Trade: Impersonal sex in public places (Observations)

Tearoom Trade: Impersonal sex in public places (Observations)


From the time of its first publication, Tearoom Trade engendered controversy. It was also accorded an unusual amount of praise for a first book on a marginal, intentionally self-effacing population by a previously unknown sociologist. The book was quickly recognized as an important, imaginative, and useful contribution to our understanding of “deviant” sexual activity. Describing impersonal, anonymous sexual encounters in public restrooms—”tearooms” in the argot—the book explored the behavior…

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Has anyone on reddit actually ever seen/experienced a glory hole in a public restroom? I don’t think they really exist. Any stories?(r/AskReddit)

I created a throwaway account to post this, for obvious reasons. Glory holes are real. I’ve never seen one in a public restroom, but I’ve seen them — and used them — in “adult bookstores”. To the people asking about the bookstores, that’s really just their traditional name. It’s where you can go to buy porn, and also to use the “video arcade” in the back. Pre-internet, it was the modern equivalent to a porn theater (which is literally an old and musty movie theater that plays porn non-stop, and guys very quietly shuffle in and out, while they sit down and watch a little porn and — yes, they usually masturbate. And yes, sometimes they engage in sexual activity with one another. And yes, I’ve done that also.

It is my personal belief that the men who engage in these activities are almost entirely sex addicts, as I am. In my experience with mainstream gay men, this is not a normal activity for them. And it’s certainly not a normal activity for staight men. However, it may surprise you that many of the men who engage in these activities are actually straight, or at least identify as being straight.

Me, for example. If your definition of gay-vs-straight is determined by what sex you’re actually attracted to… meaning who you want to hold hands with, who you want to kiss, who you want to spend the rest of your life with, what sex of nude picture turns you on, etc… by that definition, I’m definitely straight. I don’t like men, in other words.

However, in my experience in sexual addiction recovery groups (which have been off-and-on in my case, obviously), this activity is fairly common among those men. Speaking for myself, the addict in me just wants sexual contact with another person. Given a choice, I would prefer a woman. But because the sexual behaviors of men and women are very different, it’s simply easier to engage in sex with men.

And here’s my point: This is why glory holes are attractive to people like me. We don’t want to see the guy. We don’t want to cuddle, or to kiss, or to make out. We want a purely sexual experience. Some just want to receive, some just want to give, some want both.

This behavior was documented in a book, which I’ve wanted to read, but which I haven’t had the courage to buy. Here’s a link.…

I should point out that this is a very shameful activity for me. It’s not ever something I even really like to do. It feels like something that I need to do sometimes. Most recently, I haven’t done glory holes at all, because they’re hard to find where I live. Craigslist personal ads are also used for a similar purpose, but obviously it’s a different experience.

Oh, to answer one other question. Yes, it’s pretty scary to poke your penis into a dark hole, not knowing exactly the intentions of the person on the other side. I have considered that there could be somebody over there with a knife, or anything else. It’s scary — but it’s also part of the danger, and therefore part of the thrill, I guess.

So there. That’s as much honesty on the subject as I can come up with at the moment. Feel free to ask questions. I’ve considered doing an AMA on this topic, but the rules of AMA suggest that addictions are so common that they don’t want every Tom Dick and Harry answering questions about their fucked up sexual ways.

One more thing: I’m sure there may be people who berate me for suggesting that their healthy sexual lifestyle has been labeled addiction by me. Nope. I can only speak for myself, and report on what I have heard from others. I assure you that I don’t know everybody’s motives for using glory holes and these other things. So no offense is intended.

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Laud Humphreys

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Aldine Transaction

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Tearoom Trade: Impersonal sex in public places (Observations)

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Has anyone on reddit actually ever seen/experienced a glory hole in a public restroom? I don’t think they really exist. Any stories?

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