Bias? Genes? I’m Not Sure…

This post is a bit of a soul searcher. Tune out now rather than be offended!

A recent comment on quite an old post makes me think. Am I biassed against posting images of guys whose skin color is other than white? Not intentionally. I could argue that in that wide wide web of posted images, a huge majority are indeed of white guys.

bookshelf

So here’s an interesting image. I did NOT crop this, but there is (most of) a guy missing at the top. Just arms are visible – colored arms. So why is the picture cropped in this way? Accident on the part of the photographer? Or someone ‘getting rid’ of a part of the image they preferred not to post (this arrived to me, in this form, in a Yahoo Group post this week).

So, will try to do better. Certainly we’ve nothing against dark skin – nor have the countless hordes (like us) who choose to bask in the sun each summer…

bronze-surfer

bronze

No ‘fake tan’ for us any more (not sure about that last guy though) – but should we confess to using sun beds to ‘top up’? Yes, we should, when we are going to perform. We feel (for whatever reason) that, as a group, we should all look about ‘the same’ when stripped down to our performing briefs. Why should that worry us? Does it worry an audience? I don’t know, but one colored guy in a troupe of white acrobats stands out just as one white guy in a troupe of black acrobats would stand out. I’m not saying either is wrong, and there are plenty instances out there (for example the top photo) where it happens.

Most groups however (and wherever) look like this:

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I’ve really struggled to find a picture which doesn’t do that, but here’s one – ONE guy only – in a group of 12 friends:

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A group of buds from an eastern European country – not sure which – or possibly Denmark – never mind: one dark-skinned guy out of twelve, but fitting in fine to the group – I think they are soccer players. When I collected that picture I captioned it ‘five out of twelve’ because I was focussed on the thing that my own genes drive me to think about – the shirtless guys! My brain wants to search out physically fit guys – I’m gay, so that makes sense. I will honestly admit that I admire muscle in ANY guy of any skin color – but I think that I am not physically attracted to something about our African American and related colleagues – I’m being brutally honest here if I say it may be facial features.

My genes are saying that, not my mind/body/spirit (to coin a genre phrase): we absolutely love having Theo and Errol in the teens fitness gang, and some of my best gymnasts (in my professional capacity) are African-American. Could I fall in love with an African American? – its OK, Dave – I doubt it very much.

I’ve written many times about our disquiet with the ‘white supremacy’ attitude of the founder of our private gym, which is finally changing for the better. But when I look through my collection of gym images, what do I find? Almost 100% white guys:

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All of this soul-searching brings to mind another drum to bang.

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You can’t fault that, can you? And you can’t tell which  of the three is the gay student. I have to applaud the younger generation for their increased tolerance and understanding compared with my generation (and certainly the next older one!). Just in case you’re curious, the school concerned is in Ireland.

Gay guys are fortunate. Unless they choose to ‘feminise’ themselves – and sure, some do – you cannot single out a gay guy just by looking. Contrast that with the Af-Am ethnicity and skin color. And remember, we are living in Tennessee where memories of slavery are still very powerful, and redneck attitudes seem to prevail still.

12795358_1168289306549879_2836090684282253149_nAnd so, just to lighten things a little (right), some girls who find they are chatting up a guy who turns out to be gay can get somewhat pissed off!

So having searched all my fitness image files destined for this blog and found almost no Af-Am guys featured, all I can say is: will try to do better. After all, if I expect the world to understand us gay guys, and to accept us, the least I can do… etc. etc.

A final thought, before someone asks. Do my books include other ethnicities other than white Caucasian male? The answer is yes, but the only examples who have pivotal roles in the books are Chinese or Latino… both, incidentally, having been welcomed into the private gym under the previous and current management.

You can check for yourselves.

Loving the Boy: ISBN 978-1-907732-30-0

The Power of Love: ISBN 978-1-907732-41-6

Against All Odds: ISBN 978-1-908645-35-7

My next book, Let The Future Find Me, which is currently under consideration for publication, features two Native Americans: in a small, way, perhaps I am doing my bit but, as I freely admit in response to that very ‘on-the-ball’ comment, ‘could do better’.

I will now shut up and just post a few more images of fitness inspiration, illustrated by the inevitable white Caucasian male, but the message about the desirability of a fit body is available to all.

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at-golds-gym

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Re-reading this, maybe I’ve been a bit too frank. Lord only knows what the comments are going to say…

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. Currently finishing off our 'story', after we got a publisher interested: that's the story 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! Actually, waiting for the imminent arrival of the first printed copies was far scarier than anything we do in performance. And now Volume 1 is out - and effectively outing US - the really scary bit will be if anyone actually buys one and reads it...
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One Response to Bias? Genes? I’m Not Sure…

  1. Platinumboy says:

    If you are interested in including images of fit black men, maybe the Bob Mizer Foundation website would be a good source. Mapplethorpe also photographed black men. Interestingly, Mapplethorpe also included a photo of an incredibly fit man, apparently in his twenties, who experienced a below the knee amputation. Surprisingly, if the photo is cropped to hide the amputation, that man would look as good as anyone else you have featured. I’m not saying you should use any of these sources, but they are available. I guess part of the “problem” (for lack of a better term) is that each of us is attracted only to certain features. Not everybody is attracted to the same set of features and none of us should be criticized for our personal tastes with regard to physical attractiveness. As long as we don’t put down those whom we don’t find attractive, our tastes are our own and the same goes for everyone else. Don’t worry.

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