I got my first Speedo. At 42, I finally bought one. I know what you’re probably thinking, big deal, right? That, or “Baby’s First Speedo” sounds like a really bad gay children’s book that should never be. But for me this is sort of a big deal. I’ve just really never dared to wear one.
A couple of things brought this on. First, I’m off to France next month. And once there, beach bound, where I assume it will be all Speedos, all the time. And I certainly don’t want to look like a prudish American. That, and I’ve been working out really hard (for me, like really hard) since March. Seeing a trainer and a nutritionist, I figured, why not shake it a little, right? Go big, or go home, I was told. Frankly, for me, faced with that choice I usually went home.
So I got my first Speedo. Then my second Speedo. A simple navy, then a solid green. Nothing flashy. And again, why not? I’m a somewhat cultured gay who follows other gays on Instagram, other gays and pages like Architectural Digest. So that makes my feed nothing but Speedo, Speedo, the cottages of Newport, Speedo, Speedo, Speedo, midcentury modern Palm Springs. The whole thing just wants me to marry rich and buy more Speedos. And I realize this is the summer. Will this trend continue in the fall and winter? Knowing gays, yes probably.
What am I getting at here? I’m trying to be more body positive these days. I’m drawing some inspiration from some of my social media favorites — comedian and host of “Nailed It” Nicole Byer, singer Lizzo, and, of course, Jonathan Van Ness of “Queer Eye.” All three of these folks project a fairly healthy image of themselves. And that’s important to see. For gay men, who often champion diversity, it’s no real shock to anyone that we aren’t treated to a great deal of diversity in body types and how we’re represented in media, and then how we represent ourselves in social media.
So, drawing inspiration from Van Ness and the like, I ventured out into social media in my Speedo. I’ve been dipping my toes in the water with the Speedo look, so to speak, at the pool. So, I felt a little emboldened and I posted a snapshot, a before-and-after, of a fatter me, next to me in a Speedo on Instagram (shameless plug, BrockinDC). The response was, in a word, mixed. Most folks were pretty affirming. Cheering it on, posting little flame emojis, that sort of thing. But, on the other hand, I got fair amount of, ‘that’s not your brand.’ So much of that that anxiety took hold and I jerked the picture down the next morning.
But to the whole ‘that’s not your brand’ crowd out there, I have to say, that was the whole point. You have to challenge yourself, get to know yourself better. Our great gay Oscar Wilde said that’s essentially the prime goal of life — self development. So, I guess you can buy an older dog a new Speedo. And while I ventured out of my comfort zone for just a second and in one post on social media, I heard the flak and am moving on.
And I know what you might be thinking. If this is a real problem of gays using social media to promote uniform body types, why are you joining in? Well, a girl’s gotta work, right? And it’s something I want to do. So stay tuned for some Speedo pics from France. Whether you like it or not.
Brock Thompson is a D.C.-based writer. He contributes regularly to the Blade.