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“You are very handsome.”

Those four words, spoken to me by a short haired gentleman at Einstein Bros Bagels on 4th and Robinson, was my official introduction to the vibrant, trendy, and proud section of San Diego County known as Hillcrest.

Growing up in the Bay Area I was taught at an early age about gay and lesbian people and the importance of acceptance. But outside of a Jenna Jameson video my brother gave me, the concept of lesbian and gay was abstract to me until I met some people in college. A male roommate my freshmen year I originally thought was metrosexual until I met his boyfriend. In college is also where I met my best friend Katrina, who told me she was lesbian and proved it when she kissed a girl and she liked it.

Between the two of them I learned a great deal about gay culture and gay lifestyle. I found out the origin of the iconic rainbow and its significance. I learned of different types of gays and lesbians such as lipsticks, butch women, tops, and bottoms. I experienced first hand that gay clubs have better music then their straight counterparts. In the midst of learning about the culture and hanging out with people who enjoy having relations with humans of similar chromosomes, I learned something else; gay guys love me.

With all truthfulness I am an above average looking guy. I possess a muscular build, a casual sense of style, and a healthy air of confidence, which are apparently qualities that most men look for in a man. My college roommates’ friends would always ask about me to him, but I thought nothing about it. It wasn’t until I started working out at the 24 Hour Fitness on 5th & University in Hillcrest that I found out I was a man magnet.

The gym itself looks exactly like every other 24 Hour Fitness across the nation. The main difference of course is the patrons, in this case the hoards of men and small handful of women this location attracts. No matter the time of day the place was packed. The way the gay community exercises, if everyone in America was gay there would not be an obesity epidemic.

Having gay friends I thought nothing of working out at a gay gym. What I didn’t foresee was that by working out there I was also by association gay, and thus was open season for the numerous males who were looking for a date. Every set I did was met with stares. Anytime I walked out of the locker room and passed the cardio equipment I would hear whispers of “he’s so cute.” And every other conversation a guy had with me always led to him indirectly or directly asking me out. Once I disappointed the man with a “No thanks,” or “I’m sorry but I’m straight,” the conversation would get awkward, and then end. It’s funny because my whole life I have craved attention, especially from the opposite sex. Now I was getting attention, just not the kind I wanted.

The one thing that amazed me about the guys that approached me was that they were all aggressive and confident. Gays of all shapes and sizes would come up to me. Even once I told them that I like vagina, they would politely move on to the next guy undaunted. If only I was like that with the ladies.

Though getting hit on was an annoyance, I still worked out there for the fact that gay guys are serious lifters. Wait time for a machine was limited because they worked out with a purpose. On top of being quick and efficient, they were also incredibly friendly and helpful. If I saw someone do an exercise that was interesting, I could ask him what body part it worked and how to do it properly. Without fail, every male I asked would take at least five minutes to explain everything in detail. The way the big lifters were smashed any semblance of “gaydar” I thought I had. They looked and acted like straight guys. Some of them could have been mistaken for the San Diego Chargers, if only the Chargers dressed better, and, you know, had sex with one another.

On top of always being clean, the other perk was the tight bodied lesbians and other beautiful women that frequented this 24 Hour Fitness. I suspected they chose the Hillcrest location so they could fully focus on exercising and not worry about being bothered. Having them around was great because I could ogle and they wouldn’t care. They thought I was gay and thus safe, and I loved it because I’m straight and they had nice asses.

Working out there was surreal, and one event put the Hillcrest 24 Hour Fitness in a permanent place in my heart: the day two males fought over me.

The day started as all me other gym days. I walked in, turned to the left, and did my daily prayer that no one was having sex in the locker room before I entered. After changing I walked by all the cardio machines to get to the free weights, noticing every other head turn as I walked by. Over at the free weights was Fernando, a well to do Spanish fellow who would not take “I’m straight” for an answer. Despite his continued advances I was always cool with him. After a quick greet he left and I turned back to my dumbbells. That was when I met Marco.

On my right bicep I have a tattoo of three characters of Baybayin, an ancient Filipino script. The reason I have it is because it’s unique and it gives women who want to talk to me an excuse to do so. So of course in Hillcrest Marco had the opener he needed. After asking about the tattoo then introducing himself, he led the conversation to good restaurants in the area. Right as he was asking me to join him at Kemo Sabe, Fernando sauntered up, and he looked pissed. Already sensing what may happen, I quickly introduced the two of them, then slowly walked away to do a set of bicep curls.

As I finished my set I turned to see Marco and Fernando getting heated. Here were two gay males, who admittedly were both good looking and could easily get tons of women if they wanted, fighting over a straight guy. I was embarrassed and flattered at the same time. Eventually the chat calmed, and Marco left for the locker room, leaving Fernando victorious. Though I guess since I’m not gay, he didn’t win anything at all.

Working out at the 24 Hour Fitness in Hillcrest for the time that I did was easily the most interesting experience I have had in San Diego. The experience taught me to be more open and less judgmental of all people, not just my gay brothers and lesbian sisters. It taught me to never to assume a person’s sexual preference, that we are all unique. Finally it taught me that if I ever go out in Hillcrest and I DON’T get hit on, it means that it’s time to start working out again.

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