Should Gay Society Return to Bathhouses?
A guest writer for The Guardian shared his thoughts on why gay bathhouses are so great, and we reflected on the past and present of these homosexual halls.
An older gentleman, who chose to remain anonymous, decided to share his story of how he has frequently visited gay bathhouses for the past 25 years.
“I first visited a gay sauna 25 years ago and have done so about once every six weeks since. I once heard such visits described as ‘holidays from morality,’ but that has not been my experience. Only adults are admitted; all that happens is by mutual consent; no one is exploited; common courtesy and consideration for others are the unwritten rules that are generally observed.”
However, lately many men feel that gay bathhouses no longer seem like the gay meccas that they used to be.
Back when being gay was still illegal or greatly stigmatized in Western culture, gay bathhouses served as a safe haven where gay men could not only meet to have sex but also meet to congregate and be open with one another.
Throughout the decades, this mentality of bathhouses being the place for gays sadly waned as public acceptance increased. Then, the upkeep of such establishments went down and soon so too did the businesses themselves. Now, there aren’t nearly as many gay bathhouses as they used to be. That said, the ones that are still standing still have a fairly good community of regulars like the anonymous man in the Guardian article.
In addition, this man shares that his body image has greatly benefited from the exposure of gay bathhouses.
There’s something about being naked in front of strangers that brings out a piece of your fight or flight instinct. Will you run away in shame of your body, or will you embrace it?
“When clothes are off, intentions clear and vulnerability shared, men talk honestly to men they may know only then and may never meet again. I have had deep conversations with people whose experience of life has been quite unlike my own, and we have played together for the mutual affirmation, delight and healing that only such intimacy can bring.”
Maybe if it’s not time for gay men, or men who hate the “gay label” but at least consider themselves homosexual, to return to gay bathhouses as a group, it might be time for us to occasionally dip our toes in the water as individuals.
Perhaps if each of us visited a bathhouse or two (not necessarily for sex but just to see what it’s like), we can get an understanding of what this man sees. A gateway into the past of gay society, and a look at a segment of today’s as well.