I know the Olympics are supposed to be about athleticism, pageantry, global unity, and other catchphrases only used every four years, but let's face it: For many gay viewers it is about hotness. And this Olympic season, one sexy slice of man muscle has taken our own gold medal in men all around. Only one problem: He isn't competing this year.
Perhaps it is the inherently sexual XXX Olympiad moniker or the modern maturity of the Internet and its endless bounty of shirtless photos, but this year feels like the sexiest Olympics of all time. It is like God smashed his Abercrombie & Fitch piggybank above London and sprinkled the city with all our wettest dreams come to life. When David Beckham delivered the flame on a speedboat up the Thames, the Olympic torch was the second hottest thing in that watercraft. The parade of sexiness has barely abated since.
Nevertheless, some people actually care about who wins what. Those are the friends you have on Facebook who keep getting upset about spoilers. But everyone knew the women had won the Gold in gymnastics last week, and 36 million Americans still managed to find it in their hearts to tune in. Then again, we love these girls. As a country, we can't get enough of miniscule moppets flipping their hearts out on balance beams and mats, most of them with a better chance of sticking their landing on Mars than ever menstruating.
As much as people hate the spoilers, I have heard zero complaints about the quality of the eye candy this year. Even though he was already wet from the pool, barely legal British diver Tom Daley delighted his gay fans by showering himself with water, Flashdance-style, after the synchronized diving event. And let's not even talk about how he relaxes at home. Over in swimming, the old debate over Jacob vs. Edward seems like child's play compared with the battle between Lochte and Phelps for both medals and sexual attention. Even the rowers found a way to display their bronze medals with more than just stiff backs and firm oars.
In the run-up to the Olympics, one athlete emerged from the shadows, threatening to take prominence over all others just from the sheer force of his good looks. More importantly, he was a decathlete. Suddenly, the mushy, less sexy middle of the games seemed like it might be the most interesting since Bruce Jenner shot put his torso onto America's TV screens and cereal boxes in 1976. That this handsome newcomer might compete for his native Sweden instead of the United States seemed almost trivial. There was only one problem: He wasn't competing in the games at all.
Björn Barrefors first came to my attention after someone sent me a link to a collection of 18 sexy Olympic crotches. Yes, it is true: Someone spent a small part of their life just finding athletes with big packages in snug outfits. Barrefors is a student at the University of Nebraska, majoring in computer science, with a not insignificant minor in muscle tone.
The website included a cleverly altered image of Barrefors in which his crotch looks like a veritable cornucopia of genitalia. He actually took to his Twitter feed to dispel the notion that it was real, humbly describing it more than once as "very photoshop'd." Aside from fueling fantasies of outrageous genetic fortune, this posting is probably where the idea that he was competing in London came to be. The site has been a viral sensation, and so too the very believable idea that he is in the Olympics.
Barrefors took to Twitter a couple of times to dispel the rumor, starting on July 27, stating flatly "I'm not in the Olympics." Despite that, hot photos of Barrefors continued to circulate through social media, and his Twitter following expanded. "So I just went up 200 followers in a week before Olympics w/o going there," he tweeted on July 29. "Don't really get it."
But we get it. Barrefors is a gay fever dream come to life. Even without the digital assistance of Photoshop, there is not a flaw on that man, from head to toe. He embodies exactly what we want from the Olympics: the guilt-free pleasure of staring at hot men. Unfortunately, in our enthusiastic fervor, we revealed our true motives by championing the wrong champion.
But fear not, the next summer Olympics will be in Rio, arguably the sexiest destination ever. And we might even see a familiar torso working it all out in the stadium. On Aug. 3, Barrefors again took to Twitter to tamp down the rumors of his impending stardom at the XXX Olympics and offered a glimmer of hope for our XXXI future: "Next time," he tweeted, capped off with a smiley emoticon. Just enough flirt to keep us going another four years. See you there, Björn Barrefors. See you there.