I had my first meeting with my personal trainer, a very fit young man who said, "yes, sir" and "no, sir" to everything I asked him. We met briefly to discuss my "fitness objectives." I felt like a shy high school girl crossed with someone's totally uncool dad. I know, scary. The trainers at the U.T. gym are studying to become certified. They're inexperienced, but inexpensive.
I have one fitness objective, which is basically, "yes." We scheduled two sessions next week. I can't wait to start. He told me I should see and feel different in as little as six weeks, since I'm starting pretty much at zero. He looked me over and said that he thought I was starting with a "good foundation." No one has ever told me that before. (I think he meant, "At least it's not like you're 350 pounds and asthmatic.")
Since I first mentioned that I was going to start working out at the gym and that I'm a little frightened of it, many of my gay men friends -- as well as readers of this blog, guys I don't even know -- have expressed sympathy and support. It's funny, and I've been very moved by it; I never thought of this step in the terms I'm starting to see it in now, as a reclaiming of territory that was denied me as a kid. Denied to me partly by other boys because they were cruel, were bullies, but I think mostly self-denied because of my confusion and discomfort with an environment where there was obligatory intimacy with other boys in the form of physical contact and nudity.
The sad thing is that an environment of natural intimacy among men would have been such a healthy thing for a little gay boy. I feel a great sadness and regret sometimes that I missed all that. For me, the first -- and only for many years -- situation in which it was appropriate or even possible to touch or be touched by boys or men was when having sex.
That idea of reclaiming male space is obvious now, because I'm staking a claim in this particular gym which is full of boys just barely out of high school who are masculine and athletic and, at least apparently, sexually confident, just like the boys I was afraid of 30 years ago. But now, because I'm as old as their parents, to these boys I'm either invisible or I'm an authority figure.