“”This is it, the YMCA. Or Young Men's Christian Association. Although it's mostly old dudes, and a lot of un-Christian things go on in the showers.
|—Freight Train, The Cleveland Show|
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The Young Men's Christian Association was first founded in London in 1844 so young men who had come to the city to work in factories could have a place to go other than taverns or brothels where they would fall into sin. The YMCA's mission is to promote a healthy "spirit, mind, and body" and they came about during a clean living movement, a form of moral panic over perceived unhealthy living.
Today, YMCAs are found around the world. They have exercise facilities, swimming pools, and other wholesome activities where good Christian men can get into shape, build their muscles (muscular Christianity), and practice their wide stance. Without the presence of liquor and loose women there is obviously no temptation to sin at the "Y". Many of them used to rent rooms although they have been phasing this out because the "Y" wants a middle-class family image and has shed the reputation they had a few decades ago as a near-flophouse and a place where a young man could go. Or have they?
The gesture version of the name
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In modern culture
The Village People famously brought the YMCA to the disco floor with their 1978 eponymous hit song, which outed the previously covert homoerotic aspects of the organization. Also, it was a song that Donald Trump played quite a bit in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, and was his parting song on Inauguration Day.
- Larry Craig does the YMCA (Nov 2, 2007) YouTube.
- The Dallas YMCA has shed its flophouse image and toned itself up Texas Monthly Aug 1983, Page 92.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMdsZU2bYq0 It's actually pretty amusing.
- Mix - Village People - YMCA YouTube
- Why Trump is so obsessed with 'Y.M.C.A.' by Peter-Astrid Kane (December 15, 2020) SFGate.
- Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows, but Jesus. Not this. by Glynn Wilson (November 12, 2017) New American Journal.
- Locals Were Troubled by Roy Moore's Interactions with Teen Girls at the Gadsden Mall by Charles Bethea (November 13, 2017) The New Yorker.