By Kwanele Finch Thusi
Before I went to the nude bar, I went to the gym first – as usual it was full. I waited at the reception as I updated my account because I know that the bastards will take my money again like they have been doing for the past two months. Anyway, I was taking my time and I walked briskly, almost like I wanted to be seen. I looked forwards, shyly, as I got to the changing room.
Locker 18 was empty. I changed into my clothes and put my towel on my shoulder. I started with the bench press; a boy was there, he looked young and innocent. It was unfair for me to give him loose advice about how to the bench press correctly, but I only thought about that when I was writing this journal.
A little while later, I recognized a guy from the same nude bar as he walked into the gym. He looked shorter; a little clumsy but he had nice legs. Sometime last week, we had unprotected sex. I told him that I was top, but I was convinced by his lies to bend like a bitch. Yes, he convinced me to be a bottom, the floor was cold, sticky and I was in pain.
It was not worth it. I had contacted internal hemorrhoids a few days after and I was in deep shit. Literally, I was going to the toilet all the time. At the gym I felt like a subject – like he was studying every thing I was doing. I didn’t pay him attention of course, the alpha gay male doesn’t respond to what has happened.
Anyway, every guy at the gym is looked at and judged by the size of the muscles. You have to look big, you have to look like you are a gigantic gorilla and that you have no vulnerability. Unlike when I go to the gay nude bar, the men there look much smaller and are exploding with vulnerability.
It wasn’t James, I forgot his name – but that night after we met at the nude bar, he told me that he was a famous singer’s cousin. He said that he just wanted to see my body, not fuck it. Just for me to stand, turn around and then he would be satisfied. At first, I refused but I felt more wanted there, I felt like a desirable object. Unlike at the gym. Here, there is no competition. Here everyone adores my physique; it is about ego.
Anyway, the reason I went to the nude bar because I wanted to write this article about being black, being gay and being subjected to become an object. I drank a lot at the bar, I didn’t have sex, funny enough, maybe because I became more of an artist and the men there could read that. (I don’t know what I am saying or where this journal is going to.) There was a white guy sitting next to me who had clearly smoked something. His face was twitching and he was breathing through his teeth. I felt more welcome in the nude bar more that the gym.
It’s a weird thing. Validation. Recognition. Wanted to be looked at. Idolism. I ended up in some mansion and had dinner with three guys I met at the bar. It was good. I was intoxicated and I needed sex. Thank God, the guy’s penis was not that big. And his name was the same as my ex-boyfriend’s name, as well as my current boyfriend. (Yes, it’s something new though and I don’t want to be catching feelings, it’s far too soon.)
At the gym, I wanted to be seen but no one did, everyone was busy looking at themselves in the mirror where as at the bar I was seen, but I had to give up myself in order to believe in the lies of being a subject. Something I need to mention is that the bar I was in is a completely dark place and it is shaped like a maze. You hardly see anyone’s face, only their naked body. I enjoyed going there, I don’t know why. Maybe because I didn’t have to impress any body and maybe because no one was sizing any one up. Everyone is an object there and it’s okay.
The boy that I helped at the gym said goodbye to me when he was standing on the weight loss machine, dripping with sweat. That was sweet of him and cute. I am so horny again.
About the artist:
Kwanele has collaborated with a highly celebrated artist Kieron Jina in WERK IT for the Sex Actually Festival at Wits and Mamela Nyamza at the HIGH FIVE Dance exchange. Following a month long residency with the Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative in 2015 he created “Sounds of Men”( Dance Umbrella 2016), an extension of the solo of Exis(t) at the Jomba Dance Festival in Durban (2012) and a collaboration with Sonke Gender Justice (Braamfontein, JHB). The work is also part of Artgitart Festival in the City of figureres, Spain as well the ALOTE WOLE Festival in Ghana. His works focus heavily on gender identity, homonormativity and the politics of sexuality. He also facilitates Nothing But the Truth (The Play) for Grade 12’s in Soweto, Joburg and the State Theatre in collaboration with Nobulali Productions and teaches movement, dance, and theatre to under resourced children at Sibikwa Arts Centre based in Benoni, Johannesburg as well as with The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative in Mpumalanga.