What’s a Gym Gay™️ Without the Gym? A Meditation.

A famous philosopher—or Instagay—once said, "I lift therefore I am." But is there a point of existence without a steam room?

I knew it would happen. It was inevitable. Restaurants, bars, and any and all social gathering hot spots were closing left and right, and it was only a matter of time before they came for the gyms. Then on Sunday evening, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that, starting at midnight, movie theaters, gyms, and fitness centers would shut their doors. I could all but hear the echo of gay hearts breaking all over West Hollywood.

Almost immediately, the memes started rolling in—and they were savage:

Some Gym Gays™️ found themselves taking a hard look in the mirror, saying to their already deflating reflections:

But proving you can’t keep a good Muscle Kween™️ down, mere seconds later the Instagays rallied, took off their shirts—if they were wearing one—and started offering up their own sexified at-home workouts. Because, while the world may stop, the thirst never will.

Now, there are numerous ways to keep active, healthy, and therefore sane while quarantined, but I’ll still miss the gym. As Will Truman once said, it’s gay church. And not just because you’re likely to find someone on their knees or taking in the body of someone at any given point in the day. No, sins are never absolved there—if anything, they’re openly exacerbated.

But the gym is where I go to find peace of mind… and, yes, the occasional full-frontal dong. It’s where I commune with a higher power—disco—for 90 minutes to two hours, five days a week. My gym time is the closest I get to true tranquility, as long as people don’t piss me off by hogging the goddamn machines or leaving their weights lying around like a fucking monster.

Where was I again? Oh, right. Inner peace. Because I value this time to myself, the gym is rarely ever a place for socializing, though for many gay men it is—and not just cruising. Keyword being “just.” For instance, if you’re sober, the gym offers a healthy alternative to bars and clubs but with practically the same clientele.

Or, if you’re like me and have never found gay nightlife establishments particularly welcoming in the first place, the gym can feel like home. And when traveling, it’s a home away from home. Finding a gym in a new city is always a centering experience because I know I can establish some semblance of a routine.

Of course, I don’t expect you to cry for me, Argentina, since Gym Gays, by definition, are the actual worst. And I say that as a purported Gym Gay, though I prefer the less masc-for-masc-sounding Muscle Kween. Propagators and products of unrealistic body images, the ubiquitous shirtless torsos, the Aaron Schocks of the world—the Gym Gay has long been a problematic fixture in the queer community.

But now with the gyms closed, is the Gym Gay ripe for a renaissance of self? Will those who tie their identities to squats and bench presses find another reason to be? Could this be the dawn of a kinder, gentler, less douchey Gym Gay? I guess that depends on how long we’re all forced to stay self-quarantined.

Until then, I’ll be following the endless supply of Instagay at-home workouts while pondering the nature of life itself between push-ups.

Lester Fabian Brathwaite is an LA-based writer, editor, bon vivant, and all-around sassbag. He's formerly Senior Editor of Out Magazine and is currently hungry. Insta: @lefabrat