The following letter was mailed out to subscribers of Options over the holidays.
Dear Options Readers,
Options Magazine is happy to announce our relaunch in April 2018. To kick off this exciting endeavor, we will host our annual open meeting in April to discuss the future of Options, introduce our new Board of Directors, promote our annual 5K run, and unveil our May 2018 edition. This will be the chance to speak openly on how we will continue to serve the LGBTQ community. Most importantly, this is the opportunity for you to discuss what Options means to you and the role you can play in our future.
We will hit the ground running in 2018. We have made great progress over the past few years with advancement of LGBTQ rights, but now a political climate has emerged that threatens all that we have worked for. In 2017 alone, we have seen record attacks against people in our community all across this country—especially against those who are transgender. For the past 36 years, Options has served to inform, educate, and call attention to issues that impact our community—this is certainly no time to rest. As United States Senator Kamala Harris once said, “the American dream belongs to all of us,” but we know that dream is threatened with the continued attacks on our community at the federal level.
While we are happy with the developments with our publication, we will continue to strive for excellence. We will continue to prove that Options Magazine highlights, and brings together, the strength of our community. Options Magazine continues to be used as a reference for those who have not yet come out.
None of this is possible without you. With your help, we have been able to distribute over 60,000 copies of Options Magazine. Our mailing list includes over 3,000 households. We cover issues that main stream media ignores. This is all achieved because of you. With your support, we will continue with the publication; strengthen our online presence; and become a rallying point for the LGBTQ community in Rhode Island, southeastern Massachusetts, and beyond.
Did you know…
Return the enclosed card with your donation today, or donate online at optionsri.org/donate/
Options Magazine thanks you for your donation and continued support.
On Tuesday, October 24, the board of directors of Gay and Lesbian Options of Rhode Island (Options Magazine) will host a special meeting to vote on proposed amendments to the bylaws. The changes were proposed by the board of directors at the September 2017 board meeting. This meeting and the vote is open to the membership. The meeting will start promptly at 5:30pm and will be held at 400 Smith Street in Providence.
Proposed Amendments to the Bylaws:
These changes will remove the current limit of two At Large Members, allowing the board of directors to grow.
Article 4, Section 1 of the Bylaws (as currently written)
Article 4. Leadership
There shall be a Board of Directors consisting of three officers and two members of GLORI:
The Chairperson shall preside at all meetings of the Board and the general membership meetings. The Chairperson shall be the spokesperson for the organization, and shall serve as the agent for service of process.
The Recording Secretary is responsible for all minutes of the Board and Annual Meetings. Also, the Recording Secretary is responsible for maintaining the mail list. In addition, the Recording Secretary is responsible for maintaining the corporate records and for statutory and regulatory filings.
The Treasurer is responsible for all deposits and check disbursements. Also, the Treasurer will maintain financial records and prepare and distribute copies of annual financial reports to all members. In addition, the Treasurer is responsible for all yearly IRS filings.
At Large Members
Two at large members shall be responsible for assisting in all operations of GLORI and in the absence of any Board member may serve as substitutes.
In our meeting last month, the board of directors voted to suspend the printing of Options due to a lack of funds and volunteers. Despite the growth we’ve seen in readers and revenue over the past three years, we continue to struggle with maintaining the resources needed operate at a level that is expected by readers and advertisers.
We’ll use the next few months to evaluate the state of the organization, attempt to identify opportunities for financial growth that will provide stability, and gauge interest and support levels from readers. The board and the volunteers who produce Options each month want it to prosper, but our future is uncertain and we need more help.
There is no debate that after thirty-five years, Options continues to provide value. And, there is so much more that we could do if we had the resources. If you wish to see that Options remains in print, I urge you to consider how you can contribute. This is an exciting opportunity for those who want to support one of the few nonprofit LBGTQ publications in the nation. Add your voice to the publication and help us continue to be a resource and voice for so many.
There are two things that Options needs to keep the publication in print: money and volunteers. The time requirement to fulfill roles range from a few hours a month, to several hours per week, depending on the job. Roles that need to be filled in order for Options to function include a manager of advertising, distribution, website, social media, art/photography, and billing as well as finding more writers, editors, and copyeditors to get involved.
Additionally, there are seats on the board of directors that must be filled to ensure the board can operate. While an individual’s skill set can be varied, the board is in need of members who have expertise in finance, accounting, law, publishing, English, writing, fundraising, development, event planning, and graphic design.
Making a donation to Options is a great way to show your personal support of the organization and will help us evaluate the community’s interest and ability to fund our efforts. Enclosed you’ll find a response envelope to make donating via mail even easier, but don’t forget that donations are accepted online at www.optionsri.org.
If you own a business or are the decision maker at a company or organization, or can influence them, we need your support through advertising as it is what we rely on to fund our efforts. Options provides an opportunity to reach a targeted demographic while supporting a community nonprofit. Additional information about advertising can be found on our website, or by emailing email@example.com.
On a more personal note, after more than three years of serving as both executive director and president of the board, and more than six years as a volunteer, I’ve announced my resignation to the board. It has been a pleasure serving for the organization and I implore anyone who has an interest in seeing that Options continues to be published and a vision for the organization to make it known. There is a place for you at the table and we need you.
Volunteer Executive Director
Wed. 5 SalsaConSoul by TeamFusionRI, 8pm-1am. Aurora, 276 Westminster Street, Providence. Open to dancers of all levels of experience. No partner needed. $15 cover, includes lessons. $10 after 10pm. For more info, facebook.com/SalsaConSoul.
Sun. 9 RI Prime Timers, 4:30-7pm. Social, dinner, and networking group for older gay and bi men on second Sundays. For more info, www.riprimetimers.org or call Steve at 996-3010.
Thu. 13 Sweet Little Variety Show, 8pm. Aurora, 276 Westminster Street, Providence. A queer-produced potpourri of entertainment. $7. Find Sweet Little Variety Show on Facebook.
Fri. 14 SAGE LGBT Café, noon-2pm. Church of the Transfiguration, 1665 Broad Street, Cranston. A delicious, low-cost lunch in a gay-friendly setting sponsored by Meals on Wheels, the Department of Elderly Affairs, and SAGE-RI. Programming after lunch. A $3 donation is suggested for LGBT people 60+ and people with disabilities; a $6 donation is suggested for all others. Reservations required. Call Pauline at 351-6700.
Sun. 16 RISE Tea Dance with DJ Andy Morris, 3pm. Rooftop at the Providence G, 100 Dorrance Street, Providence. LGBTQ tea-dance atop Providence with live show at 6pm. 18+. No cover.
Wed. 19 Queer Book Club, 7-9:30pm. Books on the Square, 471 Angell Street, Providence. Reading: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Discount if book is purchased at Books on the Square. For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sat. 20 Bachata/Kizomba Fusion Night by TeamFusionRI, 8pm-2am. Aurora, 276 Westminster Street, Providence. Open to dancers of all levels of experience. No partner needed. $20 cover, includes two lessons. $15 after 10pm. For more info, facebook.com/SalsaConSoul.
Thu. 1, Fri. 2 Trans*, a play created from oral histories by Frank Toti, 7:30pm. URI’s Paff Auditorium, 80 Washington Street, Providence. Free and open to the public. For more info, call 277-5206, email email@example.com, or visit web.uri.edu/prov/arts.
Fri. 2 – Sun. 3 Providence Gay Men’s Chorus presents The Rat Pack is Back, the music of Sinatra and Friends, Fri. and Sat. 7pm, Sun. 4pm. Greenwich Odeum, 59 Main Street, East Greenwich. Tickets and info available at www.provgmc.org.
Fri. 2 Comedy with Poppy Champlin and Friends, 8pm. The Village, 373 Richmond Street, Providence. $10. Reservations can be made at www.thevillageri.com or 228-7222.
Fri. 2 Lust II. Providence Eagle, 124 Snow Street. Countdown to Pride at this leather/underwear party. For more info, www.providenceeagle.com.
Sat. 3 US Tennis Association New England Chapter Family Tennis Day, 4-6pm. Brown University tennis courts, 225 Hope Street, Providence. $5. For more info, email Jess at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sat. 3 Sister Funk Trio, 8:30pm. The Village, 373 Richmond Street, Providence. $5. Reservations can be made at www.thevillageri.com or 228-7222.
Sun. 4 Trans* swim, 4-6pm. McDermott Pool, 975 Sandy Lane, Warwick. For more info, email@example.com.
Mon. 5 RI PrideFest Volunteer Orientation, 6:30-8pm. Juice Point, 100 Fountain Street, Providence. Learn about and register for PrideFest 2016 volunteer opportunities. Refreshments served. All are welcome. For more info, www.prideri.com.
Mon. 5 Future Mondays, 8-11pm. Aurora, 276 Westminster Street, Providence. Live entertainment with Mac and Strikeback, Johnny Doubek. Free entry. Partial bar proceeds benefit Rhode Island Pride on all Mondays in June.
Wed. 7 SalsaConSoul by TeamFusionRI, 8pm-1am. Aurora, 276 Westminster Street, Providence. Open to dancers of all levels of experience. No partner needed. $15 cover includes a lesson. $10 after 10pm. For more info, www.facebook.com/SalsaConSoul.
Wed. 7 Live Performances hosted by Mx. Bisexual 2017 Tammy Laforest, 8pm. Dusk, 301 Harris Avenue, Providence. $10 to benefit RI Pride.
Thu. 8 Sweet Little Variety Show, 8pm. Aurora, 276 Westminster Street, Providence. A queer-produced potpourri of entertainment. $10 to benefit RI Pride. For more info, www.facebook.com/sweetlittlevarietyshow.
Fri. 9 Gay Pride Sabbath, 7:30pm. Temple Habonim, 165 New Meadow Rd., Barrington. Public is welcome. Reception to follow. Myra Shays will speak on “The Evolution of a PFLAG Mom.
Fri. 9 Pride Idol, 8:30pm. Mirabar,15 Elbow Street, Providence. Hosts Jen Bonin and Miss Gay Rhode Island 2017 Viza D. Klein. With ten contestants and guest judges. $10 to benefit Rhode Island Pride.
Fri. 9 Retro Dance Party with Vulgarrity, 9pm. The Village, 373 Richmond Street, Providence. $5. Reservations can be made at www.thevillageri.com or 228-7222.
Sat. 10 Boston Pride Parade and Festival, 11am-6pm. City Hall Plaza. Free for all ages. www.bostonpride.org.
Sat. 10 Jodi Jolt and The Volt, 9pm. The Village, 373 Richmond Street, Providence. $5. Reservations can be made at www.thevillageri.com or 228-7222.
Sun. 11 PVD Equality March, 1-4pm. RI State House. In solidarity with the Equality March on Washington and cities around the country.
Sun. 11 Tea Dance Block Party, 4-6pm. Dark Lady, 19 Snow Street, Providence. Following the Equality March and preceding the Rainbow Flag Raising.
Sun. 11 RI Prime Timers, 4:30-7pm. Social, dinner, and networking group for older gay and bi men on second Sundays. For more info, www.riprimetimers.org or call Steve at 996-3010.
Sun. 11 Rainbow Flag Raising, 6pm. Providence City Hall steps. Join community representatives and officials to welcome the RI Pride season.
Mon. 12 Future Mondays, 8-11pm. Aurora, 276 Westminster Street, Providence. Live entertainment and free entry. Partial bar proceeds benefit Rhode Island Pride on all Mondays in June.
Tue. 13 Vinyasa Pride Yoga Class, 6pm. PrideFest site on South Water Street Greenway, Providence. Tanya Gorriaran-Goodwin invites you to attend an all levels outdoor class. Bring a mat, water, and towel if needed. Donations accepted for RI Pride.
Tue. 13 Trans Yoga, 6-7:15pm. West Warwick Health Equity Zone office, 1229 Main Street, West Warwick. For more info, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tue. 13 RI PrideFest Volunteer Orientation, 7-8pm. South Water Street Greenway, Providence. Learn about and register for PrideFest 2016 volunteer opportunities. Refreshments served. All are welcome. For more info, prideri.com.
Thu. 15 Drag Bingo: RI Pride Bingo, 6-9pm. Riviera Bingo Palace, 1612 Elmwood Avenue, Cranston. $20 gets you in all games with over $2,000 in cash and prizes awarded monthly. $100 cash prize for best bonnet. Hosted by Haley Star and LaDiva Jonz. All funds raised benefit AIDS Care Ocean State and AIDS Project RI.
Fri. 16 SAGE LGBT Café, noon-2pm. Church of the Transfiguration, 1665 Broad Street, Cranston. A delicious, low-cost lunch in a gay-friendly setting sponsored by Meals on Wheels, the Department of Elderly Affairs, and SAGE-RI. Programming after lunch. A $3 donation is suggested for LGBT people 60+ and people with disabilities; a $6 donation is suggested for all others. Reservations required. Call Pauline at 351-6700.
Fri. 16 & Sat. 17. Venues with two-day block parties: Dark Lady/Alley Cat, EGO, Providence Eagle, Stable, and The Village.
Fri. 16 Pre-Pride Block Party with Sheri Lynn Band, 9pm. The Village, 373 Richmond Street, Providence. Featured performance by Frenchie Davis. $5. Reservations can be made at www.thevillageri.com or 228-7222.
Sat. 17 The Meet-Uhp PVD, 8pm-2am. Alchemy, 71 Richmond Street, 2nd Floor, Providence. Latin dancing open to all levels. No partner needed. $15 cover includes lesson. For info, facebook.com/SalsaConSoul.
Sat. 17 42nd Annual Rhode Island PrideFest, noon-7pm. Presented by The Village. South Water Street Greenway, Providence. PrideFest features a Kids Zone, Youth Center, over 100 vendors, a beer/wine/spirits garden, and live entertainment. Free for all ages. Donations suggested. For more info, www.prideri.com.
Sat. 17 Rhode Island Pride’s Illuminated Night Parade, 8pm. Presented by The Village. Travels North on Dorrance Street past Providence City Hall turning West on Washington Street, South on Empire Street, and East on Weybosset Street to the Providence Performing Arts Center Reviewing Stand. Free for all ages. For more info, www.prideri.com.
Sat. 17 Official Pride Block Party. The Village, 373 Richmond Street, Providence. Latin pop sensation Lisa Lisa, with DJ Dena & DJ Nicole. For more info, thevillageri.com or 228-7222.
Sun. 18 Drag Brunch. The Village, 373 Richmond Street, Providence. Featuring Rhode Island’s finest drag performers. For more info and reservations, thevillageri.com or 228-7222.
Sun. 18 Trans* swim, 4-6pm. McDermott Pool, 975 Sandy Lane, Warwick. For more info, email@example.com.
Sun. 18 RISE Tea Dance with DJ Andy Morris, 3pm. Rooftop at the Providence G, 100 Dorrance Street, Providence. LGBTQ tea-dance atop Providence with live show at 6pm. 18+. No cover.
Mon. 19 Future Mondays, 8-11pm. Aurora, 276 Westminster Street, Providence. Live entertainment and free entry. Partial bar proceeds benefit Rhode Island Pride on all Mondays in June.
Wed. 21 Queer Book Club, 7-9:30pm. Books on the Square, 471 Angell Street, Providence. Reading: The Cosmopolitans by Sarah Schulman. Discount if book is purchased at Books on the Square. For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mon. 26 Future Mondays, 8-11pm. Aurora, 276 Westminster Street, Providence. Live entertainment and free entry. Partial bar proceeds benefit Rhode Island Pride on all Mondays in June.
Tue. 27 Trans Yoga, 6-7:15pm. West Warwick Health Equity Zone office, 1229 Main Street, West Warwick. For more info, email@example.com.
Read it here:
The June issue will be mailed directly to more than 3,000 subscribers. Thousands of copies will be distributed throughout the area as well as at major events such as the Options Magazine Gay 5K and Rhode Island Pride’s PrideFest.
To advertise in this special issue:
1. Complete the following form in it’s entirety.
2. Look for an advertising agreement and invoice to be emailed to you.
3. Pay the invoice online or with a check sent to our PO Box.
4. Submit artwork electronically via email by May 10.
Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Options has been through many changes in its rich history. First published in 1982, people still speak emotionally of the paper’s first 15 years when it was a lone media voice, an oasis for people who felt alone, disconnected, disempowered, afraid, or confused. Today, its importance as a unique and important voice, continually building and supporting our community, is as strong as ever. We are truly the publication of record for the local LGBTQ community.
The Black & White Affair is a night you will not want to miss. Enjoy:
Honoring our past
Dance the night away
By Kyle McKendall — Photos by Ellery Photography
A CrossFit gym looks as if someone took a conventional gym and stripped out all of the safe, modern and familiar cardiovascular workout options like treadmills and ellipticals. It leaves only the weights. It’s a heteronormative environment boasting barbells and weight plates, kettlebells, muscular men and women, and a certain “rough-around-the-edges-who-can-lift-the-most-weight-the-fastest” attitude. The CrossFit gym appears to challenge many of the insecurities that a gay man would face.
Despite an afternoon lull in classes at Ocean State CrossFit, cars were still parked in the the gym’s parking lot. Though not many people were working out, they were lingering after having taken an earlier afternoon class. In the main gym downstairs was a 25-year-old guy; he worked out in the corner alone with a barbell stacked with weights. Taking advantage of the downtime, he had found the opportunity to perfect a lift. While this was a time when there was no official programming taking place, finding a quiet room or a place to sit and talk was next to impossible.
One of the gym’s owners was upstairs at his desk editing a draft for his newest blog post while also on a phone call. I found coach Ryan Tracy-Carvalho in the lounge socializing with gym members. He took the time to talk with me, and it became clear that those preconceived notions about CrossFit are unfounded.
Despite the worries one might have about CrossFit and fitting in, spending a short time in a class or having a quick conversation with Ryan or one of the other coaches at Ocean State would lay any concerns to rest. Ryan explained that there are a lot of gays and lesbians who work out at Ocean State. He expressed this in a tone that implied it’s not a point many even discuss or consider.
“You’d think there would be an element of awkwardness while working out next to him, ” Ryan said, as he motioned toward a straight, 6’2”, 210 lb gym member who was working out on the other side of the room, “where he may think differently of you…but, we’re treated just like everyone else. No one thinks, ‘Oh, that’s the gay dude over there.’ It’s one community.”
This is the CrossFit that members of Ocean State know and love, a place where working out is more than just a task on a to-do list. It is a community gym that provides a place for conversations to take place and friendships to flourish. It’s an environment that members describe as supportive, fun, encouraging, and often inspirational. It’s a place of belonging.
CrossFit calls itself “constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.” All workouts are based on functional movements, and these movements reflect aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, and rowing, among other fitness approaches. Overall, the aim of CrossFit is to forge inclusive fitness supported by measurable, observable, and repeatable results.
The CrossFit brand says that “the program prepares trainees for any physical contingency—not only for the unknown but for the unknowable, too. Our specialty is not specializing.”
While CrossFit challenges the world’s fittest, the program is designed for universal scalability, making it the perfect application for any individual, regardless of experience. Ocean State CrossFit, and the more than 13,000 affiliates across the world, don’t change the programmed workout for different people; instead they scale the load and intensity. If 225 lb deadlifts and pull-ups are in the programmed workout, everyone is doing some variation of those movements based on their individual capabilities. After all, the physical needs of a competitive athlete versus your grandparents differ by degree, not kind.
The hardest part of acclimating to the CrossFit approach may have little to do with the workouts or weight, but instead with understanding the terminology and acronyms tossed around. Here are the basics:
Each CrossFit gym is an independently-owned business that franchises the CrossFit name. The physical gym is called a “box” and boasts a surprisingly simple setup with a metal rig/weight rack around the perimeter and stacks of weights, kettlebells, and wooden boxes along the walls. There is one “workout of the day,” commonly referred to as the WOD. At Ocean State, the WOD is programmed by Ray Fleser, co-owner and director of fitness operations. The WOD is scaled or adjusted to provide a safe, approachable, and challenging workout for all participants. Classes are instructed by a coach– not a trainer– and when you join a CrossFit gym, you are considered to be an athlete.
On a typical day at Ocean State, members participate in a group warm-up, followed by an opportunity to work on a specific movement or lift. The programming dictates what the lift will be and what you should be working towards. Some days a member may be going for a personal record, where they’re trying to lift more weight in that particular movement than they’ve previously done. Other days everyone may be instructed to go lighter with weight, while aiming for more repetitions. While one person may be back-squatting 95 lbs, the person to their right may have 275 lbs on their barbell, and someone to their left is using a only plastic PVC pipe—meaning to improve their mobility and range of motion.
Fitness wasn’t always a priority or focus in Ryan’s life. It wasn’t until his mid-twenties when he discovered he had a passion for it. For years, he suffered from severe depression, while trying different medications to fill the void in his life. “I was 25 years old and didn’t know what I want to do with my life. I was overweight, which added to the stresses of having gone to school to be an actor and things had not taken off as I had planned.”
Life was difficult at that time and Ryan often questioned why, and how, to move forward. His dad often talked about the health benefits gained from releasing endorphins through working out and maintaining a regimen of going to bed for a good night’s rest, plus the importance of eating right. He suggested Ryan shake things up and make some truly major changes in his life. And that’s exactly what Ryan did.
“Working out every day and seeing the difference in my body, and seeing the difference in the way I was feeling, and being proud of myself completely changed who I was. At the time, I was a waiter, trying to be an actor, and I finally thought, no, I want to be a personal trainer.” He talks vividly of this point in his life when he realized that he wanted a career in something that helped people to feel better and improve their lives. The emotional and physical benefits that came with working out began to change his perspective and what he wanted from life.
When Ryan became a member at Ocean State CrossFit in May of 2012, he was already a personal trainer certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He had worked and trained clients at several gyms throughout Rhode Island. His sister back home in New Jersey had joined a box and she shared her new interest in CrossFit with him. Meanwhile, friends here in Rhode Island started to regularly talk about their new gym in what he recalls as “an obsessive manner.” Ryan decided he just had to try it out; he quickly fell in love with the community he found. A year later, Ryan took the Level 1 CrossFit Coach certification program and was subsequently hired as a coach at Ocean State.
Of course, there were some reservations when he first joined Ocean State. Many gay men can easily relate to these concerns regarding a competitive environment such as CrossFit. “You have to push the nervousness to the back of your head when you’re trying something new that is challenging your comfort zone. Joining CrossFit was reminiscent of the feeling of being picked last in gym class because you’re the gay kid. Maybe you weren’t out when you were in gym class but you knew you were different. So you walk into somewhere like a CrossFit gym and you are forced to think about the what-ifs of being treated differently. I just wanted to be treated like everyone else, and that’s what happened.”
Exercising every day made Ryan feel like a superhero version of himself. As a coach, he watches transformations happen almost every day. “So many members come in here shy and sad about their bodies. Fast forward just a few months and they’ve made friends, they are walking around carrying themselves differently, some even working out without a shirt on for their first time of their life — and they are comfortable doing it.” He talks about the Ocean State community like a family that supports one another, building each other up to achieve their goals. “I constantly have moments where I think, thank God I do what I do.”
Ryan can’t recall a singular coaching moment that makes him most proud because there are too many to talk about. “The transformations that take place on a daily basis are rewarding and my ‘best coaching moments’ happen so often they keep replacing themselves.” He speaks of the rewarding feeling of watching someone get their first unassisted pull up, or finally being able to use a jump rope, or to be able to step up onto a 18” high box after months of failed attempts.
The energy level at Ocean State is high every day, and it infiltrates members’ minds. “You look at the whiteboard to read the WOD and say, ‘How am I going to do that?’ Then you do, and that confidence is carried with you through the day.”
For decades, mental health professionals and authors have published work that explores gay men’s obsession with fitness and their body image. With a gay culture that highlights, rewards, and emphasizes the perfect male body, the internal struggles that gay men face constantly can be challenging. Popular gay dating/hookup app Grindr allow users to identify their body type by adjectives such as “toned, average, large, muscular, slim, or stocky.” The app prominently displays that information on your public profile.
National gay news websites often offer hyper-sexualized content woven into the more traditional news stories. It’s not uncommon to read an article about the a Supreme Court hearing only to have it followed up by the latest leaked celebrity nude photo. In one article, psychologist Nando Pelusi noted, “Men are more visual, so gay culture basically reveals male sexuality in its purest form. So we’re going to put a high premium on what somebody looks like when we’re male, regardless of our preference.”
While there are plenty of CrossFitters with model-like bodies, CrossFit emphasizes strength, not size or image. It prioritizes achievement of personal goals, without preventing others from hitting theirs. It feels competitive, but you compete against yourself, not necessarily one another. Prior to joining, Ryan was concerned that the environment would only amplify those concerns of having to prove your masculinity or toughness, but he says he couldn’t have been more wrong.
“Everyone is a friend here, rooting for you to do your best. In my own head I still may occasionally think ‘look what I can do too’ but we’re all just looking to get a good workout. Just because he’s in love with her and I’m in love with him, we still like to compete, and we still like to get heavy with weights.”
While the welcome mat for gay men and women seems to be laid down at CrossFit gyms, things are not so clearly defined for the trans community. In 2014, the national CrossFit organization was sued by Chloie Jonsson, a transgender woman, who was denied entry into the women’s division of the CrossFit Games, a contest aimed at determining the fittest man and woman in the world. Chloie was anonymously outed as a transgender woman and the response of CrossFit was to invalidate her registration and state that all athletes must register and compete under their birth gender.
While no official policy can be easily found on the CrossFit website, Ryan says that accepting the trans community at Ocean State wouldn’t be worth a second thought to the coaches and community that workout there. “It could only become a conversation with a regional or national competition. Here, you are who you say you are. I know with complete confidence that if someone came here and said, I’m a woman or I’m a man, they’d be treated as such.”
Ocean State was the place where Ryan truly fell in love with his now husband, Adam Tracy-Carvalho. They two met through friends, but it was their mutual love of CrossFit and competitive attitudes that drove them together. “Never before in my life have I ever had someone that I’ve loved so much share so much in common.” He talked about how in previous relationships, he had to find a workout buddy to fill that companion space, but now he looks no further than his husband.
This past fall, Ocean State CrossFit honored Ryan and Adam with a special workout on the morning of their wedding day. The day’s WOD was programmed to included both men’s favorite movements. Family members, gym members, and coaches all participated in the celebration.
The final component of the workout was a 600-meter run. Ryan and Adam ran it in tandem, enjoying every moment of love their community was sharing with them. But, unexpectedly, during the last stretch, Adam dashed off to beat Ryan. Ryan gave a playful eye roll and laugh when he recalled this moment for me. “I love when he beats me in a workout,” he said, “Adam’s drive and competitiveness, even with me, is something I admire most about him.”
“This is where I work, work out, and spend most of my time with my husband. Whenever I hear a story about a gay couple’s negative experience at a gym or place of work, or go out and feel like we can’t be ourselves, I’m reminded that the whole world doesn’t share the values of CrossFit. Because in here, it’s not like that.”
At the coach’s count of “3, 2, 1, go!” everyone in the room has the same goal in sight. At Ocean State CrossFit, the elite athletes take classes with beginners whereas at some gyms they’d work out at a completely different time. But at Ocean State they’re in this together and everyone is part of the same team. The last person finishing a workout is just as important as the first one.
If you’re considering joining CrossFit, try to erase any negative thoughts that might serve as obstacles. “Don’t think ‘I can’t do this.’ or, ‘This isn’t for me,’ or even, ‘How will I be able to do that?’” said Ryan, adding, “You don’t need to be fit to come here. You get fit when you come here.”