In Defense of Pecs

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Muscle BoysMuscle Boys:  Gay Gym Culture
by Erick Alvarez
Harrington Park Press.  304 pages, $19.95

 

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Alvarez’ study leads him to distinguish six different, overlapping categories of gay gym users: HIV-positive men or “poz jocks”; athletes; circuit boys; muscle bears; older males (over forty!); and a miscellaneous group of “regular guys” who don’t identify with any group—these are the “muscle boys.” Actually—and a bit confusingly—this is also the umbrella name for all men who participate in gay gym culture, which points to one of this book’s problems. Granted, many adult men, both straight and gay, refer to themselves and their peers as “boys,” but Alvarez adopts this usage uncritically, even though his subjects include men in their sixties and seventies, and he himself warns against the isolating effects of ageism in the gay community.

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