It embodied the radical gay politics I thought were lacking in my generation of gay men, so concerned with marriage and adoption and fitting in.
But now that I was seeing it firsthand, I found myself strangely disconcerted.
When I lived in Toronto after college, my older friends visited bathhouses and cruised the park in my Portuguese neighborhood.
The boy scout then got rid of the bottle in favor of other implements; first a pool cue — handle first — then four pool balls. I’m sure a gay man in any era could have been freaked out by that kind of extreme exhibitionism, but I wondered if my squeamishness wasn’t also a sign of a generational divide.
As I walked away, I saw him prepare to insert one more object: a magic eight ball. If gay sex in the 1970s was marked by rampant hedonism, and gay sex in the 1980s was defined by AIDS, then perhaps gay sex in the new millennium — a time in which kids like me are coming out at earlier and earlier ages and finding themselves less and less defined by their sexuality — is largely distinguished by its normalcy.
It’s the most extreme manifestation of a gay party culture that has waned in the last decade — as suggested by the disappearance of New York’s extravagant gay dance clubs and the dramatically decreasing attendance rates of the Circuit — but it was still an only-in-New York episode I didn’t want to miss. on a chilly March night, I arrived at the Roseland Ballroom with a mix of trepidation and excitement.
Over the course of the next hour, the venue’s enormous dance floor filled up with thousands of sweaty, shirtless men, mostly clutching water bottles to offset their party drug-induced dehydration and dancing wildly to the loud techno music.
“Too bad they’re all married with kids.” When I got a job working in a gay video store, I could see guys hanging out on the roof deck of the gay bathhouse across the street.
I would watch them idly smoke their cigarettes during the afternoon and wonder whether I was missing out on a key part of the gay experience by not being over there in my towel, instead of heading home to my boyfriend.
And as I walked a few feet into the dim lighting, I bumped into a group of men getting a blow job from a kneeling figure, though I could only make out vague shapes.
In a way, it was exactly the commitment-free sex I’d been eager to try. Then they urinated on each other, splashing on the surrounding audience.
But as the night progressed, my attitude went from excitement to discomfort to utter revulsion — and I began to wonder, did I even belong here? Like most gay guys, I spent my late teens and early 20s making up for the chastity of my high school years.
As I moved from my hometown in Edmonton, Canada, to bigger cities, I went to gay punk shows and arty queer dance parties, getting myself drunk enough to talk to men I thought were cute and, on occasion, going home with them.
Club Fly provides a gay bar, club, nightlife and GLBT center mapper for York, Pennsylvania and the rest of the USA.