America, a fit, tan, hairless 19-year-old straight boy who
goes by the online name "Weatiez" demonstrates
calisthenics while standing in his bedroom with a
poster of a hot blond topless chick on the wall behind
him. He's the kind of guy I'd furtively steal
glances at in my high school locker room, afraid of
getting beat up if I stared too long.
In most of
Weatiez's videos, an aggressive rap song plays as he
faces the camera then starts flexing his biceps and
bouncing around, staring at me with an unsettling
mixture of hostility and desire. His appealing,
slightly disturbing performance of bodybuilder and rapper
poses is one of several Weatiez has posted on
YouTube.com, an online video clearinghouse where as
many as 43,000 viewers--mostly male--have
watched his impromptu shenanigans since he started
broadcasting them in April.
Weatiez is far
from alone. For whatever reason, young guys who list
themselves as straight have decided to display their
chiseled physiques on YouTube. They're building
a very large gay male fan base while creating a new
forum for the ever-changing dialogue between gay and
As recently as a
year ago, this kind of dynamic for exhibitionism and
voyeurism was unheard-of. But YouTube changed all that.
After the now-famous Saturday Night Live clip
"Lazy Sunday" appeared on the site last
December (in which an unknown male duo did a gangsta-rap
parody about "the
chronic--what!--cles of Narnia"), the
site skyrocketed in popularity, and soon people of all
ages and persuasions started posting videos of
themselves. When I contacted YouTube for this story, their
representative declined, citing an "unbelievable
amount of interest" in the company.
Weatiez while surfing YouTube and come across a video in
which he stands in what looks like a basement, his
brown skin contrasting against the white wall behind
him. A bare fluorescent bulb is affixed to the
ceiling. Wearing a white T-shirt, Weatiez suddenly rips it
off his body, WWE style.
Weatiez's videos offer a surprisingly intimate
glimpse of the kind of rough-and-tumble jock many gay
men, myself included, obsessed over in high school.
And judging from the comments posted on this young
man's YouTube profile, many gay men still hold that
adolescent fixation. "A ha cool video,"
writes "noffin1" about another Weatiez bedroom
creation. "Nice with the hat flying onto the
head...a bit risky having the pants so low they
are almost showing the ood stuff."
The fact that gay
men are ogling his hot bod doesn't concern Weatiez.
"Yeah, I'm aware of it, but it does not bother
me," he says via e-mail. "I'm
comfortable with that because I know working out will give
me a great body, and I know that will get attention,
both female and male."
Weatiez is not
the only young straight man posting such personal videos
of himself on YouTube to the immense gratitude of gay men
everywhere. Shane Jessuran, who goes by
"Shanejj" on YouTube, is a 19-year-old
originally from Suriname in South America who is now living
in St. Petersburg, Fla. With a chest the size of a
beer keg, he recently started posting videos of
himself on YouTube, charting his progress as he pumps
iron. About half the comments posted on his videos are from
bodybuilders giving him encouragement; the other half
are men telling him how sexy he is. He flexes
provocatively in his dark bedroom wearing only a pair of
gray Polo boxer briefs that he constantly adjusts, running
his hands over his obliques.
Shanejj says he
doesn't care that more than half his viewers are gay
men. "It doesn't really matter to
me--I'm actually intrigued that gay guys
respond to it," he says. "It's on my
profile that I'm straight, and if guys ask if I
would go that way, I just say, 'No, but thanks for
thinking of me.' " It's just
about the attention, he explains. "Most of the guys
posting aren't average guys--they're
into their appearance, their clothes, their grooming.
They shave; I shave. It's more a metrosexual thing,
and in that way I think we have something in common
with gay guys. So when I get attention from them, I
like it. It confirms that I'm doing it right."
One such online
admirer is Tommy, 23, a recent college graduate and
bartender in Miami who goes by the name
"Hotjokstud." "These straight
guys love the attention--they really do," he
says. "I'm constantly posting flirty
comments, praising them for their bodies and telling them
they should show more--and sometimes they
do." All it took was his suggestion to
"FuSoYa999," a youthful
flexer from northwest Georgia, that he should pose in a
Speedo, and a video of him in said attire was up three days
later. The comments were euphoric. "Men are
dogs," Tommy says with a laugh. "Gay or
straight, they all love getting their egos stroked, and
it's fun to see how far you can go with
Matt, a 30-year-old retail worker from Durham, N.C.,
maintains a blog called DudeTube where he regularly posts
videos of hot straight guys. "Guys showing off
has always been a part of gym culture," he
says. "The Internet just provides a way to do it
anonymously--or not so anonymously--and
get some feedback. It's a way for straight guys to
put themselves out there safely and to get attention
without many repercussions."
Matt has come to
know some of these guys in the course of posting their
videos on his site, and he says they're "so
friendly about it. When I post stuff of theirs,
it's not 'Hey, fag, stop looking at my
ass,' but it's like, 'Thanks,
I'm straight but that's cool.'
They're really, really nice about it."
male-on-male voyeurism is hardly novel. It's just
that YouTube has provided a new venue for it.
"It's nothing new for straight guys to
get attention from gay guys--or other straight
guys," says Cyd Zeigler Jr., cofounder of
Outsports.com, where many a picture of hot, straight
athletes can be found. "Athletes in our culture are
put on a pedestal and they like that: being worshiped.
And one of the things they're worshiped for is
their physique. When they get that praise from other men, it
just massages their egos more."
But even in the
vaporous, amorphous world of the Internet, maybe that
worship can go too far. Weatiez stopped responding to my
e-mails soon after I contacted him. He was the first
self-made flexing star I approached for this piece,
and while I have no way of really knowing what
happened, I can only assume that our communication must have
crossed that invisible variable line between
"flattering" and "threatening."
My questions must have been too much for his
straight-jock comfort zone.
As much as the
Internet can bridge the divide between a gay man in New
York City and an anonymous straight stud in suburban
America, it can also be a harsh reminder of how much
space still exists between us. At the end of the day,
you're still sitting alone in your bedroom, lusting
after the same boys who were so unavailable as a
teenager. That disinterested roughneck is still out of