Athlete, performer and storyteller Alex Archer effortlessly weaves in and out of these roles as a full-time pole fitness instructor and revels in the beauty of teaching, noting that the student-teacher relationship is symbiotic where there is always more to learn. “You never stop being a student,” he says. 

Coming from a wholeheartedly accepting and progressive family, his journey of self-discovery through sexual identity, fluidity or gender presentation was always encouraged and supported.

However, in the early stages of trying to understand who he was, the pool for finding other out and proud gay, trans men was quite small, if not altogether absent.

Competing In Mr Pole Dance World

Archer has opened a space in the queer community, bringing light to the pole world as a trans, “mostly gay male” (he qualifies himself as a “man, loosely” as he previously identified as non-binary but has since become more comfortable with being seen as a man) and amplified the diversity and wide acceptance by people in the pole dancing world by showcasing the inclusion of trans and gender diverse people in competitions, himself included. 

Not unfamiliar to the world of training and discipline with fourteen years of violin-playing under his belt and years of competitive boxing prior to pole, Archer explains that these sports were harsh on the body and “required many to fit a certain type of beauty standard.”

Archer has relished in the challenges that pole has since brought and competed in Mr Pole Dance World for the first time last year, the only men’s pole dancing competition held on a global stage, and placed runner up in the amateur division. 

Born This Way

A performer at heart, Archer enthusiastically ruminates on his debut performance at Mr Pole and the art of storytelling. It was his first time in a graded competition.

Archer opened with Christina Aguilera’s Reflection, dancing alongside powerful words which sang, “I won’t pretend that I’m someone else for all time/ When will my reflection show who I am inside?” before the mixtape smoothly shifted into Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, showing him taking off his top and parading around proudly while decked out in six-inch platforms. The song choices, he explains, parallels his own gender transition story. 

Assigned female at birth, Alex speaks of the difficulties of navigating gender identity, sexuality, and frustrations with gender dysphoria.

A Body Is A Body

Where stripping off and standing in front of a mirror to contemplate your reflection might seem mundane, doing so as a trans man prior to his medically supported transition bred discomfort. These waves of malaise are common with many trans individuals before they are “able to feel like their physical exterior matches their interior.”

Pole has not only allowed Archer to gain confidence in his own body but also taught him “body neutrality,” which helped him feel more comfortable in his skin. At the end of the day, he says, “a body is a body.” A blank canvas. 

A strong believer in the rich diversity and inclusiveness of the pole community, Archer hopes to bring more people together from all walks of life to try their hand at pole, enlightening them with the beauty of tricks and of stepping out of one’s comfort zone.

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