How Gay is MMA?
Heidi Belleau & Violetta Vane
It’s hard to do research on this subject. Searches on “gay” and “MMA” inevitably return masses of debate arguments in which either side is incredibly homophobic and stupid, where “gay” isn’t a description of its sexual appeal (or lack thereof) or its fanbase (or lack thereof), but a value judgment.
— “MMA is so gay! The guys are always on top of each other!”
— “MMA is NOT gay because MMA is HARDCORE. Boxing is gay!”
On one level, MMA shouldn’t be thought of as gay or straight or anything, because it’s just a sport. A very full-contact sport, true, but like any athlete, fighters are in it to win it, or to achieve their personal best. It’s not sexual, any more than hockey or soccer or even golf is sexual.
On another level? Well... we could refer you to the porn site Nakedkombat.com.
Ultimately, viewers can get whatever they like out of the sport, regardless of the intentions of athletes or promoters, which is why Heidi can watch hours of Aussie Rules football without complaining, even though she doesn’t know the first thing about it as a sport.
And MMA just so happens to be a full contact sport where men at peak fitness compete in tiny trunks. And spend a good amount of their times grappling each other, often horizontally. And some of the holds have delightfully innuendo-riffic names like the “rear naked choke”, which looks almost as bad (or good) as it sounds. And where advertising on the groins and asses of athletes’ trunks is as reasonable as buying a bus ad. To read a fantastic analysis of the subject from a gay man’s perspective, check out Mark Simpson’s article (originally published in Out magazine) Fight Club: How Gay is MMA?, where he calls it “gay porn for straight men”.
This isn’t to denigrate or demean the sport, or to suggest it isn’t valid, or isn’t dangerous, or isn’t TOTALLY HARDCORE, it’s just to point out that it’s got a certain unintended appeal, one we had a great time exploring in Hawaiian Gothic by incorporating MMA-style fights into our sex scenes and also, in a less kink-focused fashion, as the physical catalyst of our main character’s sexual coming of age.
The hero of Hawaiian Gothic, Ori Reyes, loves the sport. In fact, it’s more than a sport for him: it’s a science, an identity. He’s not small, but he’s not huge either, not like his fellow Filipino-American, Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Muñoz. Ori achieved his wins at a lower weight class through hard physical training, speed, agility, and incredible courage. He’s deadly serious about MMA, never cocky, and he’s been that way since his childhood jiu-jitsu classes.
His friend Kalani, who grows to be much more to Ori than a friend, isn’t cut out for that level of dedication and discipline. He practices with Ori sometimes, but surfing is his true love. So MMA brings them together physically and emotionally, but it also drives a wedge between them, especially when the physicality of it sparks a desire they’re not ready to face in themselves or voice to each other.
Hawaiian Gothic is out today from Loose Id. You can buy it here from the publisher, or find it on your favourite e-tailer.
For Ori Reyes, coming home to Hawaii is hell. His Army Ranger career ended in dishonorable discharge, a prison term and disgrace in the eyes of his family. As for his childhood friend Kalani—well, Kalani could never love him back, not the way Ori wanted to be loved. And it’s too late for Ori to tell Kalani how he really feels, because Kalani’s in a coma that all the doctors say is terminal.
Then Kalani shows up to welcome him home.
Even though Kalani's body is unresponsive, his spirit roams free, and for the first time he's able to reveal the true depth of his feelings for Ori. They set out to solve the mystery of Kalani’s dark family history, a journey of redemption that leads deep into the ancient Hawaiian spirit world. For Ori, taking on monstrous ghost-guardians is easier than facing the hardest choice of all: that he might have to let Kalani go.