French decathlete Romain Barras doesn't mind that gay men look at his photos -- he welcomes it.
"It is lucky to have articles [about me] on the gay websites," the 27-year-old Barras said in an interview with the French gay blog "A Cause des Garcons" (translated as "Because of the Boys"). The blog had posted a bunch of photos, mostly shirtless, of Barras under the headline "Romain Barras: The body made in France."
We have seen some athletes freak out recently when their photos have appeared on gay sites, but not Barras. "I visited the sites, I saw the photographs, the galleries. I found it to be super flattering on these sites to be surrounded by very beautiful guys," said Barras in comments ran through various online translators to get the context. "I always had affinities with the gay community. This is a world which does not shock me."
The blog even added a caption to a photo from Barras' own site that made an innuendo to his endowment, and he loved it.
"I like the frankness and gay humor, for example, the photo where one said that I have a pole as big as this," he said in reference to the photo caption. The blogger asked if his pole was that big. "No, no, it is bigger," Barras said laughing.
It's hard to imagine many athletes joking about such things in print (though the wife of then-Denver Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey once told NFL Films that her husband's jock strap was "a very large one. That's why the shoulder pads look so small.")
I could not tell from his extensive website (all in French) whether Barras is single, married or has a girlfriend or boyfriend, but he certainly has no hang-ups about his body. His photo gallery is filled with shirtless shots of him (like this one), and he evens posts one of him kissing a guy.
Barras, among the elite decathletes in the world, may have hit upon a new approach to get people thinking you are not gay -- embrace your gay fans. After all, only someone totally comfortable with his sexuality would be comfortable having gay men ogle his half-naked body and be able to joke about it. It reminds me of that study from the University of Georgia that showed that gay men and homophobic straight men were turned on by gay porn, while non-homophobic straight guys were not.
In contrast to Barras, Swiss triathlete Sebastien Gacond demanded that Outsports remove a link to a photo of him competing. When the story became public, Gacond took down his website lest mean bloggers mock some of the photos he had posted. And French tennis player Richard Gasquet became indignant when asked if he was gay; "It's absolutely obvious" that was not true, Gasquet said.
In June, American swimmer Randall Bal demanded that the gay website Bent Blog remove photos of him it had posted, sending this note: "I seriously would like to get this off your website, I have a number of fans which a number a lot of young individuals looking up to me as I travel around the world and give clinics to give back to the sport. I know you are just having fun but do not want to let this get out of hand. First off, I am not gay. Secondly, I do not need some guys gawking over me ... this is sick!" Responded the Bent Blog webmaster: "I am happy to remove [the photos] from the site. But I also reserve the right to call [him] a snotty prick if I deem it warranted. And in this case, it is."
Go ahead and admired the sleek, muscular physique of the 6-4, 188-pound Barras. Such as here, here, here, here, here and here. You'll be doing your part for the cause of gay tolerance.