Sex talk
Speaking of Muscle Men

Simon Sheppard, QSyndicate.com

There's something about bulging pecs, rippling abs, and thickly muscled thighs that sets many a queer guy's mind on fire. And gets his dick throbbing, to boot.

From merely buff to bombastically bulging, a well-muscled body is the signifier of many things: strength, of course; health; self-respect. And masculinity. Eye-popping, overwhelming masculinity.

We all grew up with ostensibly straight icons of beefy and butch, the older of us with Steve Reeves and gladiator movies, the younger guys with Arnold and The Rock. "Musclemen are like gods to me," says one queer guy with a not-bad body himself. "Always have been, ever since I was a boy. I know it seems superficial, but I want what I want."

Not everyone agrees. Says one man more into "natural" builds, "I admire men with incredible bodies the same way I admire ancient Roman statues of muscular dudes. Sure, they're works of art, but I don't want to go to bed with artwork. And those guys with thighs so developed they waddle just seem ridiculous."

Some men are born with the makings of fine physiques. Others work hard to get big. For some beef fanciers, that work is part of the point. "I lust after fellows who look like they spend a lot of time at the gym," says a cute, slightly chubby guy. "When I see someone who's built and cut, I imagine him lifting free weights, getting all sweaty and intense. Turns me on."

Other queer muscle-lovers are more attracted to an idea of natural, unforced masculinity. They want to believe that the broad-shouldered boy they're cruising got that way through genes or physical labor, rather than hours spent on Cybex weight machines.

And many guys could care less how the muscles got there. Musclemen make their hearts pound and their dicks swell up, and that's that.

However they got that way, ultrahunky dudes project an image of armored perfection. Many antigay stereotypes � "sissy," "weak," "sick with AIDS" � are vanquished by their luscious lats and delightful delts. But just as a willowy-looking boy can be mucho masculine, not every muscleman is as butch as he looks. "When some of the guys who are built like demigods open their mouths, they sound like your basic queen," says an observer of the bodybuilding scene. "And, frankly, that's fine with me. I happen to love guys who are built like semi trucks but turn into big bottoms as soon as they hit the sheets."

Speaking of paradox, it's amusing to note that many of the guys who cultivate muscles as a sign of masculinity shave their body hair � another major male-signifier � so their bulges and curves can be better seen. And let's face it: an average-size dick looks bigger nestled between skinny legs than when framed by thighs the size of Nebraska.

Of course, not every muscleman is attracted to guys as built as himself. What you are isn't necessarily what turns you on, and those of us with less-than-perfect bodies might be chased by men who seem, at first glance, unattainable. Desire is, thank goodness, full of surprises.

One thing's for certain, though. Since the days of those old Roman statues, a V-shaped torso and gorgeous glutes have been markers of masculine beauty, and that - despite the allure of big bears, skinny boys, and the just-average rest of us � is unlikely to change. Many gay guys will continue to cultivate muscles, whether they're health nuts, compensating for something or other, or just like what they see in the mirror. And as long as the quest for quadriceps isn't obsessive or steroid-enhanced, there's not a Thighmastered thing wrong with that.

So hurray for the homo Hercules. Long may he flex!

Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion

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