It was a surprise that the first naked body I saw as I entered the gay sauna was female and not a gay male.
It was an ‘open’ night for all members of the queer community, with all genders welcome. A safe sexual space where queerness was able to be celebrated in whatever sexual or indeed non-sexual way you wanted.
From the moment I walked in, there was a level of conversation and laughter that indicated friendship, acceptance, diversity, and bonding. The snack bar tables were already occupied with women deep in camaraderie, with the locker and shower areas a mixture of happy, curious and naked genders.
Sex Without Labels
I headed for the play spaces upstairs, where toilet signs were now indicating multi-sex use, and the usual dark grope rooms were well-lit. Otherwise, all was physically the same as during exclusively gay times.
What was different was the sex – a microcosm reflecting today’s diverse sexuality. It was a ‘sexual’ situation rather than labelled gay, bi or queer. Each group naturally gravitated to their kind while being tolerant, embracing and curious about others. A straight man and his female partner had sex together and then invited additional men to have sex with her.
The sounds of loud female orgasms, so different from the gay male ones, rang out above the locked cubicle walls. You could watch or partake in group sex in the open play areas where trans were particularly popular.
Tours by staff, leading half a dozen women and the occasional male partner, snaked through the play areas. Slings were explained, glory holes revealed, and the aroma of amyl permeated the air as naked gay men cruised and played without breaking stride. Here was sexual education of the most intimate kind for our most ardent allies.
All-Gender Gay Sauna
Did gay men feel that their domain had been intruded on? I saw no evidence of any such feelings. Though it was a night for the sexually confident, where were the under-35s? Not many attended.
As a mature gay man, I suspect that my focus over recent times has been too much on gay male sexuality. All around me, another diverse sexuality has exploded, reflecting the many colours of our rainbow alliance. Mixed-gender nights like this one, where societal labels are left outside, reflect our ongoing queerness and say much about our tolerance.
Perhaps a full-time, all-gender sauna is not out of the question after all. Who knew?