trying on mens underwear with another guy in the same dressing room?

so i was at the mall today and i have a 15 dollar gift card to a department store. so i asked him what i could get. we started looking at underwear together and we found so… i said should we go try them on.. so we went in the same little room thing and we just took everything off and put them on.. i was getting hard when i saw his dick. but i dont know if he is also gay. then we went to the bathroom and put them ontogther in the family changing thing and did it again. do you think he is gay? how can i know for sure? help!

im dont wanna ask if hes gay cause im not out of the closet yet

we are both 15 but im not sure if he got hard… and idk i just want to know

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I’m a man in my 20s. I’m currently dating a great girl, and I’m confident in my sexuality. However, ever since I was a preteen, I’ve had a fetish that seems to only be getting stronger. I get really turned on by being naked in locker rooms—by both the voyeurism and exhibitionism. I’m fit and well equipped and get lots of looks from other guys at my gym. I don’t think they are gay, either. I look, too, but never stare. I also find myself masturbating to locker room videos online, most of which I think are filmed without permission. On top of this, on a forum for guys into the same thing, I met a married guy in my city who says he sometimes masturbates in locker room shower stalls and catches all kinds of guys peeking. I have to admit that idea turns me on a lot. I feel some guilt about this—even if I am not leering and am acting normal for the most part, it’s very sexual for me and I know it would make other guys uncomfortable. I also feel some shame, despite knowing for sure I’m into girls, and I’m afraid of how my girlfriend would react if she saw the porn. I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong. It’s definitely not going away, though.

Stoya: Since I’m at peak PMS, I want to zero in on this writer’s shame. You feel some shame, despite knowing for sure you’re into girls? Let’s unpack that. I see hints of internalized homophobia in that line, and I think he’d be a lot more comfortable if he dealt with it.

Rich: Jane Ward’s 2015 book Not Gay kicked off a lot of discourse about “straight” guys who engage in “gay” sex, and I think it did a real disservice to nuance by being totally credulous of self-labeling. Given the societal pressure to be straight and the history of closeted gay, bi, and queer men saying one thing and doing another, I don’t necessarily think we need to take people at their word when they say they’re straight and do things that suggest otherwise.

Stoya: I’d go further. I think we struggle to self-report our sexuality across the board. There’s the genital response study from a few decades ago that focused on “arousal nonconcordance.”

Rich: Agreed, it’s hardly confined to “straight guys.”

Rich: Right. I think what happens is people say, to themselves, “Well, gay/bi/queer people are like this.” And their image is some stereotype that they see as negative. And so they reject labels. I think that it makes sense to acknowledge a fundamental difference in the sexuality of someone who seeks sexual contact and/or experiences with men, no matter in what form or frame, and someone who does not. Sure, you can think of labels as being confining, but you can also think of your own existence as helping to expand the parameters of such labels.

Stoya: I am hearing more about the latter lately: people who are a bit queer but read as straight cis guys and continue to identify as straight cis guys to expand that definition, specifically.

Rich: Ah, yes, I guess that’s the other label that can be expanded. I tend to think of “straight” as being unwaveringly narrow (does not have or desire to have sex or sexual contact with members of the same sex) and queer as the wavering, from the slightest pulse to seismic vibrations. Regardless, you like what you like! As long as it’s consensual, you’re better off embracing it—and if you’re not acknowledging it in your self-identification, I don’t know that you’re embracing it.

Which I guess brings us to the question of consent in this writer’s exhibitionist kink.

Stoya: This one is tricky. We can’t tell him to stay out of the locker room. Working out is great for people. And bathing after is probably good.

Rich: It’s 100 percent socially acceptable to be nude in a locker room too.

Stoya: You sort of have to if you’re going to shower. Never-nudes aside.

Rich: Or the people who put on a towel to take their underwear off, which is so awkward and often results in slippage that negates the point.

Stoya: The furtive quality of his kink might heighten the experience for him, too.

Rich: True, though I will say that men’s locker rooms are explicitly erotically charged in New York. I could count on my hand the number of times I haven’t been masturbated at in a steam room or sauna.

Stoya: Seriously? Do you go to particularly gay gyms?

Rich: Not even! My God, on Valentine’s Day a few years ago there was a note on the steam room door: “Due to inappropriate behavior, Men’s Sauna and Steam Room has been shut down until further notice.” The whole shower area was just a cruising ground. Guys walking back and forth, and then going from the steam room to the sauna.

Rich: No doubt. Locker rooms are really their own universe. I was buddies with a couple whose rules were “We only play together unless one of us is in a steam room, in which case all bets are off.” Locker room play was written into their verbal contract! I get how this guy is particularly turned on.

Stoya: Y’all make circus people look puritanical. And the situation just got stickier. Because some people would be thrilled to know what this guy is feeling, while others would feel violated.

Rich: Yeah, and it does strike me that for straight guys who just want a steam and have no interest in jerking off with another guy, it really must suck. (I should note that some gyms have strict policies, and anyone caught dick-in-hand runs the risk of losing their membership or even legal trouble.) I’m not a big fan of public sex, so it kind of sucks for me too, actually. I just don’t go into them.

Stoya: Whatever the case, the locker room is probably a different story though.

Rich: I do wonder if it’s just like that in NYC or what. I went to a gym’s sauna in Colorado Springs and it was not sexual at all.

Stoya: The other guy mentioned here claims to have jerked off in stalls and lives in the same city, so our writer either lives in NYC or NYC is not an outlier.

Rich: To your previous point, I think in general he should pump the brakes and only show off to guys who obviously want to see him. You know, there are glances, and then there are glances. If he wants to jerk off, he could treat one of those guys to a private show in a stall with the curtain closed. Although the same risks apply as in a sauna or steam room, and we’re entering cheating territory with his girlfriend, if we haven’t already been there the whole time.

Stoya: Yeah, this is where the girlfriend’s consent comes into play too. There’s a line past which she’ll feel cheated on, and he needs to establish that line, which means coming clean with the girlfriend whose reaction he fears.

Rich: Yes, and regardless of her reaction, I hope that he can understand that his desires—exhibitionism and voyeurism with other men—are 100 percent OK in the abstract. It seems like the main attraction is that this is happening in a locker room, but I wonder if a masturbation club would be useful for him.

Rich: I was reading about them today, and there are a lot of self-identified straight guys who like to jerk off with other dudes. From Slate’s piece on them: “The results of ‘Is mutual masturbation gay?’ were 465 to 100 that mutual masturbation is not gay.”

Stoya: As though anything is binary like that, but yes.

Rich: Right. I think that’s the main thing. As not gay as it may be, it’s also not not gay. And take it from me, that’s OK!

Stoya: Even if the girlfriend freaks out and turns into a shame monster, it’s OK. Even if he’s feeling confused and shameful himself, he’s OK.

Rich: Even if this is as far as he ever wants to go with guys, he’s OK.

Stoya: Even if he goes all the way through to taking a dick the size of my arm up his butt, he’s OK, and he can identify however he wants. But he really might want to deal with his feelings around that before he broaches the subject with his girlfriend or strides into the steam room.

Stoya: I don’t believe his first line where he says he’s confident in his sexuality.

Rich: That was a dog whistle of insecurity, which is totally reasonable to have in a world that’s most welcoming to heteros. It’s not right, but it’s OK.

 Recently in How to Do It

Today I had to refuse a gay couple from sharing a fitting room together

With the Pride parade in Vancouver, I am reminded that something as simple as this situation mirrors a continuing overcoming of heteronormativity in society. The Pride parade didn’t come from nowhere, it started as a political march in response to police raids against LGBTQ+ people at a gay bar in New York in 1969. The stonewall riot in New York happened for a reason.

A couple of days ago at work I had to refuse a couple – a gay couple – from sharing a fitting room at the retail store I work at. As I tried to explain that “our company policy” doesn’t allow two people to share a room, I felt their sense of victimization as a gay couple being singled out.

“We are married” as he showed me the ring on his finger as he and his husband walked into the same room. In this moment, I should have clarified that our policy restricts anyone, even couples regardless of orientation from sharing a fitting room.

“But you let that other (straight) couple share a room.”

“The man’s arm is broken so his wife is helping him,” I replied.

The couple didn’t look convinced, and neither did I as they both closed the door as I told them, “sorry, it’s just our policy that two people can’t use the same room.”

I told a co-worker about the situation who went to them, in a more assertive manner, telling them repeatedly to “please come out” until one man left the room dissatisfied.

I tried to be cheerful and told him, “congratulations on your marriage”. To my ignorance he replied, “we’ve been married for (insert respectable amount of time/years) that I could not hear in the heap of the noise and chaos working in retail embodies. He walked away.

In this short moment, I felt mixed. I felt their sense of othering, and I felt empathy for them as I envisioned myself in their situation, as a gay man being refused our dignity and rights. I was worried I was causing a scene and that I was embarrassing them, and I wanted to tell them not to take it personally, because, I like them, felt what they were going through.

With the Pride parade in Vancouver, I am reminded that something as simple as this situation mirrors a continuing overcoming of heteronormativity in society. The Pride parade didn’t come from nowhere, it started as a political march in response to police raids against LGBTQ+ people at a gay bar in New York in 1969. The stonewall riot in New York happened for a reason.

I am very pleased that this year’s Pride parade in Vancouver included an agreement for marchers to sign stating their recognizing and commitment to trans*/transgender rights and freedoms. The initial Pride parade was political, and the fight for equality transgender and gender variant people is a very real political issue.

When I think of that gay couple that felt denied a right to share the same fitting room, I am reminded of struggles they may have faced in the past. Just maybe, could companies, politicians, and elected officials further entrench policies that guarantee and secure a person’s legal right to not be discriminated or denied essential services?

As much as gay rights have been achieved in a majority of Western states, the absence of legal protection, condemnation, and execution of homosexuals is a reality for many people globally. When 76 countries worldwide have laws against homosexuality, I know I cannot say that our rights as a community have been met if only my immediate surroundings have made progress to some extent.

And I say only to some extent because when a gay couple wants to use a change room, they shouldn’t have to feel that they are being discriminated. When discrimination has become a norm, when trans* people, racialized minorities, and women succumb to this daily reality of being treated as second-class citizens not because they are weak, but because social forces are too entrenched in our every day lives, social change is needed.

Today I had to refuse a gay couple from sharing a fitting room together

Watch: Gay Rugby Players Strip in Locker Room Shoot

The Kings Cross Steelers pose in a new shoot for Meat magazine.

To mark their 20th anniversary as the UK’s first gay rugby team, the Kings Cross Steelers stipped down and posed for a new book to be published by indie ‚zine Meat.

Entitled Meat The Kings Cross Steelers, the book features 29 players from the team’s 200-strong membership. All the players were photographed by Meat’s founder, Adrian Lourie.

Lourie, who started Meat in 2010, said that he was “tired of the body shaming that goes on within the gay community.” His aim is to “celebrate the bodies of ‘ordinary gay men.”

Christopher Kang, 1st XC player of The Kings Cross Steelers, who is featured in Meat, also agrees with Lourie in regards to male body image.

“I see myself as a pretty average looking-dude so I don’t really see myself as a pin-up anything,” Kang said. “So I’m chuffed that I’ve had the good fortune of joining a long line of Meat magazine dudes alongside so many of my fellow Steelers. The Steelers has not only helped pave the way for inclusive rugby teams but also helped hanged perceptions about gay sportsmen.”

Alex Smith, Chairman of the Kings Cross Steelers said: “Despite so much progress over the last 20 years, it can still be very difficult to be an out gay man, made even more so by a lot of unhelpful noise around how to be, act or look within the community. That’s why I’m proud that the Kings Cross Steelers have partnered with Meat to help show that anyone can be a pin-up by simply being yourself.”

He added: “For two decades, our club has helped hundreds of men – big, small, gay or straight – realize the great maxim about rugby: that it is a game for people of all shapes and sizes – truly a sport for everyone.”

If the pictures aren’t enough, be sure to watch the teasers for more of the hunky team’s players:

Watch: Gay Rugby Players Strip in Locker Room Shoot

Before there was Grindr…

Wikipedia defines “cruising” as “walking or driving about a locality in search of a sex partner, usually of the anonymous, casual, one-time variety.” 

This is a fair definition, but some guys would define cruising more loosely: a basic sex hunt, not something you specifically set out to do but rather something you are always doing. We do it on the subway and in the office and anywhere a handsome gentleman might lift his shirt to wipe sweat off his forehead. In our minds, we lift his shirt the rest of the way and tug on the brim of his trousers with our teeth. 

If you make eye contact with him and discover (wordlessly and without complete certainty) that you are both interested, then voila! You’ve cruised. Now all you have to do is work up the courage to talk to him, give him your number, or nod to the exit. The following hookup may happen in your apartment, in a public restroom, or in the alley out back. Wherever you choose, you are engaging in an art that gay and bi men have been perfecting for decades. 

Check out these 24 classic cruising zones, some of which yielded better results in years past and many that are still used today. Happy hunting!

Before there was Grindr...

Above: Alex lurking in a park

My name is Alexander Cheves, and I am known by friends in the kink and leather community as Beastly. I am a sex-positive writer and blogger. The views in this slideshow do not reflect those of The Advocate and are based solely on my own experiences. As with everything I write, the intent of this piece is to break down the stigmas surrounding the sex lives of gay men.

Those who are sensitive regarding frank discussions about sex are invited to click elsewhere, but consider this: If you are outraged by content that addresses sex openly and honestly, I invite you to examine this outrage and ask yourself whether it should instead be directed at those who oppress us by policing our sexuality.

For all others, enjoy the slideshow. And feel free to leave your own suggestions for sex and dating topics in the comments.

1. Bathhouses

Before anyone tries to convince you that bathhouses are no fun — that they are filled with creepy onlookers and tweaked-out drug addicts — go to one. Go to Steamworks in Chicago or Berkeley, Club Dallas, or any of the Flex spas across the country. If you are a kink pig looking for slings over saunas, find your nearest Slammer. If these are not options in your city, plan a trip. Big cities like Los Angeles and New York have bathhouses that, depending on the night, may have better crowds than the national chains — North Hollywood Spa, Tampa Men’s Club, Denver Swim Club. 

The Everard Baths in New York City was the most written-about bathhouse in history until it closed in 1986 at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Everard was open for almost 100 years and was visited by such gay luminaries as Gore Vidal and Truman Capote. Today, New York is filled with cruising grounds, but its number of bathhouses has noticeably dwindled. 

There are several reasons for this. Yes, AIDS was a devastating hit, one that made us fear the sexual spaces we used to roam. But other social changes contributed. The closet drew many men to bathhouses where they could cruise freely before returning home to their wives. For them, bathhouses were a necessity — spaces frequented out of need and desire. Gay life has changed since then. 

I have heard some younger gay men — guys closer to my age — say they would never set foot in a bathhouse “because they are filled with old guys.” Let’s face a fact: This is often true. Many of the bathhouses I’ve been to are filled with older men, but this fact neither diminishes the fun to be had in them or takes away from their experience. Let go of your needless ageism and try something new. 

There is something great about being naked in a gay space. Bathhouses are a dichotomy. hey are both erotic and comfortable, foreign and familiar. If you’ve never been to one and are ready to take the plunge, check out my article “10 Tips For Your First Trip To The Bathhouse” on

2. Public Parks

City parks were once the cruising grounds for gay men. In New York in the 1970s, public parks where places where you could not only find a hot guy but bang him in the bushes too. 

Parks are harder to cruise today. Police patrolling has amped up, and there are obvious safety risks to cruising parks at night. 

3. Beaches

Antonio Da Silva has a thing for public cruising. The Portuguese director makes short films that blur the lines between documentary and pornography, art and voyeurism — which means his films are great. His 13-minute explicit film Beach 19 peeks in on the activities at a popular gay beach in Portugal. 

While a trip to Portugal or Limanakia Beach in Greece (another famous gay beach) sounds awesome, outdoor cruising and nature sex can be found in the United States too. Baker Beach in San Francisco, Black’s Beach in San Diego, Maui’s Little Beach, and of course Fire Island Pines, a historic gay dreamland, are still fun places to visit. And while you might not be able to have sex on the beach itself (at least not in the daylight), you can still find a partner to take home. A note on the Pines: Few guys get naked on the beach itself, but many wander to the little “anything goes” coastal forest nearby. 

I must here give a word of caution. Public sex always invites the risk of getting caught by someone other than a voyeur or hot participant. Law enforcement, unsuspecting passersby, and happy children can stumble by. While this risk is totally part of the fun, getting caught can land you in jail. 

The Advocate is not responsible for your incarceration should you choose to participate in “public lewdness” — a funny term invented by lawmakers that we must take seriously. You will find the term “public lewdness” on warnings posted in gay-heavy gyms (“Any public lewdness in the steam room will result in immediate termination of membership and possible legal action”) and cruising hotspots where a manager has caught wind of what’s been going on. In most cases it means anal or oral sex — flashing your junk in areas that are not clothing-optional is called “indecent exposure.” 

4. Piers

A cursory history of gay New York must include the West Side piers — a gay landmark that, for many gay men in the ’70s, was the epicenter of the art and sex movement that happened between Stonewall and the onset of the AIDS epidemic. The piers weren’t much to look at — a series of decaying wood and steel structures jutting into the Hudson River from Christopher Street up to Chelsea — but their location as well as their storied nightly sex spots solidified their place as the most famous gay cruising site in the United States. Take a pilgrimage to see them — it will be bittersweet, considering how many died during the plague years — but save the public cruising for one of New York’s many gay nightclubs. 

Above image: Shelley Seccombe, „Sunbathing on the Edge, Pier 52“ (1977), contemporary archival digital print, source:

5. Gay Bars

Like all other parts of gay culture, gay bars have changed. Many of their playrooms have been converted into well-lit lounges or additional bar space — a fact that makes me die a little. And (you guessed it) hookup apps have all but gutted these spaces of the crowds that used to flock them. But the quintessential gay bar — that tawdry dive with a rainbow flag in the window and a glory hole in the bathroom — is important, because long before chat rooms and mobile apps, gay bars were some of our original cruising zones. Sexual overtones aside, gay bars were places where we could meet, organize, let loose, and foster community.

I haven’t figured out the formula of what makes a gay bar stay open, but I imagine there are many factors: hot bartenders, hot crowds, and the seemingly unavoidable threat of getting priced out. I almost never go to nongay bars, because I give my dollars to spaces that exist for me. Keep our sanctuaries alive! 

6. Discothèques

The birthplace of gay circuit parties, underground discothèques were where gay men danced in the ’70s — and have not stopped since. 

But first, a clarification: “discothèque” is a term rarely used in the United States anymore — most people simply say “club” or “dance club” — but you can still find self-identified discothèques in Europe. 

The beauty of dancing in a room full of gay men (and typically getting high with them) is something I can hardly describe. When I have those nights, I feel part of a gay tradition that started in the pre-AIDS sex reverie, survived a plague, and is still alive today. 

Different scholars, homos, club kids, and gay partiers will argue when dance clubs really came into being, but their significance in gay culture (and gay cruising) is undeniable. Their bathrooms have long been homes to cruising and gay sex. 

10. Gayborhood Streets

If New York’s Christopher Street taught us anything, it is that a street in a gay part of town is the ultimate cruising ground. I applaud the guys who make hookups happen simply from exchanging glances with the men they pass on the sidewalk. Doing so takes game, body-reading skills, improvisation, and guts. I have not mastered the art of street cruising, but I have felt that heightened tension when walking down a sidewalk in a gayborhood — the Castro in San Francisco, the streets of Hell’s Kitchen, Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood — and knowing that I am in cruise territory. The eyes are on you.

11. Gyms

Second to circuit parties, gyms are some of the most erotic places in the world. A place where sweaty guys work out in minimal clothing, strip in front of each other, take showers, and sometimes sit together in a steam room is going to be a gay cruise zone — how could it be anything else?

Some gyms will have a stronger cruising vibe than others, depending on the neighborhood. Gayborhood gyms are almost asking for public sex, while gyms in smaller towns and conservative communities might be higher risk. In general, though, you are bound to face some repercussion if you get caught by a staff member. 

12. Coffee Shops

Many people, myself included, like to people-watch at coffee shops. Coffee shops are places where you can retreat from the bustle of life, read a book, do some work on the computer, and sip your overpriced lavender mocha. A good coffee shop has a feeling of de-stress and coziness. And since I love being around men — their presence automatically makes me feel comfortable, like being in a locker room — I love coffee shops in gay neighborhoods. Cruising comes naturally to these places, since people-watching and cruising are basically the same thing, and what better way to lick the foam off your lips than having someone lick it off for you?

13. Bookstores

My parents suspected I was gay years before I even knew what “gay” meant — maybe all that finger-painting and borrowing my mom’s eyebrow pencil gave something away — and they installed a parental blocker on our Internet that blocked absolutely everything. The blocker restricted sites according to keywords. “Gay,” I later learned, was one of them. 

Internet porn was never an option, so I didn’t grow up missing it. When we went shopping, my parents would leave me in Barnes & Noble for hours while they went with my sister to try on jeans. Parents, if you don’t want your kids to be gay, do not leave them alone in a bookstore. 

Barnes & Noble is a treasure trove of homosexuality. I discovered the seminal book by Charles Silverstein and Edmund White in the LGBT section when I was 10. And the magazines! Unzipped, Attitude, and The Advocate were my first signs of gay life; the first proof I had that others were out there. When I stumbled across , a collection of erotic male photography by David E. Armstrong, my life was changed forever. I grabbed the book and ran to the restroom. I sat in a stall for an hour, turning the pages slowly, trembling. 

Several years later, when I was able to drive to bookstores by myself, I was again sitting in the bathroom of Barnes & Noble, probably looking through a copy of Unzipped magazine, when the guy in the stall next to me said, “Hey…you okay, dude?” And that was the first time I had public sex. 

Bookstores are pits of sin. Visit them as often as you can. Literacy is important. 

15. Cafés and local gay-owned businesses

Gay-owned businesses are not always cruising zones, but LGBT people tend to feel comfortable in them and patronize them, so you are more likely to find an guy who is down-to-fuck in, say, your local gay-owned ice cream shop than Ben & Jerry’s. 

We support these businesses because we assume their workers have workplace protections and/or same-sex partner benefits, and we assume that their environments, if they cater to the public, are at least LGBT-friendly. This is why your local gay-owned café is probably a cruising zone. Maybe it is located in a gayborhood, or maybe it is the one business in your conservative town where you can be yourself. Visit often, be friends with the people who work there, and keep an eye peeled — ready and restless guys are around every corner. 

16. Barbershops

I knew my barber was a keeper the first time I sat in his chair: “I want a typical gay haircut. Zero on the sides.”

“Say no more,” he said. Unlike all the straight barbers I have had in the past, my barber is a 6-foot-tall sweetheart who knows exactly what haircuts gay men are wearing these days (undercuts, fauxhawks, pompadours, high-and-tights). But what he did not know is that his shop is total cruising zone. That is, until I filled him in. 

“Dude, every gay man in town gets haircuts from you,” I said one day while he was trimming my ear line, “and since I can’t move my head, I am literally forced to look at all the guys waiting. I’m practically on display.” 

Many barbershops are cruising zones, especially if they have gay-heavy clientele. As we wait, we are watching men being groomed, knowing that at some point we will be up there, turned and swiveled for the guys to inspect from every angle.

17. Waiting Rooms

Following the logic of the barbershop, any waiting room can be a cruising zone. The waiting area for the health clinic at the Los Angeles LGBT Center was a total cruise fest. You can feel the cruising vibes as soon as you walk in and sign your name — always wear something sexy when you go get blood work done. 

I have never been to a gay AA or CMA (crystal meth) meeting, but I have heard from friends who attend them that these groups are notorious eye wars. The erotic vibe is heightened, they say, from the fact that you’re in a room full of gay men who already know something personal about you. This makes sense to me because I have attended a few HIV support groups, especially after I first tested positive, and the cruising vibes were strong. 

In these cases, however, I am not sure “cruising” is the correct word. People come together and need each other when they are in difficult places, and sometimes sex is part of that. In my lowest moments, I have cruised for sex simply because I needed to be around someone else or forget my problems for a little bit. There is something important about this type of cruising, because while it might not be totally healthy, it is totally human. 

19. Craigslist

Craigslist was launched out of San Francisco in 1995. Almost immediately, people began posting personal ads for sex services, companionship, kink, and to satisfy every fetish you can imagine, from sitting on cakes to voyeurism to some considerably darker fare (minors, cannibalism, you name it). Craigslist changed the game for men seeking men. 

Sites catering exclusively to gay dating and personals came later. launched in 1996, Manhunt in 2001, and Adam4Adam in 2005. Gay sex sites came with them — (colloquially shortened to BBRT by users) and are still my favorites. Gay cruising had found its home on the web, and suddenly we needed to spend more time in front of our computers. 

20. Grindr

In 2009, the fabric of gay life changed again. In the future, we will look back at a massive turning in gay culture — when gay hookup apps, which locate other users through the geolocation devices in your smartphone, hit the market. Joel Simkhai launched Grindr, with its distinct orange skull/hockey mask icon, on March 25. 

In 2012, Grindr had 4 million users in 192 countries across the globe, with 1.1 million users online every day. Based in the United States, the app reported usage as far away as Iraq, Israel, and Kazakhstan. Those numbers have doubtlessly increased today. 

Any mention of Grindr in 2016 will inevitably result in some eye rolls. Tiresome arguments between guys who hate hookup apps and guys who love them continue to rage across gay media outlets. Some say Grindr and other apps have destroyed gay life. Others say they have simply redefined it. Regardless which side you fall on, hookup apps are here to stay. 

I think the success of hookup apps was fairly foreseeable. If you give gay men an effortless way to hunt for sex on-the-go, everywhere they go, all the time, they are going to go for it. We have always have been doing this — Grindr simply made cruising easier. 

21. Scruff

I have to admit my bias here — I’m a Scruff guy. Scruff was launched in 2010, the year after Grindr hit the app store. Scruff is an app that essentially does the same Grindr does, but with different features (unlimited profile text, more in-app search tools) and, some would argue, catered to a slightly different user base. In 2015, Scruff reported 8 million users worldwide. 

I like Scruff’s unlimited profile text — goodness knows I’m long-winded — along with the app’s attention to minority demographics within the gay community like leather guys and HIV-positive guys (both groups I fall into). Read my article about Scruff’s inclusion of PrEP in its list of safe sex practices, which were included in the launch of Scruff 5 last year. 

Today, there are dozens of gay dating apps in addition to these two: Daddyhunt, GROWLr, Jack’d, Hornet, Mr. X, and many others all trying to get in on the action. Take your pick.

23. Circuit Parties

Real Bad. Magnitude. Papa Party. Black Party (The Saint At Large). White Party Miami (the whole week of it). White Party Palm Springs. Black & Blue in Montreal. Purple Party in Dallas. Winter Party Miami. Gay Days Orlando. The Pines Party on Fire Island. Southern Decadence. Fireball. The list goes on, and on, and on. All over the world, from Tel Aviv to Rio de Janeiro, gay circuit parties have turned modern gay life into something global and glamorous — and expensive.

Cruise culture has changed — no doubt about that. Some guys say cruising is dead, simply because it is harder to cruise for sex in public now. Train stations, parks, and public restrooms have more security personnel and fewer cruising patrons — particularly when many guys can just sit at home and hookup on Scruff. 

Cruise culture is alive, but it has been monetized. Circuit parties, which are essentially massive cruising fests, are beautiful, expensive things that cater to gay men with enough disposable income to afford tickets and travel (and clothes, and drugs, and hotel rooms, and harnesses, and all the many other costs that inevitably factor in). 

My impulse is to wag my finger at an industry that caters to the rich — but I also love circuit parties. Why? Because they are evidence that “free love” is back and gay men are celebrating their sex lives again. After the devastation of the AIDS epidemic and after generations of gay men seeing their lifestyles portrayed in ugly ways, the feeling of being in a warehouse filled with gay men celebrating themselves and their sex is radical and life-changing. It is a feeling I think every gay man should experience. 

24. Backrooms

I saved the best for last. The proverbial “playroom,” “dark room,” or “backroom” is a lights-off, “anything goes” space typically used for sex and drugs, and were once common features of gay establishments. 

If you’ve ever been in a gay dance club or leather bar and wondered what that dark hallway across from the bathrooms is used for, this is it. Backrooms are relics of an earlier time, when managers and owners generously created a space where their patrons could do what they needed to do with each other and looked the other way — or perhaps joined in. But gay bars today are now flocked with bridesmaids and visited by health inspectors and must struggle to stay afloat in a world where hookup apps have hurt their business, meaning backrooms have all but disappeared. 

Backrooms are useful when you’re a little fucked up and the guy you’ve been dancing with and rubbing on the dance floor decides to take matters into his own hands. It is true that you don’t really cruise in the backroom. You cruise on the dance floor — backrooms are where the cruising takes you. 

I love backrooms and see them along with public cruising as part of the same picture, one that composes a big part of our history as gay men. Regardless of your views on sex, cruising defined our world at one point. It was how we met each other, how we fell in love, and constituted the whole of our sex lives years before apps and websites would take out all the guesswork (and, for many, all the fun as well). 

Be on the lookout for a cruising zone near you. One is closer than you think.

Magazine spread above from Life, June 26, 1964, photographed by Bill Eppridge.

How HBO’s ‘Euphoria’ tackled a fear that many men have

In the second episode of Euphoria, HBO’s new drama about naughty teenagers, hunky football player Nate, played by Jacob Elordi, is shown fully clothed in the middle of a boisterous locker room filled with his naked teammates and their exposed penises.

While the other bros wag their dicks about in slow motion, Nate looks straight ahead, desperate not to be caught staring at a flailing phallus. “He hated how casual his teammates were about being naked,” the show’s narrator, Zendaya’s Rue, says of Nate. “He made a concerted effort to always maintain eye contact… Every now and then he’d forget, and accidentally catch a glimpse of someone’s penis.”

I too have had a contentious relationship with locker room nudity. If you’re an American male under the age of 35, chances are you did as well, or probably still do. It’s no coincidence that the word describing a constant fear of nudity is, after all, gymnophobia.

My gymnophobia began in sixth grade when I was told by my father, the athletic director of my school district, I had to change clothes before gym class in front of my peers. I seethed with resentment. Didn’t he know I had to shield my little-boy body from scrutiny at all costs? While everyone else seemed to be growing like trees, sprouting razor-thin mustaches, and developing bushes of pubes (or so I imagined), if you put me in a wig, I was a dead ringer for that pint-sized definition of 90’s femininity, Polly Pocket.

It was the end of 1999. Everyone else was waiting to see if Y2K would kill the world’s computers once the Ball finally dropped, but I could only think about the balls dropping between my thighs. Thus, I concocted a foolproof plan to avoid disrobing in the locker room. I’d wear athletic shorts underneath my perfectly pleated school khakis, and before gym class began, drop my drawers faster than a Broadway chorus boy in a quick change and bolt out of the locker room. I kept up this charade up throughout high school. If I lingered among changing males, I thought I’d accidentally look at someone the wrong way, be seen as the faggot I knew I was, and meet my untimely demise — social or otherwise.

As a result, the only naked male bodies I saw until adulthood were mostly on film and all related to sex. These bodies included Kevin Bacon’s at the end of Wild Things (yowza), my father’s when I accidentally walked in on him and my mom once (yuck), and gay porn (yum).

I managed to escape locker room nudity until I moved to New York City for my post-collegiate career. Going to the gym in my new home, however, provided a host of unforeseen challenges. Most notably, it necessitated on-site changing and showering. I quickly mastered the art of towel changing. This magic trick, I soon learned, is practiced ubiquitously in male locker rooms across America. Even in adulthood, I was like a chaste Catholic school girl in the changing room. My towel becomes a pleated skirt as I slip off undergarments like a clumsy burlesque performer. The act is done with my back to an empty audience, desperate to protect my body’s most vulnerable bits from someone who isn’t actually watching.

Why are young men still so reticent to show skin in a culture that shares so much?

There are those, like Euphoria’s Nate, who avert eye contact in the hopes their feigned disinterest in cock will mask their true penile preoccupation. If their eyes are windows into a queer soul, they make sure to use blackout curtains while disrobing around men. Then there’s the self-obsessed heterosexual character who fears a gay man’s lust-filled gaze. Pompously assuming he’s worthy of sexual attention, he’s terrified homosexuals will eat him with their irises. The Golden Globe for Most Insidious Gymnophobe goes to the man who initially seems unabashed by flashing his booty. Only after unrobing, he shows his true colors by slapping asses, snapping towels, and making crude gay jokes as a means to mask his underlying insecurities.

Unlike these self-conscious archetypes is The Grandpa, who struts around locker rooms without worry. He droops and dangles as he walks the length of a locker room floor with the carelessness of a runway model. He chats openly about the day’s banalities and actually takes time to dry before putting on his clothes. He’s a soldier of manhood with an unsheathed trouser snake, standing unapologetically nude with his arms akimbo. But this character’s sitcom will soon be canceled. Young men don’t act this way.

Internalized homophobia isn’t the only reason we fear nudity. Psychoanalyst Dr. Vanessa Sinclair says, “When you think of the phallus in a metaphorical sense…it’s more about who has the power, who has the answer, who has what everyone is looking for. The reality, of course, is that no one has it. No one has the answer or the power, ultimately. They only do when others believe they do. As long as you are not fully exposed, you can keep people thinking that you have it.” Is it possible that 21st-century towel-changers never get naked in front of other men because they don’t want to be exposed for their lack of power?

The penis is equated with a man’s self-worth, and exposing it to the world is a dangerous and vulnerable act.

We are, after all, obsessed with dicks. The Power Thesaurus counts 517 synonyms for the word. Cock is an inextricable part of our lives. But for an appendage so small, we expect so much. The male sex organ isn’t merely something we describe scientifically. The host of words we use — machine, mickey, one-eyed monster, schlong, pee-pee — call to mind masculinity, virility, and weakness. We venerate men for large endowments and chastise those with less exemplary stats. The penis is equated with a man’s self-worth, and exposing it to the world is a dangerous and vulnerable act.

None of this Millennial gymnophobia is innate. It represents a cultural shift that began in the 1990s and changed the landscape of modern American locker rooms. In 1993, Bill Clinton signed the antigay military policy Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Commander Craig Quigley, a spokesperson for the Navy at the time, said “Homosexuals are notoriously promiscuous,” and if they were present in group showers, heterosexuals would have “an uncomfortable feeling of someone watching.” DADT effectively barred homosexuals, or at least ones living out and proud, from service.

In 1994, the ACLU threatened to sue a high school in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania over its mandatory shower policy. Desperate to avoid a lawsuit, the district decided to drop their shower requirement. Schools around the country took note, and in 1996, the New York Times reported that shower-free gym classes were becoming the new norm. Kids still got sweaty, but rather than lather post-gym, they’d cake on deodorant for the rest of the day. An eighteen-year-old quoted in the article said “Standing around together naked? Oh no, man — people would feel really uncomfortable about that.”

By the time I entered middle school in 1999, the tiled rooms meant for group showers were obsolete. They’d been relegated to the same dark corners as telephone booths — forgotten places drunk people illegally use as public toilets. For Millennials and Centennials, the days of showering together are history.

Maybe this isn’t so bad. My father, who began teaching physical education in public schools in the 1970s, notes the cases of harassment, bullying, and general discomfort felt by students when group showers were common. I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with the trauma in 1999, and I’m thrilled young people don’t have to deal with it now. I wonder, though, if this lack of nudity is truly helping our youth. If we’re never forced to deal with the reality of our nude bodies, their mystery and shame become an insidious mold. I’m ready to take out the Clorox and get to work, but locker rooms are now built on a foundation of toxic gymnophobia and we need more than a bottle of bleach to fix the problem. We need to normalize nudity where we see it most — on-screen.

HBO became my generation’s penis pioneer in 1997 when Oz, a drama about inmates at a correctional facility, televised full-frontal male nudity. The premium cable network has been the leading purveyor of dick cinematography ever since, with copious amounts of cock on countless shows — most recently, Euphoria. One might assume Americans would be a little less gun shy with this much exposure to peckers in popular culture, but one trip to the gym teaches us otherwise. Thankfully, Euphoria’s graphic locker room shot of 21 penises of all shapes, sizes, and colors (the most ever seen in one tv episode) is at the forefront of changing the paradigm.

After Euphoria’s second episode aired,Euphoria’s 30 Penises Scene Was Pointlessly Gratuitous When It Didn’t Have to Be (note the exaggeration in number). I whole-heartedly disagree. In a culture where talking about dicks is commonplace but showing penises is gratuitous, our dick problem is much larger than a few inches. Euphoria made viewers uncomfortable, titillated, and even disgusted by what they saw on screen: the things we’re too afraid to show and see ourselves. I applaud HBO for forcing us to reckon with a dozen pecks of pickles. I wish more tv shows and movies would follow suit so we could see the male form as more than an object worthy of shame or sexualization; to understand that a pecker isn’t powerful — it’s as ordinary as an elbow.

Let’s demystify the dick together. I know it’s uncomfortable changing underneath that towel. I know the nagging voice of shame, however loud, is annoying to hear. Fuck it. Walk to the shower naked. Next time you’re in the locker room, be part of the change you wish to see in America’s gymnophobic world.

14 Answers

oK, here’s the deal brother, i grew up and since i was 5 i been scoring straight and gay guys up to age 25 when it slowed down a lot and i settled down with a partner for 19 years. of those active years, i did it with about 150 diff guys all through my childhood, teens n early 20’s. so, i know what i’m talkin about first off. most of the guys i did it with were straight and just curious or hard up, how do i know? they are now married with children n don’t have gay sex anymore, big clue heh. but they r all still my friends because i knew how to NOT push their buttons and when to push their buttons. but i digress, just wanted u to know i’m not a joker and unless the other person here who said he was ‚mad homo‘ is gay, please don’t use that word, it’s offensive and even gay people shouldn’t use it in an odd way.

C-DOG WHY EVEN READ IT, OR RESPOND IF YOU DON’T LIKE GAY PPL. YOU ARE NOT HELPING. ASKER PLEASE IGNORE HIM HE KNOWS NOTHING BUT HOW TO GET PEOPLE TO RESPOND TO HIM THAT IS ALL. AND WHAT IS FUNNY IS THEY ARE CALLED FLAMERS ON THE INTERNET. YES, PPL WHO POST STUFF FOR ATTENTION OR SAY STUFF TO MAKE PEOPLE MAD. SO DO NOT EVEN GIVE HIM ANYTHING – ANYONE WHO AGREES BLOCK HIM AND REPORT HIM.

i dunno how u were allowed to try on undies, truly, i’ve never been told i was allowed nor has any store ever allowed men to go in to stalls together, so u got lucky in a way. u forgot to tell us how old u r, that alwys u said u were hard when u saw his penis, was he erect too? or getting erect?

straight and is very comfy with being straight and is not bigoted or bothered by gay people or if people r gay. he just does his deal and couldn’t care less if u get hard as long as you don’t touch him. that i give in this example a 20% or lower. most guys don’t have all those details. they may be okay getting naked, but not tryin on undies with you.

gay and trying to let u know he is gay and may be wondering if you are gay too by doing what he did he was maybe screaming it in fact – i give this 60% chance.

bi-curious – not gay but is active at times with other guys of a certain type and was not going to come on to you in any way other than doing just what he did and letting you make the move so he isn’t looked at as gay. i know sounds dumb he is fine with having sex with you but not asking you for sex – these types need a way out of getting caught wanting gay sex and will not come right out and speak it to you, you have to lead them.

best thing u can do is – and here is where i wanted to know ages – because if he is older n you r younger, i want u to be careful. but if u r old enuff to go get a drink, go shopping again, then go get a drink at like a place that serves food and alcohol. Eat n drink then just tell him bout your cousin who just came out to the family. his parents are freaking n you don’t get the big deal. ‚i’ve had a ton of friends who turned out to be bi, i care what people do in private“. he will then respond and there will be your answer. if he doesn’t blame the parents n thinks they overreacted just fine by freaking, then steer clear because he is confused – bi-curious guys that sound like bigots can be mean after sex and blame you for making them have gay sex, so take heed.

if he says he agrees with u, ask him if he has any gay friends, been to gay bar, u have n they r fun and people aren’t grabbing you n being rude, etc., you can take the conversation all over.

i hope this helps. it’s alot to say but it was hard for me to give good advice without background and showing you how to check someone out without outing yourself. hope my ideas give u ideas. sounds like he is gay to me. i would’ve said something that day. i would have even said, excuse my erection, always does that in public places maybe i should be a stripper and laughed. he then would’ve said something to you/me tht would’ve given a clue like ‚yea i noticed that. i’m getting one too.‘ then u say, ‚u ever mess around in a public place with someone?‘ or ‚u ever get horny in public like this?‘ anything could’ve led you down a path of conversation.

u just need to get him private again and throw some comments out. if u can drive in one car it would help that way if it does work, u can maybe do a quickie in the car. again, only if ages are right and all is safe d00d.

well u got my all there brother. i need to copy n paste that for a ton of other questions. if u need more info, i will try, just need info from you. u can msg me at mediagod2004 at gmail dot com.

trying on mens underwear with another guy in the same dressing room?

so i was at the mall today and i have a 15 dollar gift card to a department store. so i asked him what i could get. we started looking at underwear together and we found so… i said should we go try them on.. so we went in the same little room thing and we just took everything off and put them…

Sooo…. you’re wondering if he’s gay just because he agreed to try on undies with you?

I don’t think most guys would do that with most of their friends if they’re totally straight, but maybe he doesn’t worry about the whole „no homo“ crap around you? Which doesn’t mean that he’s gay, or that he thinks you’re gay, it just means that he’s not thinking about you in a sexual way. (Which would probably mean he’s NOT gay.)

If he wasn’t hard, again, probably means he’s not gay. Even if he was – lots of guys bone up some when they’re suddenly naked in new circumstances, so that doesn’t necessarily mean anything either.

So all in all, I think you’re making a really big deal out of not much. If you care whether he’s gay or not (because you want to do stuff with him?) – ask him! It could mean „I’ll tell you if you tell me“, so be prepared to man up and out yourself to him if he needs to know too. If he was willing to let you see him naked like that, he’s probably not super homophobic, and it sounds like you’re pretty good buds, so he could be a safe person to tell even if he’s not into guys at all.

Or, you could just keep beating around the bush and trying to over-analyze every little clue about each other for the next 3 years until you go off to different colleges and never see each other again.

First which department store allowed you to try on underwear? If you and he were trying them on together, I am going to say he is either closeted gay or incredibly comfortable with himself and other guys. It is one thing to be around another dude in your underwear when you are changing clothes for gym or something like that, but I never had a friend who wanted to try on underwear with me. My buddies have borrowed underwear from me and wore them but that to me was out of necessity rather than entertainment. I think its cool you got to do that with that guy but I would assume he is probably closeted as well and feeling the same way as you.

who did you ask the sales clerk or a friend you had with you never heard of a clerk going in changing room and trying on underwear you brought so next time you see him just ask him did he like the underwear you got him and like we said ask him too model them for you then go farther and ask about boy thingys

That’s a hot story, but, I can’t believe any store would let you do that.

If there is any truth to this, you both might be gay, which is fine.

but whatever … if it floats your boat… so be it…

he might as well think tht u r ask even if he is it should least bother him it was pretty normal…