I Joined a Gay Men’s Wrestling Group and Learned a Lot About Myself
After years of whacking off to pro-wrestling and Roman-Greco matches at the Olympics, I finally joined my city’s gay wrestling club. Arriving in my new singlet and jockstrap, I envisioned sweaty erotic matches with muscular jocks and worried about getting trounced or tearing a ligament. But my fantasy was far off from the reality, and I ended up learning a lot more about myself than I ever thought I would.
The gay wrestling club I joined meets once a month at a local gym that also hosts kickboxing and Jiu-Jitsu classes. It’s led by a local yoga instructor, and usually 10 to 15 men attend, each of varying skill levels, strength, age and body type, including a few trans men.
The group’s invite e-mail indicated it was a friendly recreational group meant purely for the enjoyment of rolling around with other dudes rather than super-competitiveness or skills training. It also said we shouldn’t feel embarrassed if we got an erection because wrestling is intimate and erotic.
At the gym, we roll out nine mats connected in a three-by-three square, we do some pair-stretches and warm ups, and then it’s go time.
These are submission matches, meaning you’re supposed to wrestle until someone taps out or says the safe-word, which is “Chaka Khan.” (Hey, this is a gay wrestling club.) You get your opponent to tap out by exhausting them with a painful or inescapable hold. Though some of the guys are wicked strong, few have formal training.
Most of the gay wrestling matches last anywhere from two to 10 minutes. If someone wins too quickly, the loser can instantaneously ask for a rematch or two, even handicapping the stronger wrestler by choosing their starting position, applying a starting hold or asking them not to use certain limbs or holds.
For safety’s sake, we’re not allowed to grab anyone’s fingers or toes because they’re so breakable, nor are we allowed to wrench on anyone’s necks because they’re so prone to injury. Only three matches are allowed to happen at a time to avoid overcrowding or slamming into each other.
We’re told to communicate whether we have any injuries and to “match the other guy’s energy,” not to try and dominate or destroy them if they’re just looking for a friendly tussle.
Most matches start slowly, with both guys on their hands and knees. Some guys roll around gently together — grunting and straining as they exchange holds. Others scrap and toss each other around like young jocks with something to prove. Both are exciting to watch.
Gay men in particular fetishize wrestling, and it’s easy to see why, as singlets and wrestling briefs accentuate a guy’s muscles and bulges. Wrestling looks a lot like sex as two men breathlessly try to top one another.
As gay men, often estranged by the vulnerability and competitiveness of the locker room, we eroticize strength and male-touch. And so wrestling gets entangled with domination and submission fantasies all too obvious and complex to lay out here.
But I wanted to try out the gay wrestling club not just because it seemed hot but because I wanted to try something new, scary and exciting. I wanted to know I was brave enough to challenge other guys and to see how I felt about winning and losing.
I ended up learning a lot about myself, including things I never thought I’d learn from such a sexy “meathead” sport.