The Masculine Critique

By |2006-07-06T09:00:00-04:00July 6th, 2006|Opinions|

By R.J. Beaumia

Like many gay men, I’ve been flummoxed my entire life by anything to do with team sports, at least outside of their homoeroticism.
Various balls given to me throughout childhood languished in storage, never once meeting a hoop, a bat, or a cleat. A gift of a piece of sports equipment was always greeted with the same puzzled expression, as if I’d been given a box of tampons.
Some sporting paraphernalia began to make lots of sense to me in adolescence. Wrestling singlets, jockstraps, white socks, and high-top shoes were all well understood and appreciated. Still are.
Throughout my youth, listening to sports on the radio was dead boring. The same went for watching it on television, at least until puberty, when it became a joyous font of voyeurism.
The actual playing of sports, however, was always coerced out of me and became a locus of baffling aggression and vertiginous humiliation.
My ineptitude at sports led to strident public hecklings, and I became an exile from countless playing fields and courts. My frustration was compounded by the fact that the hecklers were usually really hot; I loathed Randy every time he degraded me in front of our whole gym class for my clumsiness, but in the locker room I noticed he had a big dick, so I found it in my heart to forgive him.
Years later, Randy and his penis were elected to the House of Representatives. Both Republicans, of course.
Meanwhile, I would deal for many years with an intense love-hate relationship with athletes that made the sadomasochism in “Last Tango in Paris” look like a squabble from a skit on “Home Improvement.”
Fetishes and years on the therapist’s couch aside, I’ve never gotten anything out of team sports. The world of those games – the rules, the statistics, the leagues, and so on – is completely alien to me. I don’t understand why people squander precious time on such pursuits. If something doesn’t change history for the better, improve the quality of people’s lives, expand knowledge, stimulate new ideas – or get me a book deal – then I really don’t see the point.
Yes, I understand that the beauty and health benefits gained from athleticism are tremendous, and that’s to be appreciated. As someone who will, for hours, watch a soccer broadcast from Brazil – and doesn’t know how to play “futbol” or speak Portuguese – I can attest that the effects of rigorous physical activity on the aesthetics of a man’s backside are not displeasing in the least.
But why not just go to Bally’s? Well, because some contend that exercise alone isn’t enough, saying team sports can be a healthy outlet for satisfying the primeval urge of conquest through battle while building a strong body, too. What they don’t realize is that vanquishing your prey while working on your glutes has long been a staple at the gay gym.
So, sports… How come?
It’s all about maintaining one’s “manhood,” which apparently is under attack once again, according to a contributor at ESPN publications.
A cutie named Alan Grant, a former NFL player weighing in on the use of steroids in baseball, recently wrote on the Web publication ESPN Page 2 that athletes who use illegal performance-enhancing drugs are getting a bad rap.
“I think most men would agree that super-manhood is a noble pursuit,” Grant said.
I can hear the Nobel jury now. “Let’s see… Should we give the prize to that person who cured AIDS, the one who ended the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or the one who invented the protein shake? God, this job is tough!”
Grant lamented that any man who tries to live up to the Ubermensch ideal by using steroids faces being unfairly “stripped of his male accomplishments and cloaked in shame. He is called a ‘cheater’… This absurd witch hunt has become an epidemic,” Grant said. Throw in a crown of thorns and a few nails in with that cloak and you can start a fan club and never pay taxes!
Fortunately for the juicers out there, Grant said there’s a perennial favorite deflecting the heat away from them. It’s an American classic. “The gay issue. [It’s] making a comeback! Not a moment too soon. Crude, old-fashioned, sophomoric statements about sexuality are just the thing to counterbalance this obsession with steroids,” he said.
Taking Grant’s statements out of context makes him sound like a real jerk. He wasn’t being one. He was simply trying to comment on a couple of sports celebrities recently in the news. I won’t go into who these men are because, frankly, I’ve never heard of them, don’t know to which teams they belong, or even what sports they play. One of the guys is going through a messy public divorce, and his wife is accusing him of having an affair with a male friend. The other guy is some big mouth who got in trouble for calling a reporter a fag several times during an interview with another journalist.
I’ll let Grant explain his point, because it’s so much better than anything I could come up with. He said “the athletic world – that realm of all things male, musky, and aggressive – is the final frontier of masculinity.” If I’m not mistaken, he might be quoting a line from a Johnny Hazzard video.
Grant was trying to be good, but his concept of masculinity and homosexual men is rooted in 1990, which I suppose is pretty progressive for the sports world.
In defending steroid use, he tried to defuse counterarguments by citing the woes of a baseball player who got caught up in a steroids sting. “I doubt 13 federal agents would have raided Jason Grimsley’s home because they wanted to collect evidence of an ‘alternative lifestyle,'” Grant said.
He’s right. At least not after gay sex was de-criminalized in 2003.
I will compromise with Grant on masculinity. I’ll take everything that’s male, musky, and aggressive, and he can have the athlete’s foot.

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BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.