Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Weight of the World: Openly Gay Chris Morgan Hopes to Win a World Weight-Lifting Title

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Weight of the World: Openly Gay Chris Morgan Hopes to Win a World Weight-Lifting Title

Article excerpt

Chris Morgan's path to becoming one of the strongest men in the world began at a London gym seven years ago. A fellow weight lifter glanced at the Brit and remarked: "You realize, you're very, very strong and what you're doing is a sport." Morgan took the observation to heart.

At the end of November the 32-year-old will become the first openly gay man to compete in the world championship final of the World Drug-Free Powerlifting Federation. The brawny 165-pounder, who goes by the Internet nickname Chunky Muscle, says he's "put together with nuts and bolts for joints and big guns for quads." Straight guys ask him how much he guys ask if he could bench-press them. Americans think he's a curiosity. Morgan's not sure if it's his accent, his sport, or his build.

In the championship, to be held in Atlanta, he wants to lift a personal best, challenge homophobia, and get rid of stereo types, like the one about gay men being lousy at sports, especially strength training. "We all try to make a difference in our own way," he says. "When I am there, standing with the strongest men in the world, I'm demonstrating that we are as equal as anybody, that we can compete with anybody. In Atlanta I am going to give the performance of my life."

Morgan's life hasn't always been this focused. Currently a financial adviser by day, he played competitive rugby until the early 1990s, when he was permanently sidelined by injuries. Not only was his body damaged, he was also ending a relationship with a woman and coming to terms with his sexuality. (He is currency single and jokes that he's married to weight lifting.) "My coming-out coincided with when I lost my sports career, and I sort of exchanged being a first-class athlete for the club scene," he remembers.

But then in January 1998 came that casual conversation at the London gym that sent Morgan in a new direction. …

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