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Bodybuilding hasn’t always held public attention as a serious affair. While many figures have achieved notoriety and fame through the platform, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and earlier followers like Eugen Sandow, the sport was largely considered unusual and distasteful for the better part of the 20th century, largely because of its ties with the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly, homosexuality.
Sandow was only popular because he won the spotlight as a one-person freak show, displaying an exaggerated physique and super strength to awe audiences for the later parts of the 1890s. However, in the years following the Second World War, bodybuilding was deliberately reinvented to fit a new model. Ruud Stokvis, a sociologist, theorized that world peace and the rising availability of food created a sedentary lifestyle that sparked concerns about well-being in the population. In turn, a fitness craze was born that emphasized outward signs of a healthy body.
That was when bodybuilding first started to gather steam, as it became a sign of well-being for its ardent practitioners.
The History of Bodybuilding and the LGBTQIA+ Community
Gay men had long been distant admirers of bodybuilders and played major roles in advocating for the sport in the capacity of both patrons and practitioners. Before bodybuilding became a full-time gig that paid practitioners to devote themselves to toning their bodies, bodybuilders relied on the goodwill of affluent gay men.
David Johnson, a historian, posits that the ruling of Judge Earl R. Larson, which favored respecting the rights of gay consumers in the 1967 lawsuit against DSI founders Lloyd Spinar and Conrad Germain, was a momentous period for both the LGBTQIA+ community and bodybuilding. It marked the first major judicial victory for the gay community in the United States, which sped up the formation of a national gay commercial movement.
Over in Western Europe and much of North America, the growing gay community helped to popularize the sport after the war. Alan Sinfield, a queer theorist, suggested that muscular men were a huge part of the erotica of homosexuality and a feature prized by the richer and more effeminate gay men. Thus, bodybuilding allowed queer men to build muscle, not got physical exertion or labor, but with underlying sensual motives.
Beyond erotica, though, the bond between the LGBTQIA+ community and bodybuilding was also political. Muscularity was considered a hyperbolic show of masculinity, as opposed to the stereotypical belief that gay men were effeminate. Additionally, after the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic, buff and toned gay bodybuilders were proof that the gay community wasn’t rife with frail and ill men keeling over.
There is no shortage of opinions on the popularity of conventional muscle-building supplements in recent times, especially anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), like the ones found on platforms like Alphapharmcanada.is and others. Nonetheless, supplements have remained a mainstay in bodybuilding, thereby shifting priorities to where bodybuilders get their fix, the types of supplements they use, and the rate of consumption, among other factors.
In the LGBTQIA+ community, where looks are heavily prioritized, many have turned to appearance and performance-enhancing drugs and supplements (APEDS), such as creatine, steroids, and protein supplements for athletic and aesthetic reasons.