29-year-old Owen Lee is currently undergoing a fitness transformation with Maximuscle after winning a competition with Attitude to become the brand's new LGBT Ambassador. You can follow his progress on Instagram.
Sport and fitness has had a huge impact on my life, but it’s not all been positive.
I was inducted into the world of sport at a young age, my hand eye coordination helping me find minor success in table tennis and cricket through my teenage years. Sport found me friends, aided my physical and mental wellbeing, and taught me numerous skills. However it also held me back.
‘I can’t be gay, I’m good at sport.’ was a major thought that swirled through my head from the age of 17-21.
With few LGBTQ+ role models, alongside P.E. and the gym being dominated by heteronormative masculinity, the concept of being gay and being sporty felt impossible.
Fast forward a few years and past a few girlfriends, and I now fully identify as gay. However looking back the thoughts that the sporting world gave me sadden me. So many LGBTQ+ individuals were and are thrust away from the world of sport and fitness at an early age, with many feeling it’s subsequently ‘too late’ and thus don’t experience the benefits.
The positive however is that things are slowly changing.
Pilates is no longer 'just for women'. Being strong is no longer 'just for men'. Being camp doesn’t mean you 'can’t play rugby'. A wheelchair doesn’t prevent you from the basketball court. Society is increasingly challenging stereotyping in sport and fitness.
There are gradually becoming more sports people coming out, and there is more support for engaging the LGBTQ+ community in sport. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the growing number of amazing LGBTQ+ inclusive sports clubs in London - The London Goslings (badminton), London Outplay (squash), and the Kings Cross Steelers (rugby).
There is a very long road to go here, with many stereotypes and blocks deeply entrenched. However at least its started. Something that will help this enormously is the growing involvement of brands.
Working in digital marketing strategy I know the power of brands. They touch and influence all areas of our lives. How we communicate, what we wear, our transport, the food we consume, the list is endless. Being exposed to over 4,000 messages a day (though granted we don’t take all of them in) brands have the power to move societal trends for the good or the bad.
We do still see the tokenising of the LGBTQ+ community by brands - particularly in Pride month (see a more detailed analysis on my blog here) - but the biggest gains however are when support is consistent and earnest. Having money, media, platforms and products to put behind causes, brands can help reach new audiences and evolve minds.
We’ve all seen brands do this well, and brands do this badly. What drew me to apply to be the Maximuscle Ambassador, was their clear desire to reflect a more modern and diverse society in the fitness space. I’ve liked their willingness to not dictate what they should be doing in the LGBTQ+ space, but be open to ideas. Too many brands bulldoze their way into talking about things they don’t know about instead of listening first.
For me too, having been lucky enough to have won this competition (I’m still not quite sure how), I’m not foolish enough to believe I have the answers to all the unsolved problems. I’m super excited to try and help move that conversation forward in the LGBTQ+ community. However, I definitely can’t speak on behalf of everyone in that conversation should, and it would be wrong for me to try and do so.
I’m hoping this transformation to be an ‘LGBTQ+ Ambassador’ has a few dimensions to it: I want to get physically stronger (being pretty skinny I’ve always struggled) and nutritionally smarter (my diet has historically been pretty woeful), but I also want to learn what it means to represent you and the community effectively. So my final call is this. Help me to help our community.
View this post on Instagram
Super exciting news!! I’ve been asked by @maximuscle and @attitudemag to do a fitness transformation, ending with a 6 page photoshoot in Attitude!! 🙈🙊You can follow my progress @theagegapguys, @quickfunabs and on their IG channels. Let me know if you have any tips as think I’ve bitten off more than I’ve realised, but excited to see what I can do when I push myself!! Let’s do this!! . . #fitnesstransformation #gayabs #instagay #fitnesschallenge #gayguy #gaygym #gaysnap
You can follow what I’m up to on Instagram - @TheAgeGapGuys - and at www.AgeGapGuys.com. So DM me and let me know how you believe I can help progress LGBTQ+ sports and fitness with Maximuscle and Attitude.
There are a lot of opportunities and a lot of potential. So let’s decide what that future looks like and be a part of that change together.
With love (and currently sore shoulders, legs and bum),