Peloton users are intimately aware of Cody Rigsby’s infectious personality and proclivity for finding strength in humorous self-deprecation. They are only a small selection of the traits that catapulted him into the fitness influencer spotlight while becoming a gay pop culture figure with the ability to bridge the cultural divide that all too often runs along regional lines.

The stories of how he influenced change in the minds of those with preconceived notions of LGBTQ+ people through his roles as a Peloton instructor and the company’s director of cycling are well-known and plentiful. Being perhaps the only window to open queerness that some experience via his joke-filled, motivational workout livestreams has a way of disarming others.

But Rigsby took that tool to even greater heights in 2023 with the release of his memoir XOXO, Cody: An Opinionated Homosexual’s Guide to Self-Love, Relationships, and Tactful Pettiness. The book saw Rigsby’s natural blend of motivational speech, laugh-conjuring humility and queer cultural insights turn inward to its highest degree yet, chronicling adversity and joy as they intertwined to make him the gay man he is today.

“I think a lot of a gay person’s life, we are battling these feelings and emotions that feel really right in our own self, but we have all these external influences telling us that we’re wrong, and that we’re bad,” Rigsby told USA Today shortly after the book’s release last September. “I think that what we gain is … a sense of not carrying a burden of other people’s expectations or opinions about ourselves. And I think it makes us really strong, and we go into the world really powerfully.”

The book pulls few punches, putting Rigsby on full display as he recounts various vulnerable memories in his life ranging from the death of a close friend to his relationship with his mother as she contended with drug addiction during his youth. Rigsby’s accounts of growing up as a closeted gay boy in the South and his coming out moment with his mother shed light on the determination he shows day in and day out to let his queer candle burn bright enough for the world to see.

At the same time, it resonates with so many who have their own tales of anxious feelings and intrusive thoughts when broaching the topic of openly sharing that facet of their identity with those they love and value for the first time.

Rigsby described queerness as a “superpower” in an interview with GLAAD VP of Communications Anthony Allen Ramos last year, and no better descriptor defines the effect that his openness has had during his rise in popularity. It’s on display every time he dedicates a workout (as well as his memoir) to “our dear lord and savior Britney Jean Spears.” His realness helped propel him into influencer partnerships with Lululemon and Chopt Creative Salad Co. over the last year.

The determination it took to harken back to his days as a dancer for Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj en route to becoming a finalist on Dancing With The Stars in 2021 finds some root in the drive to not just be accepted but to flourish in living openly as his true self.

It’s an empowering rallying point that speaks to queer people whether they hop on the bike to take in one of Rigsby’s classes or not. 

“It’s almost like such a privilege and beauty to be queer because we get to go through this journey of not loving ourselves but then we get to this place where we really do accept and love everything about us,” Rigsby said. “Our girliness, our flamboyance, maybe our masculinity; whatever it is we really get to celebrate that hopefully when we get to that good part of our lives. There’s always going to be people pushing back against your success, your joy, and you can’t let anybody ‘snatch your wigs’ in this space.”

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