The Allure Of Steroids

Last week I put together a piece about gay men using steroids/testosterone/etc. and interviewed three men who are either currently on a cycle or have recently been on one.  Their frankness about their reasons and results was enlightening to me and spurred an exploration of steroid use in the larger community around me as well as gave me pause to reflect on my own feelings on enhancing.

As soon as I posted about steroids on my Facebook page, I had a half-dozen friends contact me with concerns:  “Are you considering doing them?” “You don’t need them, you’re beautiful the way you are!” “We’ve all been tempted, but it’s just not worth the risk!” “Are you sure you want to be so open about posting about steroids on your profile?!”  The alarming responses made me realize how much of a stigma steroid use has to the general public…and how some friends are REALLY against using them.  I empathize with these sentiments of “natural and safe are good enough”, but at the same time I realize how much I approve and love a big muscular man.  Do the ends justify the means?

Then I started having friends come to me to share about their own steroid use.  I was stunned by the number of people who have enhanced at some point–young guys wanting more bulk, middle-aged guys finally achieving their long-sought muscle status, older guys juicing up to counterbalance the loss of muscle mass and testosterone that naturally comes with age.  And all of them spoke of their enhancing as a way to improve their look and status within society, often as a reaction to being a fat/skinny/awkward teenager.  They told me about improved confidence, more attention from men, feeling invincible, incredible orgasms, and mostly safely navigating potential side effects and dangers.  Fuck it sounded great!

Suddenly this magical method of becoming a superman seemed so alluring and possible.  My biggest issue was safety and with all my new contacts surely I could find ways to get quality products and keep the risk to a minimum.  Yes, such power could be mine!  I could be a titan of masculinity–a thick, sexual warrior roaring with passion and virility!  All will love me and despair!

And then in that moment of delusional muscle-lust I realized that the pursuit of such a goal was short-sighted and in conflict with my core values.  I felt like Galadriel from Lord of the Rings when she resists the One Ring (zoom ahead to 1:45 for the specific moment) or Luke Skywalker from Star Wars when he throws down his lightsaber after being offered rule of the galaxy via the Dark Side (fast forward to 4:30).  Such power and beauty come at too high a price–in the words of my friend Tony, the surrender to the “image obsessed, body dysmorphic shame culture prevalent in urban gay life.”

I’m no expert about steroids, but I know they can be harmful especially when procured from the usual disreputable ways and used excessively over time.  And even if they were completely safe and didn’t risk heart, liver, and brain damage, the emphasis on obtaining an unrealistic body is harmful to our psyches, our relationships, and our community.  It’s an overindulgence that’s rewarded because we live in a vicious society ruled by desire, shame, and loneliness.  An amazing body would be fun and hot, but it wouldn’t make me a better man, friend, or partner.

Of course we are all on our own journeys in life and I can only decide for myself what’s best.  And even as I write this I know that some of the men I lust after are on enhancements, so how do I navigate my feelings for them?  By desiring them and complimenting them am I enabling harmful behavior?  I’m really not sure, but I hope that as we live and play together as gay men, we can be kind to each other and encourage one another to be the best men we can be without all the emphasis on needing to be supermen.

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6 Responses to The Allure Of Steroids

  1. Pingback: Becoming Superhuman: Gay Men On Steroids | BECOMING MR. EAGLE

  2. Patrick from France says:

    Thank you for your insight & wisdom 🙂

  3. joe says:

    Sorry Justin but I think its absolutely ignorant and such perception exist because we live in a very manipulative country. Who wouldn’t want captain america’s juice lol. I think more science need to be allowed instead of catering to the anti-doping agency and their money making monopoly. Its like saying abortion is dangerous in places where its outlawed. Well the conditions of illegally operated abortion alley will obviously be dangerous in a non professional setting.
    “the emphasis on obtaining an unrealistic body is harmful to our psyches, our relationships, and our community” is ignorant. This is called lighting, photoshop, and marketing. So all the pictures you see is when they just worked out and dieted solely for that shoot, thats a temporary gain in size. No professional can just wakes up and go to a photo shoot, and thats why guys hit the gym before going out. We all pursue unrealistic body image but how much we sacrifice and commit to get there is where the harm lies.

    FYI I was a science major and never took anything. If it was legal and I had the right data I would in a heartbeat. I would love to spend half the time at the gym and eat any shit I wanted. Hell, I think steroids will save this country from exploding obesity. However, if you’re trying to use steroids to go Arnold I think thats pushing the boundaries of healthy and I dont think the evolution of human genetics can yet tolerate sustaining that much mass without consequences like an enlarge heart.

    Im just going by deductive reasoning Im not sure what data has been done. So your heart cell does not divide therefore it cannot repair itself. But I think there was a study claiming that it does but very very little, less than 1% via radio active isotope from the nuclear testing era. However Im skeptical since the heart cell has 2 nuclei and im not sure if it replicated the entire cell or just repairing the nucleus. Average cell has 20x replication or 2000%. Anyways, to maintain that much, your heart does not gain more cell, it can only expand to accomodate the blood flow and pressure. Unfortunately steroid is an association but not necessarily causation, otherwise we could probably refine a better “formula.” I believe a good analogy would be to view your heart and whatever organ thats affected is an engine and testosterone is like putting a 110 octane instead of 91. Its wont damage it if you dont gun it and redline it all the time. But then who wouldn’t be tempted. Only thing that determined the life cycle or wear and tear is your genetics. Fat doesn’t need blood to maintain (obesity) but you deal with blockage.

    I hope you’ve explore enough to understand the boundaries of where “temperance is a virtue.” Dont be fooled by the idea of whether its dangerous or not… its how much is dangerous… how much muscle, or beer, or butter. I think I would die of insanity and stress if I had to give up alcohol to achieve the body I want and eat brown rice and boil chicken. Some people want to live longer, some bigger, or some daring. I think its best not to live with regrets, and the best way to do that is be educated and truly aware of the choices and the consequences you take. Perhaps the best approach is to ask why you need to be superman and is there an alternative. If we are gonna be invaded by superpower aliens then perhaps we have no choice. If you want to get laid then make enough money to rent em, and if you think its to find love, then I think you’re lost and need to find yourself first.

  4. Reblogged this on Healthy Diets Blog and commented:
    Very nice post/blog, make sure to check mine out aswell !

  5. louman says:

    Love the LOTR and Star Wars comparisons… best be very careful about tampering with your hormone levels. I’ve seen friends who cycle down and need long-term testosterone replacement therapy to make up for the fact that their testes no longer produce testosterone.

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