af­ter his health spi­raled down to the point where he was in heart fail­ure. He at­tributes the de­cline to his steroid use. He’s not out of the woods yet, but is on the un­steady path to re­cov­ery. Will oth­ers cur­rently us­ing in At­lanta stop be­fore it’s too late?

‘They’re very easy to get’

Will Arm­strong, owner of Burly Bak­ers, caused quite a stir in a re­cent Ge­or­gia Voice in­ter­view when he talked about how his steroid use caused his health is­sues, but he went fur­ther and men­tioned how many 40-yearold gay men he’s seen die from steroid abuse.

“I can name three or four peo­ple just in the last two years that have died, seem­ing-

Fe­bru­ary 5, 2016

ly healthy men but ob­vi­ously gym rats who are 250 pounds and chas­ing the dream and they’re dead,” he said at the time.

In a fol­low-up in­ter­view, Arm­strong says he started us­ing steroids about four years ago and it was an ap­pear­ance is­sue.

“I just wasn’t get­ting the gains in the gym that I wanted,” he ex­plains. “I just felt like I wasn’t get­ting the re­sults that I saw other guys get­ting.”

He de­clined to go into specifics about how he went about get­ting them, say­ing that the com­mu­nity is small and he doesn’t want to ac­ci­den­tally iden­tify some­one. But he did con­firm that, “They’re very easy to get, yes.” And the steroid us­age was no se­cret.

“I would say it was pretty open among the peo­ple that were do­ing the same thing be­cause it be­comes pretty ob­vi­ous on who’s do­ing it and who’s not be­cause there’s a nat­u­ral gym build and an un­nat­u­ral build,” he says. “It’s pretty easy to iden­tify what comes less nat­u­ral, you can tell. It’s some­thing that guys talk about once you know your peers are on it.”

Ini­tially, af­ter be­gin­ning to use them, the re­sults were noth­ing but pos­i­tive.

“My stamina and my sex drive im­me­di­ately in­creased, I’ll say that. I was able to Will Arm­strong ended up hav­ing a va­ri­ety of health is­sues, in­clud­ing heart fail­ure, in late 2014 and 2015 that he at­tributes to his steroid use. (Cour­tesy photo) work out more of­ten and was more driven. I started get­ting no­tice­able re­sults at the gym for sure,” he says.

As far as side ef­fects, look­ing back he can tell he be­came much more ag­gres­sive. But be­fore long, he would dis­cover the true cost of his steroid use.

‘Un­usual’ lab re­sults

In De­cem­ber 2014, Arm­strong was at a rou­tine doc­tor’s visit get­ting blood work done when his doc­tors found what they called “un­usual” lab re­sults. His blood was get­ting thick, which he later learned was com­mon in peo­ple on high doses of testos­terone.

“My testos­terone lev­els were al­most 4,000, and right now they’re at like 650, which is much more nor­mal,” he says. “My doc­tor warned at the time that my blood was ir­reg­u­lar. I didn’t do any­thing about it. In May was when I had the heart fail­ure.”

It was touch and go for the re­main­der of the year, but Arm­strong fi­nally quit the steroids, went on a low sodium diet and was pre­scribed sev­eral med­i­ca­tions. He’s since lost 50 pounds and is cur­rently on an I.V. infusion he ini­tially used around the clock. It is con­sid­ered a bridge-to-trans­plant drug. If he’s able to wean him­self off that suc­cess­fully, he may be able to avoid a heart trans­plant.

He says his brief men­tion of his steroid use in the last ar­ti­cle con­tin­ues to res­onate; he called steroid use in the gay com­mu­nity “ex­tremely preva­lent.”

“I’ll tell you that since that ar­ti­cle came out, I’ve had a num­ber of peo­ple ap­proach me, es­pe­cially younger gay men in their 20s, about whether or not they should do steroids. They’re want­ing my in­put on whether or not they should make that de­ci­sion and whether it’s worth it. It’s funny to me that they would ask me that.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.