Sep 18, 2016

Chris Dickerson: The First Gay Black Bodbuilder

During the 1960s, bodybuilding was primarily the domain of white working-class men.  Female, black, and Asian bodybuilders were rare.  Segregation was still in place throughout the American South, making the logistics of competition difficult, and even in the more "liberal" North, racism was rampant, coloring competition judging.

But Chris Dickerson overcame the culture of racism and began breaking records.

Born in 1939, he began competing in the 1960s, and became the first African-American to win Junior Mr. USA (1966), Mr. California (1967),  and Mr. America (1967, 1970), and one of the first to win Mr. Olympia (1979, 1980, 1982).

He was also the first openly gay professional bodybuilder, coming out during the 1970s.

And in 1982, he was 43, the oldest Mr. Olympia in history.

That's a lot of barriers to break.

Sadly, he found little mainstream fame -- no advertising contracts, only a few tv appearances.

But the gay community loved him.

Chris worked as a physique model beginning in the 1960s,  and in the 1970s and 1980s made the rounds of all the physique magazines, including Muscle and Fitness.  Here he is posing on the cover of an Arabic bodybuilding magazine.

There are many nude photos, of course, including some for Colt Studios.

Today Chris is retired, living in Florida, and writing his memoirs.

1 comment:

  1. Chris Dickerson is a highly interesting case of an openly gay and successful bodybuilder even though he didn't get advertising contracts but I wonder why coming out harmed Bob Paris's bodybuilding career so much, especially taking into consideration the more than twenty years of separation between both cases. He came out in the '90s but he wasn't as nearly as successful as Chris Dickerson even though Bob Paris was a better bodybuilder than him.


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