Author: Dhanush Sheety, OUTAthlete Class 2023

I’ve always felt like I’m part of two different worlds. One is the gay world where I’m watching Drag Race in San Francisco’s Castro District. Another world is with my Indian family where we eat masala dosa and biryani as often as possible. There’s always been some tension between these cultures. My gay friends don’t really get Indian culture and my Indian friends don’t really get gay culture. All of this, I reconciled at the gym. 

Like most queer people, the gym felt like an inaccessible space for me. On top of this, I believed the stereotype that Indian people are great Math-letes not great Athletes. I used to focus on my math skill, being a TA for discrete math in college and getting a degree in computer science. Always afraid to lift weights and get strong.

Being gaysian at the gym is really impossible to describe. Gay men in San Francisco take pride in the way they look and this is what encouraged me to go to the gym. Every queer person I know is jacked or does 5 sports. On the other hand, once I started working out my Indian perceptive informed my gym routine. My nutrition integrates chicken tikka and biryani (shout out to Mike Molly from M2Nutririton btw). I use Tiger Balm, a traditional Asian medicine when I’m feeling sore. I do yoga and stretch every day to warm up. 

But being an OUTAthelete changed this for me. Here, my two conflicting identities made me something bigger than either one could.  I started working out at United Barbell. I started lifting heavy weights. I deadlift 325 lbs last month. and didn’t even know that was possible for me. OUT helped me redefine my relationship with the gym. United Barbell is an inclusive environment where the key focus is just getting strong. It’s given me an appreciation for building a healthier lifestyle. 

Since it’s AAPI Month, I need to thank you Asian community for everything we are doing together. There is a real sort of community for people like us even though we are many cultures and diasporas. For example, the movie Everything Everywhere All At Once really helped me. Its the old laundry mat owner lady who feels like she’s living a dead-end life. She looks through multiple alternative worlds and we learn that she contains multitudes. This showed me how an Asian person can have multitudes within them. Not being longer holed as one thing. This was so relatable. It’s a very Asian sentiment to be many many things as one individual. 

AAPI people are still discriminated against and harassed on a large scale. Joel Kim Booster shows how this happens to gaysians in particular. In his movie fire island, he shows how Asian gays are often excluded from gay spaces. Joel says “These spaces were made for rich, white, attractive men.” Gay spaces were traditionally white and exclusionary and this sentiment is still very strong today. Asian men face lots of sexual racism and this is a double whammy in gay spaces. Its a lot that every gay Asian man deals with. I try to deal with this by working out at the gym. The gym really became my safe space against the daily racism of some gay spaces. 

But Like the movie Everything Everywhere All At Once, I have multitudes within me. I’m gay, I’m Asian, and I love to lift weights. 



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