I am taking a keen interest in the fact that the Bally’s “health and fitness” chain is advertising on Logo, the gay cable TV channel.
I guess they want more gay members. I guess they want more gay men and women to go to their facilities. Just a minute! My logic is off a bit there. Major and minor premises not matching. Bally’s wants money, and does not mind selling memberships to gay people in order to get it. That’s a safe conclusion.
This has implications.
If a potential member presents himself (or herself, and for the duration of this bit, let’s assume I am including lesbians in the gender-unbalanced mascu-speak of English), at a Bally’s gym and states that he is gay and is responding to the commercial on Logo, we will have to assume that a smiling and commission-driven salesman (Bally’s calls them personal trainers) will brightly say “No problem”, and usher the prospect through the usual tour of the facilities.
The prospect will soon find that Bally’s provides a total health and fitness experience at facilities designed for a good amount of same-sex group nakedness.
The “men only” locker rooms contain rows of lockers with no demure barriers or opportunities for the modest exchange of street clothes for work-out gear. In fact, street clothes and gym bags are not allowed on the actual gym floors. One could, of course, arrive in gym gear and avoid the locker room entirely, but that is not what Bally’s is selling, if the tour is to be believed. The locker room, the gang showers, the steam room, the sauna (in many clubs not co-ed) are pointed out as part of what you get for your membership.
Since Bally’s also targets the heterosexual market, it is safe to assume that the company intends for gay and straight men to be naked together as part of the total Bally’s experience.
This intention is admirable, sophisticated, curious and hilarious, all at once.
I, for one, deeply enjoy the fact that I am frequently naked with many naked straight men at my gym(s). This experience is really much more erotic than that provided by the many venues in which I am naked among other naked gay men. Those events can be such a yawn. No tension. No mystery. No plot to unfold. No surrendering to desire. No furtive glances. No darting eyes. No wondering if or how. Just the accessible mechanics of sex. I frequently fall asleep on my feet in such gatherings and have begun to wonder if I should continue my attendance. But, whether at a sex party or at a gym, I am effortlessly under control and will rarely sport wood unless very caffeinated or until coaxed by extreme talent.
I am obviously jaded.
But what about those gay men who have not had my life, and who join Bally’s and find themselves under warm water with a handful of moisturizing foamy soap in the company of several well-built naked men whose muscles are distended and whose skin is glowing from a completed work-out? Should it not be expected that that they will produce firm evidence of their appreciation? Do the Bally’s salesmen instruct new gay members not to soap their privates at such a moment? Certainly the straight men receive no such instruction. And, if a straight man takes offense at the sight of an erection pointing at him in the shower room, and reports the offense to the club’s management, can the gay member really be chastised or suspended or revoked of membership? Nope. It’s to be expected.
Obviously, Bally’s can and should invoke an over-arching policy of “No sex anywhere in our facilities”. Fair enough (even though this rule provokes considerable snickering among all and any who have ever spent any time at those facilities, but that is another story, and one not exclusive to Bally’s). The facilities they provide do not automatically usher in the having of sex among members, but they do facilitate the experience of men being naked among those they define as sex objects, and among those who view them as sex objects. That is the presumption of the design.
If straight men were to take this presumption to its logical conclusion, could they not request of Bally’s the right to be naked in the presence of those they define as sex objects (i.e., women, for those not following this)? After all, why should gay men be granted a privilege not afforded straight men? I’d really like to see a straight man surrounded by a dozen toned foxes stepping out of their lycra learn to exercise the level of self-control required of a gay man in a group shower at his gym.
Let’s all hope that straight men never make this request. Bally’s would probably be forced to resolve the issue by establishing a “gay only” locker room to be used jointly by gay men and lesbians.
That, my friends, is an unsavory thought. Forget I ever suggested it.