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Speedos Is there any other piece of clothing which has the same fetish appeal as Speedos? Sure, white Y-fronts are always in hot demand, and a jockstrap is nothing to sneeze at, but when it comes to a piece of male apparel which is actually worshipped, Speedos are the leader of the pack.

It must be something about the way they so casually but insistently bundle the jewels of a man’s crown up into a neat package, adding a bit of sheen to the bulge in the process. Or maybe it’s in the way Speedos are so small and flimsy, and yet manage to contain something so big and fun.

Once derided by the nickname budgie smugglers, Speedos have remained a wardrobe essential ever since they first appeared on Sydney beaches in 1928.

We have thrilled as various swimmers, athletes and models appeared in the figure-hugging lycra, while lifesavers have turned many an ordinary day at the beach into an erotically charged visual feast.

While those ridiculous full-body suits the swimmers now wear at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games have robbed these events of visual magnificence, Speedos have thankfully not disappeared from the loins of water polo players or divers, as seen in deliciously small sizes on Canada’s Alexandre Despatie and Australia’s Robert Newbery weeks ago in Melbourne.

When it comes to the combination of a sexy man and his Speedos, one rule always applies -“ the tight and wetter, the better.

Straights They’re so easy to love and loathe. Just when one opposite sex-loving type is doing big things for hetero-homo harmony, another comes along and sabotages relations.

Politics are brilliant proof of this, as the Canberra civil unions bill stoush shows (think progressive ACT chief minister Jon Stanhope proposing the law versus John I’m not anti-homosexual Howard vowing to block it).

The conflicted gay-straight relationship also emerges each Mardi Gras, when hordes of heterosexuals march in or cheer the parade, while a smaller clique (led in past years by the fiercely heterosexual Fred Nile) usually snipes at the Oxford Street offerings.

Mardi Gras itself arguably fuelled this contradiction by effectively blocking straights from the post-parade parties for many years. Nowadays heterosexuals are free to party alongside their gay and lesbian friends -“ no doubt a win for tolerance and understanding.

But there’s still work to be done, even in ultra-gay suburbs like Darlinghurst, as recent cases of homophobic violence on Oxford Street show.

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