Size Matters

That's the motto among gay men in Miami Beach who have fueled a rage for illegal steroids -- health considerations be damned

Signorile places South Beach at the top of his list for steroid use among gay men, saying that it beats out even West Hollywood in California and Chelsea in New York City. "In New York, L.A., and Miami, in certain gyms, 75 to 85 percent of the men are using steroids," he estimates. This environment has produced another party phenomenon that Signorile denounces: Miami Beach Hardbodies, a group that organizes sex parties timed to coincide with Circuit Parties here and elsewhere, and with major holidays. The message currently on the voice mail of Miami Beach Hardbodies goes like this: "Miami Beach Hardbodies has a strict door policy. Muscle guys only. That means hard, solid pecs and six-pack abs. Expect to take your shirt off to prove it. If you don't measure up, you don't get in."

To Signorile, that sums up everything that's wrong with the rise in steroid use among gay men. "These guys are already dealing with self-esteem issues, feeling less than other people," Signorile says. "To come into an environment where you have to prove masculinity like that is very damaging. It plays out badly in many men, who can become incredibly depressed."

Depression is not the only response of nonjuicing gay men, though. "Among those that are not using, it has evolved into the stereotypical joke in a way," says one gay Miami Beach resident who asked not to be named. "Are those really their pecs or implants? Do they really do 500 situps or do they take steroids? I don't know if catty is the best word, but there's definitely a lot of sarcasm."

This man and other anonymous sources also pointed to DiBiaso as one of the organizers of Miami Beach Hardbodies. DiBiaso would not confirm this but, speaking as an unabashed steroid-user, he defends such events from doomsayers like Signorile.

"I think the lady doth protest too much," he says archly of the writer. "If someone doesn't allow you in, you find a way to demonize them in order to justify your nonparticipation. And that's essentially what he's done. And I think his view has been very harmful to the gay community at large, because he factionalizes and divides a community that can survive only through unity. By being such a divisive element, he panders to those whose self-esteem is not what it could be or should be. And offers them a scapegoat as to why they feel the way you do."

"Michelangelo's very bitter," adds John, in a croaking imitation of gay actor Harvey Fierstein. "She went to a party and no one wanted to fuck her." DiBiaso bursts into laughter.

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