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arts

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

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Bodybuilding  
 
page: 1  2  3  4  

A 1981 story in Muscle and Fitness indicates that beneath the gazing eye on muscularity other anxieties circulate. For instance, the opening paragraph gushes over the contestants' "regular" femininity. The bodybuilding establishment's nervousness over the "masculine" appearance of female bodybuilders is a continuing issue.

But if femininity is a performance, largely meant for patriarchal and public display, masculinity likewise is no less a scene staged in public--otherwise it loses its point. In this respect, bodybuilding might be said, still, to be sorting out the narcissism inherent in the gendering, not of femininity, but of masculinity.

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Bodybuilding in general asks the question that its actual contests all more-or-less explicitly ask: who is the real man? The gay or lesbian body-builder, then, becomes entangled in the larger cultural panic surrounding the issue of gender.

The history of bodybuilding reflects this panic; to the presumptively heterosexual weight-lifter, "real" women are the threat to the masculine, but in addition, so is the symbolic (i.e., homosexual) woman within. Consequently, in the effeminized discourse most commonly used to stigmatize homosexuality, bodybuilding's status remains that of gender failure--ironically, despite, and perhaps because of, the show of muscularity.

Thus, if muscles, to the Greeks, were a sort of armor, today they signal a kind of gender campery. One critic, clearly straight, whines, "Muscles are the latest props of the dandy." By failing American gender in such a spectacularly butch venue, then, gay bodybuilders such as Paris (and his lover of the time, bodybuilder Rod Jackson), can be said to have demonstrated what women and body-builders have known all along: Gender is something to be performed, in public, for show.

Edward J. Ingebretsen

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arts >> Overview:  Sports: Gay Male

While sports, at least on the major competitive level, may be the final closet for gay men, there have nevertheless been a number of gay male elite athletes.

arts >> Overview:  Sports: Lesbian

Although lesbians and athletics have long been identified with each other, lesbian athletes, despite great achievements, still face numerous obstacles.

arts >> Gay Games

A quadrennial sporting and cultural event designed for the glbtq community, the Gay Games has become a lucrative attraction for host cities.

arts >> Klein, Calvin

American designer Calvin Klein has created an extraordinarily successful fashion empire through his simple and elegant designs and his skilful employment of provocative advertising campaigns that are saturated with homoeroticism.

arts >> Kopay, David

The first American professional athlete to acknowledge his homosexuality publicly, former National Football League player David Kopay stands near the head of the short list of openly gay and lesbian elite athletes.

arts >> Louganis, Greg

Widely regarded as the greatest diver in history, Olympic champion Greg Louganis has acknowledged both his homosexuality and his status as a person living with AIDS.

arts >> Navratilova, Martina

One of the greatest tennis players in history, Martina Navratilova has become an outspoken supporter of gay and lesbian rights.

arts >> Ritts, Herb

Acclaimed for his artistic and insightful images, many of them in black and white, American photographer Herb Ritts infused his work with homoeroticism and "homosexual iconography."

arts >> Weber, Bruce

One of the world's most popular commercial photographers, Bruce Weber has re-envisioned male beauty through his erotic, yet nostalgic take on American adolescence.


    Bibliography
   

Chapman, David L. Sandow the Magnificent. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984.

Dutton, Kenneth R. The Perfectible Body: The Western Ideal of Male Physical Development. New York: Continuum, 1995.

Fussell, Sam. "Bodybuilder Americanus." The Male Body: Features, Destinies, Exposures. Laurence Goldstein, ed. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994. 43-60.

Gaines, Charles. Pumping Iron: The Art and Sport of Bodybuilding. London: Sphere Books, 1977.

Klein, Alan. Little Big Men: Bodybuilding Subculture and Gender Construction. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.

Paris, Bob. Gorilla Suit: My Adventures in Body-building. Los Angeles: Griffin Trade Paperback, 1998.

Ritts, Herb. Duo: Herb Ritts Photographs Bob Paris and Rod Jackson. Los Angeles: Twin Palms Publishers, 1991.

Schwarzenegger, Arnold, with Bill Dobbins.. Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. London: Pelham Books, 1985.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Ingebretsen, Edward J.  
    Entry Title: Bodybuilding  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated December 13, 2005  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/bodybuilding.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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