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ESPN Magazine's Body Issue - For Those of Us Who Love A Man OUT of Uniform

Espn body issue 2015_kevinlove

 

2019 marks the 10-year anniversary of ESPN Magazine's first Body Issue, which celebrates the musculature of athletes across the spectrum of professional sports (male as well as female).  Despite the athletes being photographed in the buff, these photos have more in common with Michelangelo's sculptures than Robert Mapplethorpe's images.  And although I would have preferred seeing more body hair, it's refreshing that a major sports magazine doesn't have any hang-ups about putting the bodies of athletes front and center for readers to admire.  (And kudos to the athletes who participate.)  Finally, both 2017's and 2018's edition included openly gay male athletes: skier Gus Kenworthy and figure skater Adam Rippon

 

Although there were hundreds of photos to choose from (a challenge I happily accepted) I managed to narrow them down to my two dozen favorite:

 

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Baseball star Giancarlo Stanton (2013)
 
 
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NFL wide receiver Julian Edelman (2017)

 

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Rugby star Malakai Fekitoa (2017)
 
 
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Javier Baez of the Chicago Cubs (2017)
 
 
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Figure skater Adam Rippon (2018)
 
 
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NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick (2013)
 
 
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Speed skater Apolo Ohno (2011)
 
 
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Hockey player Tyler Seguin (2015)
 
 
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Football player Julian Edelman (2017)

 

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Pitcher Matt Harvey (2013)

 

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Tennis player Tomas Berydch (2014)

 

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NFL wide receiver Antonio Brown (2016)
 
 
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Pitcher Jake Arrieta (2016)
 
 
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Mixed martial arts champion Conor McGregor (2016)
 
 
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Baseball star Yasiel Puig (2018)

 

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NFL rusher Ezekiel Elliott (2017)

 

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Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy (2017)
 
 
Espn body issue joffrey lupul
Hockey player Joffrey Lupul (2013)

 

Espn body issue - bryce harper
Baseball player Bryce Harper (2015)

 

Espn body issue - rob gronkowski
Football player Rob Gronkowski (2012)

 

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Tennis player Stan Wawrinka (2015)

 

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Soccer player Omar Gonzalez (2014)
 
 
Espn body issue - ashton easton decathlete
Decathlete Ashton Eaton (2012)

 

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NBA star Isaiah Thomas (2017)

Shannon Sharpe Dazzles ESPN Viewers With NFL Bombast, Drag Queen Fierceness

Shannon sharpe cropped photo

 

The TV monitor mounted in the kitchen at my workplace is often tuned to ESPN's sports commentary show, Skip & Shannon Undisputed.  The show has drawn my attention because of Shannon Sharpe, a former wide receiver in the NFL Hall of Fame who's one of the show's hosts.  He's quite the "dandy", wearing bold, patterned shirts and vibrantly colored ties and bow ties.  These flashy shirt/tie combinations suit his bombastic persona perfectly.  And although another former NFL star with a broadcast career, Michael Strahan, may be better known, Sharpe is far more telegenic. 

 

Because of his strong facial features (a strong jaw and broad grin), and a confident, dramatic presence, along with a forceful speaking manner, every time I watch Sharpe I think to myself what a fabulous drag queen he'd be.  Give this man some lipstick!  He brings to mind Wesley Snipes' drag queen character in the 1995 film To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.  (And I've always thought that Arsenio Hall would be a natural for drag.)

 

Wesley snipes in To Wong Foo

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 Shannon sharpe 

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 Shannon sharpe

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Gymnastic & Diving Studs Strut Their Stuff at the 2016 US Olympic Trials

Dames 42nd street

 

If you're a gay man you're no doubt familiar with the musical number Dames from 42nd Street (the movie as well as Broadway show), the intro to Follies (Beautiful Girls), even the 'Parade of States' at the beginning of the Miss America pageant, all which feature a bevy of beauties to be ogled.  I thought of this as I watched the US 2016 Olympic trials for Men's Gymnastics and Diving.  I sat transfixed by the parade of hunks as they showed off their talents.  Muscles, handsome faces, nice nipples, sexy armpits. They have it all! 

 

Sam mikulak
Sam Mikulak

 

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Alex Naddour

 

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John Orozco
 
 Danell leyva people mag
Danell Leyva

 

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Steele Johnson

 

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David Boudia

While watching I found it interesting/amusing/annoying how every few minutes NBC's commentators felt compelled to mention that diver David Boudia was recently married and had a child.  Perhaps this is due to the public's perception that divers are gay, especially after the success of openly gay divers Tom Dailey, Matt Mitcham and Greg Louganis and gymnast Lleyva.  But as Freud once said, sometimes a diver is just a straight man. 

 

 David boudia and daughter


Finally, while researching this post I discovered that 17-year-old diver Jordan Windle has two fathers who adopted him as an infant from Cambodia after he was orphaned.  I didn't hear any mention of this during the telecast (of course, it may have been mentioned at the telecast's onset which I missed).

 

Jordan windle and two dads

 

I've previously written posts about gymnast Danell Lleyva and how divers are sexier than swimmers.  

 

 

 

 

   

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HIV Versus CTE: Reflecting On a Double Standard In Compassion

CTE When AIDS was running rampant through the gay male population during the 1980s, the sentiment of the general public and government officials was largely one of "blame the victim" when it came to providing help or attention to those stricken.  "Why spend tax-payers dollars to help individuals who brought the disease on themselves?"; "They deserve what they got"; and "It's God's divine retribution for their immorality" were some of the common, uncaring responses.  Thirty years later I find myself thinking of those homophobic responses when reading about CTE, the degenerative neurological condition some players in the NFL have developed after years of sustaining concussions during games.  Because the affliction affects the world of football, which is arguably the national religion of the US, this condition has generated considerable attention - and compassion.  In contrast to the contempt gay men with AIDS encountered, few with CTE are pilloried for "getting what they deserve".  And, of course, no one would think of pointing fingers at the parents of players who enthusiastically supported their sons' activities since childhood.  I'm not suggesting these players should be shunned or not treated, it's just sobering to witness the contrast in the responses - pariahs vs. fallen heroes.  


New York Mets Embroiled In Another Gay Controversy

 

Daniel.murphy.gaylifestyle

 

Earlier this week (in March 2015) New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy let it be known that he "disagrees" with the gay lifestyle.  This isn't the first time the Mets have been thrust into the glare of controversy over the subject of homosexuality.  In 1999 Atlanta Braves relief pitcher John Rocker made homophobic comments about New Yorkers in an interview in Sports Illustrated.  He confided that he'd never want to play for a New York team because of his experience riding the 7 subway to Shea Stadium, where he found himself sitting next to "some queer with AIDS, a dude next to him who just got out of jail for the fourth time, next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids."  Then in 2002 catcher Mike Piazza called a press conference to dispel rumors that he was gay.  This happened shortly after Mets manager Bobby Valentine said in a magazine interview that he expected a player to come out shortly (we're still waiting).

 

Murphy's comments came after the Mets hired Billy Bean, a ballplayer from the 1990s who's now openly gay, as Major League Baseball's first "ambassador of inclusion".   Specifically, here is what Murphy said:

 

Danielmurphy.mets

 

As I see it, saying that he disagrees with the lifestyle of individuals created by God strongly suggests Murphy questions God's wisdom.  Hardly a trait of someone described as "devout" - unenlightened would be a better descriptor.  I suppose he also "disagrees" with the "lifestyle" of pork eaters; those who mix meat and dairy (e.g., eating a cheeseburger); have sex with a menstruating woman; work on the Sabbath; or who aren't circumcised - all activities proscribed in the Bible.  This brings to mind some of conservative bishops who have voiced dissent over Pope Francis's messages of inclusion.  Since the pope is the conduit of God, shouldn't these apostates be banished?  I'm also reminded of the homophobic teammate in the Broadway drama Take Me Out from the early 2000s.

 

Takemeout

 

I'd like to know what in particular Murphy finds so "disagreeable" about the gay "lifestyle".  Is it singing show tunes, having a love of the arts, dancing ability, our witty repartee and bon mots, possessing good taste?  Perhaps it's the courage to live one's life as it was meant to be and not cower in fear or shame?  Or is Murphy's message an attempt to conceal his own homoerotic desires?  After all, Christians who are in the public eye expressing righteous indignation as a way to provide cover for their own desires have become a cliche. 

 

Although I respect Murphy for saying what he believes I'm a bit disappointed that Billy Bean (pictured below), was so accommodating to him.  (He says he'd like to have further discussions with Murphy in the hopes of "enlightening" him - that reads like a premise for a porn movie to me!)  However, chances are Mets management asked Bean to respond in a conciliatory fashion since they'd rather alienate gay fans than their Christian fan base, which is probably far larger, especially in cities such as Atlanta, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Houston.  But give the Mets credit for hiring Bean in the first place.

 

Billy.bean.newyork.mets 

 

 


Michael Sam - First the NFL, Then the Cover of GQ

Michael.sam.gqNot only does defensive end Michael Sam have the distinction of being the first openly gay player drafted by the National Football League, but later that same year (2014) he became the first openly gay person to appear on the cover of GQ.  In GQ's history there have been a handful of closeted cover subjects (e.g., Rock Hudson, Greg Louganis, Kevin Spacey) and NFL players have been well represented (including Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, Tom Brady, and Tiki Barber), but never before had someone who was openly gay and an NFL member graced its cover until the 24-year-old University of Missouri graduate was chosen for the honor.  And although he, ultimately, was released by two teams and never clocked any playing time, Sam's appearance is still a milestone to salute.  (An honor not bestowed upon openly gay NBA player, Jason Collins, who came out a year before Sam and briefly played for the Brooklyn Nets in 2014 before retiring at the end of the season.)

 

Sam will garner more attention in March when he appears as a contestant on ABC's Dancing with the Stars, becoming the show's third LGBT participant (Lance Bass, Carson Kressley and Chaz Bono were the others).

 


The Low Profile of Gay Games 9 in Cleveland

Gay.games.cleveland.2014A number of years ago I wrote a post about the first Gay Games in San Francisco and in it I made reference to the 2014 Gay Games planned for Cleveland.  However, earlier this week,  I Googled the event to make sure it actually took place because I didn't come across any coverage during the summer.  According to Wikipedia it did take place.  Granted, July and August's headlines were dominated by stories such as ISIS, the downing of the Malaysian jet over Ukraine, the Israeli-Gaza conflict and the overturning of same-sex marriage bans across the US.  However, I was still surprised by the dearth of coverage since the news media always seem to have bandwidth to cover stories with a LGBT angle - but not this one.

 

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Opening ceremonies on August 9

 

Of course, the 10,000 who participated, along with their friends and families  were well aware of the event but their enthusiasm didn't go much beyond northeastern Ohio. (And President Obama addressed the crowd by video at the opening ceremonies.)  It's a pity that a cable network such as LOGO didn't carry some of the Games' events. However, LOGO probably figured it already airs a Gay Games competition of sorts, RuPaul's Drag Race.

 

Perhaps because more and more gay athletes are making their presence known in established sports (e.g., Michael Sam, Jason Collins, Matt Mitcham, Tom Daley, Danell Lleyva, Martina Navratilova, Billy Jean King, Johnny Weir, Darren Young, Sheryl Swopes, Robbie Rogers, to name a few), a conclave of largely unknown gay athletes isn't newsworthy.  Anyway, the Gay Games are more of a jamboree than a bona fide athletic competition since anyone can choose to participate.  Also, there's been confusion ever since a competing World Gay Games began in 2006.

Gay.games.cleveland 

So, in closing, if a Gay Games is held in Cleveland and no one is around to hear about it, does it make a sound?  (Truth be told I don't remember much coverage for past Gay Games either.)  Perhaps the 2018 Gay Games in Paris will have a bit more cachet and attract more attention. 


How Did Gymnasts Danell Leyva & Louis Smith Escape My Attention?

Danell.leyva4I blame it on Tom Daley.  Since I write about gay pop culture and LGBT history l figure I have a pretty good awareness of who the gay personalities are in our midst.  So I was startled to discover that a hot, accomplished US gymnast who I was unfamiliar with was openly gay - and had been for a number of years!  I made this discovery while searching Google Images for two Asian gymnasts whose names I needed because I had featured them a recent post about armpits.  As I scrolled through the pics I kept coming across a really hot gymnast whose name was Danell Leyva.  Wanting to learn more about him I went to his Wikipedia entry where I discovered that not only was he one of the USA's most skilled gymnasts (on the parallel bars), but he's openly gay.  I believe he escaped my attention because during the 2012 Olympics I was so enraptured with British diver Tom Daley that I paid no attention to the gymnastics competition.

 

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It's all his fault.

 

 

Louis.smith.gymnastThen, just as I was regaining my composure, I came across photos of an equally hot gymnast who I was also unfamiliar with, this one from the UK.  His name was Louis Smith; he's three years older than Leyva (25 v 22) and three inches taller (5'10" v 5'7").  He's the product of a Jamaican father and English mother (Leyva is Cuban).  Apparently not gay (or just hasn't come out yet?), he's ingratiated himself with the gay press by doing sexy photo shoots).  Besides medaling at the Beijing and London Olympics (on the pommel horse) he was 2012 champion of Strictly Come Dancing, the UK's version of Dancing with the Stars.  A few years ago, rather than his stylish coif, had a simple buzz cut.  No matter, he's hot either way - or any way.

 

Anyway, better late than never.  As I sat down to choose photos to include here I thought to myself that it might easier to just provide a link to Google Images rather than agonizing over which of the hundreds of tantalizing pics should be selected.  However, martyr that I am, I hunkered down and made the tough choices.  And here are my selections ...

 

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 Louis.smith.gymnast.armpits

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 Louis.smith.gymnast.attitudemag

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Celebrating The Sexiest Part of A Man's Body

Armpit.farmboyIn an episode during the first season of HBO's gay drama Looking, Patrick (played by Jonathan Groff) confides to a friend that he could lick his Hispanic boyfriend's hairy armpits for days.  Friends of mine and I agreed that this was a comment only a gay man could appreciate.  What makes the armpit such a turn-on?  Perhaps it's the animal attraction  created by the pheromones found there.  Or, unlike the pubic hair around a guys cock and balls, we can catch glimpses of armpit hair in public.  Last year I published "Paying Lustful Homage to Hairy Armpits" which was very popular.  Movie sequels are dicey because they often aren't as good as the original, but I'm hoping that's not the case with this post.

 

 

Even though it keeps getting thinner and the page size smaller, you can count on Next Magazine to have good armpit shots, sometimes on the cover or table of contents page.

 

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Next

 

 

We're bombarded with ads for feminine hygiene products and all sorts of medical conditions, yet deodorant/anti-perspirant advertisers are loathe to show a hairy armpit.  That's what makes a current campaign for Kraft Zesty Italian salad dressing so interesting.  Similar to Old Spice, the campaign features a sexy bare chested guy in a towel or swim trunks.  And although he has a smooth chest he prominently displays his hairy armpits. That's fine with me but even I find it a curious juxtaposition.

 

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Speaking of advertising for deodorants, hairy armpits are rarely shown (at least in the US), so this TV ad for Degree Dry Spray for Men is notable - and welcome.

 

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During the 2012 Summer Olympics I wrote about divers being sexier than swimmers because they don't shave as much of their body hair.  Two years later I think gymnasts trump divers because of how their muscled biceps enhance their armpits.

 

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Kohei Uchimura (Japan)

 

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Li Xiaopeng (China)

 

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Max Whitlock (UK)

 

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Louis Smith (UK)

 

Football, basketball and tennis players also have armpits to show off, courtesy of Michael Sam, Brandon Roy and Rafael Nadal.

 

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The ads for gay.com always feature hairy armpits, even if the hair is often clipped.

 

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Here's a nice shot from the 2007 gay-themed movie Shelter.

 

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This photo of Indian actor Ranveer Singh caused some controversy in India, where it's frowned upon for someone of social prominence to expose a hairy armpit.

 

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A typical sexy fashion spread from a 2013 issue of Out Magazine.  And his treasure trail is an added bonus.

 

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Kittens romping all Max Greenfield in a scene from the Fox sitcom The New Girl.

 

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While it's easy to see pit hair at the beach or gym, some of the best sightings are when you catch a glimpse somewhere else.  For example, what I like about this photo is that the armpit is somewhat hidden, showing just a hint of pit hair sticking out.

 

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From the pages of Playgirl back in the late 1980s.  This centerfold was a  fireman from Southern California.

 

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Finally, this sexy shot is of the virginal (and adorable) lead character from the silly 2006 movie simply titled Another Gay Movie.

 

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Gay Bowling: My Life In & Out of the Gutter

 

Gaybowling

 

Since I grew up in Pittsburgh I have bowling in my blood (Pittsburgh is part of the Bowling Crescent which extends up through Akron, Cleveland, Detroit and Toledo).  My parents both bowled in leagues, as did I in high school.  I even took a bowling class in college.  When I moved to New York after college I brought my ball and bag with me and for about three years, between 1981 and 1984, I bowled in a gay bowling league.  Twelve teams met every Tuesday at Bowlmor Lanes on University Place in Greenwich Village (there were also leagues on other nights).  My team was called '1001 Adventures', named after our captain's travel agency.  Besides the captain, Paul Albano, there was also Bo, Ron, Tony and myself (and Bo's twin sister, Linda, served as our alternate).

 

Although it was a fun way to socialize with sixty or seventy gay men,  this activity caused me some strife for a couple of reasons.  First, I had trouble converting spares.  My ball would go beautifully down the center of the lane but all too often one pin was left standing and I'd have trouble converting it into a spare.  This frustrated the hell out of me.  A second source for strife was the cruisy atmosphere, which created some friction between me and my boyfriend Rick (who didn't bowl).  I actually had an affair with one bowler and that precipitated a brief break up a few months after Rick and I moved in together in the spring of 1983.

 

Bowlmor.lanes.university.place

 

Sadly, our team captain succumbed to AIDS complications in 1984.  He was only 43 years old and was the first person I knew to die from the disease.  Another teammate and the two fellows I had dalliances with also died later in the '80s.  Additionally, the elderly night manager of Bowlmor was murdered, beaten to death with a bowling bowl for the money in the cash drawer.  Finally, I became disillusioned when it turned out the president of the league was accused of pocketing our league's dues; because of this dues were being raised.  I quit after the 1984 season and never picked up my ball and bag from the locker.  I haven't bowled since.  (Just one month after writing this post I learned that Bowlmor had closed its doors - after 76 years of operation.  And in early 2016 the entire block was razed.) )

 

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I realize I haven't painted a very rosy picture of my time at the alleys, but it was an interesting experience nonetheless (I particularly liked being scorekeeper).  And it wasn't all angst.  In fact, I won two trophies - for high series during the summer of 1982 and in fall/winter 1983 for rolling the highest score with handicap (236 + 50).  Thinking about it now, perhaps I should give it a second try.

 

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