The 1984 Olympic U.S. Men's Gymnastics Team turned me gay.
It was the first summer Olympics to happen after I hit adolescence. I don't remember having seen men's gymnastics on television before. But when I caught sight of the short, powerhouse, muscle-bound tumblers in Los Angeles, there could be no doubt: I was gay, and this was hot!
The drama of the Olympics was part and parcel of the whole eroticism for me. These guys weren't expected to win the team competition. It was down to the wire, every landing crucial, every hop critical, and the Chinese and Japanese tumblers were scooping up every medal in sight. And then the underdog-dreamboats from the U.S. win, and all of these gorgeous studs with massive biceps and thick chests and tiny little waists were hugging and jumping all over each other in ecstasy... ecstasy, I tell you!
At the time, I was smitten with Peter Vidmar. These days, I wouldn't peg him for the stud puppy in the bunch, but you can't argue with the raging hormones of an adolescent gay boy. Peter was dreamy, and I was in love.
Mitch Gaylord was clearly the one pegged by everyone else as the looker in the group. He had those big shoulders and that (relatively) long, sexy body. He took a stab at a movie, which as I remember was unmemorable.
In hindsight, Bart Conner should've been my gay crush. Even then, I remember being awed by thickness of his biceps. There was something totally hot about hearing the story of his completely torn bicep from training. The scars across his massive arms and shoulders were just fascinating (in a why-are-my-pants-suddenly-tight way). The California surferboy blond hair and and the little boy grin on that brickhouse bod was completely worshipful. I should so much have been into him more than Vidmar.
Frankly, I think Tim Daggett may have had the best bod in the bunch, but I didn't think he was so handsome. I still see him commenting on men's gymnastics competitions when I tune in for my short-muscle-stud fix, particularly around the summer Olympics.
And then, there were "the rest," in the words of the theme song to Gilligan's Island. Jim Hartung and Scott Johnson are totally the Professor and Mary Ann. I remember them both by sight, and I remember thinking, "Hey, those guys are hot, too!" But they weren't the superstars, and they didn't get as much exposure.
I fell in love all over again when (Sexy) Alexei Nemov was such a media darling in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics (and the way he always kissed his teammates after each routine). Still today, I pause and drink in the gorgeousness whenever men's gymnastics pops up on television. But it's the 1984 Olympic U.S. Men's Gymnastic team that first made me fall in love and lust with the sport that proves short is sexy.