Shirtless Camaraderie

Thought for the day:

“The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love heterosexuals. It’s just that they need more supervision.” – Lynn Lavner

48 days to publication of the first part of our epic… and counting! Arrrgh! Why do I start to wish I had never started this beast, which is now unstoppable? Maybe this quote will at least help to justify the gay content. Let’s hope so.

I found these words of wisdom posted on a forum which celebrates (amongst other things) male shirtlessness. I’m not sure if one should automatically associate shirtlessness in men with homosexuality – I never have – but for some reason, especially in the States, there seems to be a toughening attitude against public shirtlessness. As an acrobat whose group tends to work half naked, I find that to be a disturbing trend. There are two reasons why guys like us want to be shirtless: the first is to show off some good bodies that we are proud of, and maintain good tans, and the second (a professional point) is that high-intensity acrobatic performances are sweaty and exhausting, clothes get in the way and can inhibit movement, and skin-on-skin contact between performers (using chalk as needed) is actually safer in balancing feats and so forth than working through layers of clothing, which can slide around.

This has all come to mind because next week Dave and I, the girls and the kids are due to fly back to the States and join up with the rest of the current performing crew for some gigs on Long Island NY. And yesterday, on the same shirtless forum, there was a thread saying that the authorities in South Hampton, Long Island, have an ordinance against men appearing shirtless in the town which has been tested and upheld in the courts in the city of New York. OMG, what are things coming to next? The place is a sea-side resort, for heaven’s sake. An up-market one, granted, but isn’t this just plain stupid? Well, thank goodness, we shall not actually be in South Hampton, but we shall be working not that far away. Let’s just hope that the ordinance doesn’t apply to stage performers. I’ll try to let you know if we end up in gaol.

Consider this picture:

I took this a couple of years ago at a gym in Vienna, at the end of a friendly competition between teams from different regions of Austria where I know some of the trainers and some of the gymnasts. The meet is over, and the boys gather to discuss their day. Immediately, half the tops come off (well, leotards pushed down), and it didn’t take long after before most of the rest followed. It’s comfortable, it’s friendly, and the camaraderie and respect for each other across the teams was very obvious. There are very few male gymnasts who choose to train in a shirt, unless their gym is particularly cold, yet the formal dress is demanded for the competition. Maybe time for a review! Take some lessons from the majority of professional acrobatic performers!

Sorry if this seems like a rant, but Dave and I do get steamed up about it – not least because of the trouble that was caused when Leo turned up shirtless at the home of a stuffy neighbour back in Tennessee and the guy started ‘blaming’ it all on his gay parents before ‘banning’ his son from seeing Leo (I wrote about this earlier, and the ban was totally ineffective anyway because of the friendship between the boys). One place in the States where you do see guys going happily shirtless is at parties and at gatherings in private homes or dorms. It seems to begin at high-school  age and continues into college and especially in fraternaties:

Also in gyms, where again my experience is that anyone there will offer help to anyone else if asked, and no-on goes around ‘rubbishing’ other guys’ progress:

And just chillin’, although here I would be rather surprised if anyone did swim in a shirt (although there is a trend for that, too – yes, in the wonderful USA again, apparently (got it from the same web forum!)):

Excuse the rather ‘podgy’ girl at the back of the group – just hope she managed to jump clear of the rocks!

We’ve a little more of this to do ourselves here in Wales before we leave, and this week my parents are with us. They gave up on me, loafing around barefoot and shirtless, years ago, and happily accept the rest of us doing the same, although we are being a little discreet in our training barn, just in case my mother chooses to wander in. Heigh Ho!

CAMARADERIE: “Mutual trust and sociability of comrades” says an old dictionary we found in a cupboard. I think that sums up perfectly just about everything about our private and professional lives – ‘live and let live’ also comes to mind (especially with the misery father down the street in Oak Ridge!). Life with a gay partner, life in a gym club, life as a professional performer, Chad’s wonderful group in Tennessee… it’s all covered by that one word. It has served us well, and it is so much what these flipping books are going to be about, too.

About tonycavanagh

Born Northampton UK; school Oxford UK and Oak Ridge Tennessee, where I met my wonderful partner Dave, also from UK. Oak Ridge is our main training base for acrobatics and circus stuff, but we also established a base in Wales (UK) to serve us when we are working in Europe. Our 'story', of finding gay love, learning the acrobatics trade and then of how we got shot at during our show (and worse was to follow - just to prove that the risks of being an acrobat are not always the most obvious ones!) are now available in my three books 'Loving the Boy', 'The Power of Love' and 'Against All Odds'. Links available on most blog posts. Actually, waiting for the imminent arrival of the first printed copies was far scarier than anything we do in performance. A fourth book - not about us but exploring the sadness of a gay Native American boy denied his true identity - is currently with an agent for evaluation. watch for 'Let The Future Find Me' in due time. And now to book five... another boy, another quest... seems its always boys...
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2 Responses to Shirtless Camaraderie

  1. Robin Vanags says:

    Well expressed – I am in full agreement with you. Regards from Somerset UK

    • tonycavanagh says:

      This welcome comment on a post over 5 years old kind of took me surprise! I had to check what the subject was. Anyway, welcome, Robin: hope you enjoy some of the rest!

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