Not Compulsory.

I follow a wide range of people on social media; either through Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat (@tedburr on each of them if you want to follow me), and there are some very strange patterns to people’s behaviours. Whilst my own behaviour tends to be complaining about having to work stupid hours or on days when I really wish I didn’t have to, others seem more concerned about putting one another down, whether or not it is intentional.

Now, I have talked fairly frequently about body image issues, and how it’s not all about women, and how it’s not all about being “fat”. I follow a lot of people who share my views, some opposed to them and some who seem to unwittingly put the rest of us down. Gym posts are fairly common, and that’s good. If you can find the time to go to the gym, then I am truly happy for you. I often can’t, nor can I form a routine because my shifts at work don’t follow a pattern; and if you don’t tell me to go to a gym, I won’t tell you to stop.

The one thing that grinds my gears though, and this is in no way directed at one single person, or one specific event, but the one thing that really annoys me is saying that being registered to a gym is compulsory…for a gay man.

Hold up. Wait a minute. No.

Whilst I have toyed with the idea of joining a gym, again, my daily routines do not allow me to fully use a membership, which are rarely cheap for a decent gym. I am a gay man, and I don’t feel obliged to go to a gym. If I feel like working out, I have some equipment at home, and there are other ways to get your fix of physical activity. Don’t tell me it is compulsory to my queerness to have a gym membership.

Nowhere, in any written documentation about my sexuality does it say “to be gay, you must have a gym membership”, it is ridiculous, and rarely used in a sarcastic manner. What is good for you, isn’t necessarily good for me.

A gym membership is not compulsory. What is the deciding factor behind my sexuality is that I am attracted to men, more so than women. That it. That’s the compulsory part to being a gay man. Tweeting or writing that having a gym membership is part of being gay is somewhat damaging. Now, this may be a bit “snowflake” like, but I don’t particularly care: the point of our community is that we are accepting and diverse.

The thing that makes me laugh more though, is that these people who write such ludicrous statements, where harping on about Ku Bar seemingly having a less diverse advertisement being run in which not every body type was present. Yet the whole point of a gym is usually to improve or maintain fitness. How does this logic work?

Missing a day at the gym is also not the end of the world unless you’ve become obsessed with your body image, and that isn’t something I will ever put or play down. The pressures we face are real, and have a deciding factor in which social circles you will revolve in because the community is essentially the real life Mean Girls plot.

Gym bunnies are great, I love someone who can look after themselves, and I don’t even mind gym selfies, I will like them because that’s just a bit of support for someone who I may or may not know has body image issues. I am in no way saying that going to the gym makes you more or less of a person, it just makes you a person with a hobby or interest in your own health. Exercise is a great form of therapy for many. But do not, and please refrain from saying, that having a gym membership is compulsory. It isn’t. I don’t have one, yet I can work out on my cross trainer, using my dumbbells and barbell, as well as get out on my bike or simply go for a walk. It may not be guided by a personal trainer, but hey, a few years ago I got into shape just doing the basics and I still didn’t have a gym membership then either.


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