Why would Out Magazine send a straight male reporter to Hot Nude Yoga?

February 2008 Out MagazineFebruary 2008 Out Magazine

2008’s first issue of Out magazine is hitting the stands with its Swimsuit Issue. February’s centerpiece is a five page essay on Hot Nude Yoga (HNY), a New York City-based gay-centric practice. Out’s a gay magazine so nothing unusual there, right?

Well, Out chose a straight writer with no apparent yoga experience to be our eyes and ears regarding HNY to determine whether the company provided any “yogic benefit, or if it was just a place for dudes to hook up.” Were there no gay, capable freelance writers available to conduct this research? Or did the magazine have a different, more prurient angle in mind?

Aaron Star and HNY Yoga PracticionersAaron Star leading a HNY classBefore attending the class, our author (he’s straight he reminds us again in case we missed it) admits that he’s scared of being naked around gay men and cops to imagining gay guys in the class frolicking about and groping one another — and him.

Once the author goes to an actual class, the readers get page after page about his penis, more about his fear that a gay man would cop a feel, his not being able to focus due to his fears, and a confessional about his “spiteful” penis which he worries might betray him and get aroused. Hidden in the article are two quotes from Aaron Star, HNY’s founder, which are apparently used to comply with the author’s preconceived notion that gay nude yoga is a place to hook up with dudes.

He concludes that he’s not sure if what he did was yoga, but it was nude, kind of nice, and informs us that his penis remained “quiet and obediently limp.” All those pages, and not even a single quote from any of the gay men in the class? I hoped that at worst the writer would play the role of a young Jane Goodall, and the gays at HNY would be the chimpanzees. No such luck even on that level. I am gay, practice yoga, and have gone to nude yoga five times and can testify HNY deserved better than Out gave it.

At best the story is vanity piece peppered with snarky comments about gay butt hair and dangling testicles. The openly-gay founder and his followers come off looking lousy and even a little shady. When contacted for a quote regarding the essay, Mr. Star responded that “(f)or PR, the piece is great and the wise will seek the truth, and the unwise will continue in their way as they would if the article was an incredible piece of journalism.”

I subscribe to Out partly due to its status as the leading gay monthly and because it’s a colorful/feel-good read. If I wanted to know what obliquely homophobic straight men think of gays, I’d subscribe to Details.