By Buddy Early, March 2020 Issue.

When I was in my 20s and early 30s, I suppose I was a bit of a barfly.

You could’ve found me in any one of a half-dozen watering holes somewhere

between two and five nights a week. I didn’t always drink a lot when I was out,

but I enjoyed being in community spaces where I could be my authentic self,

instead of at home watching Law & Order reruns … like I do now. So,

there I was: at Wink’s, Roscoes, Padlock, or Charlie’s, spending money that

might’ve gone toward repayment of a student loan or on a car that didn’t make a

weird thud every time I made a right turn.

Some pretty inappropriate things went on

in gay bars of yesteryear. I’m not too much of a prude to admit I once

rendezvoused in the bathroom at Wink’s. Before Charlie’s expansion, you

couldn’t walk from one side of the crowded bar to the other without having some

part of your body groped at least twice. And – let’s be honest – none of us

went to Padlock unless we wanted to do some stuff or see some stuff.

Damn

me for saying this, but I miss it. Not the bar-flying and drinking, but the

inappropriate behavior. I know I am at risk of being canceled by the culture

for stating this, but I wish more people would grab my butt.

When I came out, I was impressed with a

social scene that had few identifiable boundaries on sex, where people were

blatant in their quest to simply get laid. This was refreshing. For a young man

who had suppressed all sexual desire and activity for 25 years, I liked being

viewed as a sex object and did not mind if someone only saw me as a piece of

meat.

This may sound odd coming from me,

especially if you remember my column last summer in which I divulged I had been

celibate for five years. And if this reads like I am proposing we all go around

grabbing people’s butts, nothing could be further from the truth.

But I wouldn’t mind if someone grabbed my

butt.

Some years ago, a female friend was

pumping gas at a north Phoenix gas station when a complete stranger walked past

and slapped her on the rear end. This friend – close to my age – had very

clearly had enough of this nonsense and decided to take a stand right then and

there. She summoned the police, who arrived minutes later and arrested the man.

I applauded my friend then and I still do.

It goes without saying that she has endured much more in life than me, at least

as far as inappropriate sexual conduct is concerned. The circumstances of that

butt slap and the stakes involved were much greater than anything I’ve faced.

Her stand on that day was for all women who, for most of their lives, have had

to put up with shit like randos slapping their butt, rubbing their back,

placing a hand on their knee and stroking with one finger in that way that

makes you want to shed your skin, and worse.

I guess that’s the conundrum we face in

2020. How do you know what someone’s threshold is? Can you predict whether

someone likes to have their butt grabbed? You really can’t. which is precisely

the point. It’s probably best to assume most people are not thirsty like me and

are not OK with that kind of butt attention.

(Let me be clear: it was a nice butt.

Perky and round. It was very grabbable. These days I have a “last call butt” at

best and I’ve come to terms with that.)

Again, maintaining my current celibacy

doesn’t make me a prude, and wanting my butt grabbed doesn’t make me a

hypocrite. Rather, these things demonstrate how I am in control of my sexual

desires and behavior, and I can say no (or yes!) to someone who might ask me

for sex. (I do it all the time on a “dating” app called Scruff.) A person bold

enough to, as we used to say, “put the moves on me,” does not require me to be

triggered.  A sexual advance does not

necessarily equate to harassment and assault.

Sexual freedom is something so many of us

and the generations before us have been fighting for. If we’re not careful we

might go down the path of the puritanical society we’ve warned against: a

country where merely expressing our sexual longings and intent is shameful, and

where getting laid is immoral.

I’m not saying grab my butt when you see me out. But I probably won’t call the police on you, either.


Photo courtesy of Michael Feinstein.

Michael Feinstein


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Gilles Toucas

Michael Feinstein will commemorate Judy Garland’s life on March 20 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.


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I think it’s fair to say we all want that #fitlife, especially with Spring around the corner — as well as Gaypril on the way. Whether it’s pool season yet or not, everyone would choose to look fit over not looking fit, if they could have it with a snap of their fingers. OK, the vast majority of us would.

If you’ve met me, or have been reading my articles, you know that I live, sleep, eat and breathe fitness; it’s my heart and soul. That being said, I’m here to tell you that the concept of “fitness” is oftentimes tragically misunderstood.

Before you get too aggressive with your goal for pool season, let’s dive a bit deeper into what fitness means on the inside versus what it looks like on the outside, and common misconceptions around this concept.

1. Beware of the cultural pitfalls and misleading information around fitness.

Most of the bodies you see in the media are probably not real, they just look very convincing. As a trainer who also moonlights as a photographer and Photoshop wizard, I’m telling you that it is incredibly easy to alter pictures in materially misleading ways. Once you know the tricks of the trade, the imposters are easily spotted. But that’s not what this is about.

The point is: to the untrained eye, it can be devastatingly defeating to see such impossible standards. It seems as though the cultural pressure to look a certain way, to look perfect, has spread all the way from runway models to fitness novices with the help of smartphone apps.

The truth is that we fitness models look that cut, and that lean for only a couple days at a time. That’s it! In many cases, months or even close to a year of training, dieting and programming all go into looking like that for ONE day. Let that sink in for a second. Day to day, I am less cut, less tan and much flatter muscularly than what you see in some of my pictures. That’s just the nature of the beast. So, when you have a bad day on the scale, in the mirror or in any other scenario, remember that we’re all human and that the most legitimate photos you’re comparing yourself against were from someone’s very best day. That should help to keep things in perspective.

2. Most people want the results, without actually doing the work.

Fitness is not six pack abs, it’s not superficial, it is not temporary and it’s not an isolated phase in your life. Further, fitness is not something you do for someone else, do to spite someone else or even to impress someone else.

Fitness is confidence, toughness, dedication, coordination, power, balance, speed, strength (both literally and figuratively) and persistence in the face of all obstacles. This includes control over your attitude, your mood, your sleep, your schedule, your diet and other aspects of your life. This means getting that workout in when you least feel like it.

It’s not easy, and it’s definitely a grind that has good and bad days. You must show up and keep working on the days you’re tired, stressed, rushed, defeated, doubtful, afraid and so on. The days you actually have to overcome something instead of just checking your workout off your to-do list are the days you have the greatest opportunity to really make progress, push your body and see the most improvement.

3. Fitness is really an internal mindset. The external physique is the fringe benefit.

I’ve said this time and time again, and it might sound strange coming from such an aesthetic-focused trainer, but you are not your body. Your body is a tool, it’s a means to an end, to express your internal mindset, belief system, discipline and dedication to your workout program. Your physique will come and go. Your strength will come and go. Your abilities will wax and wane depending on what you’re training for at the time.

The outside will, and should, be always changing, but the inside is what we’re really after here. Good trainers want to train you to believe in yourself when sh*t gets hard. We want to train you to be resilient in the face of injury, obstacles and other setbacks. We want you to set ambitious goals and shoot for the moon because you can get there with smart programming and relentless will (do yourself a favor and ditch the crash diets and the photo editing software).

So, as you make your spring preparations for swimsuit season, try focusing on developing a sterling, unshakeable internal character and the muscles will come along the way, this I promise you.

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