Eye Contact
Eye Contact

You walk down the street and catch some guy's eyes. You do not stop to continue the gaze with a nod and a friendly smile; you just continue to walk. Shopping in the supermarket, your eyes meet with another guys for the briefest of seconds, before you start to look away. At the gym, whether it is the weight room or the locker room, there are so many guys with so many eyes. You keep your head lowered or look right past everybody so you do not make eye contact. For every gay man out there, making eye contact with a guy happens all the time, whether it is intentional or unintentional. But with eye contact comes the superficial thought a lot of gay men have, "Man, I am being cruised again? " Why is it that making eye contact, simply to be friendly and give some acknowledgement to another guy, makes that guy in question feels like he is being cruised?

They say a persons eyes are a window to that persons soul. It is the way for two people to become intimate with one another, without any form of direct contact. Maintaining eye contact with someone is in itself its own language. For a majority of gay men, consciously or more often sub-consciously, eye contact is the number one language used to cruise. We are all guilty of it, as it is in our blood. But the problem is that the feeling of being cruised in a bar transfers itself into other places. Like I mentioned on the street, in the bank, at the supermarket, even the gym. Everyday places where eye contact can happen. It seems to me that a lot of guys will not only avoid eye contact, but also adopt this "pissed-off" look on their face most of the time. That look is the sign for "do not come near me, do not approach me, I am not interested" to other guys. But in reality, that look is to mask a huge insecurity that almost all gay men carry with them, which is low self-esteem.

Recently, I've started sitting right in front of the main bathhouse entrance. That way I can see all of the new arrivals enter the baths for the first time. 85% of the men that come in avoid almost all eye contact with me. No acknowledgement, no nod, not even a 'Hi'. Since the baths are known for its anonymity, that is to be expected. However, there are some guys I've seen at the baths for years. And when they walk in, they turn their heads and avoid looking at me all together. This, despite the fact I'm sitting right in front of them.

I'm not cruising, chasing or even being threatening to anyone. I'm just sitting there. What is so threatening about that? Yet, the eyes are being avoided. That is the sign of a guy who has self-esteem issues (like most gay men). You might be thinking, 'Well maybe he is shy?' No. Shy people wouldn't have the guts to enter a place like the baths. If someone acknowledges me with a hello, or even stops me to chat, I know that person has self-confidence. By sitting in the same spot, week after week, I'm recognizable. Self-confident men wouldn't even feel the slightest bit of a threat by me. On the other end of the spectrum, guy's who avoid eye contact or even the slightest acknowledgement, have issues. That is a guy with low self-esteem.

I've spoken about eye contact in non-cruising situations. So let’s talk about eye contact in cruising situations. Like it or not, eye contact is the language that is used when cruising. And there is no worse place to have eye contact with someone than a Bathhouse. Since there is hardly any direct communication going on, the eyes do all of the talking. The conventional thought is if you make eye contact with someone in a bathhouse, it is a general tip to the other guy, that you are interested and vice-versa. Now a lot of guys have written to me saying if no one approaches me at the baths, then maybe I should be the one approaching them. But eye contact gives me a pretty good indication if someone is interested or not. If I see a guy I like, and they do not return the eye contact, or looks and sees right through me, then I know this person has zero interest in me. I do not have to waste my time chasing this person and I can move on to someone else. Also, when the guy seems to have the 'pissed-off' look, then I know that he is projecting a vibe for other guys 'to stay away'.

I remember one year I saw a GORGEOUS and MUSCULAR blond guy who looked like he was a porn star. He kept his jeans on, but was shirtless, and wore sunglasses. It was the summer, and during that season, the bathhouse feels more like a pool house. Men would come in and out from the outdoor patio and pool. They would be completely naked or be wearing a towel, having spent time either swimming or tanning (yes, the bathhouse I go to does allow nude tanning and swimming!) The blond guy stood in the hallway for an hour. Finally he came up to me (that approachable face again) and asked me what was wrong with all these guys? Excuse me, I said? He started to tell me he was from out of town, and stopped by to check out the bath situation in my city. He could not understand what was wrong with all of the local guys? Why was no one approaching him? I explained to him that #1 by wearing sunglasses, no one could make any eye contact to see where his interest lay. #2 with his jeans on, he is giving the signal that he is not to be approached, and is probably only interested in receiving a blowjob. #3 with his looks and incredible body, a lot of guys think they are out of his league. It was the signal he was projecting, 'I am unapproachable'. He thought for a second and then said, 'Nah, It must be the guys here.' And with that he left to go to another bathhouse. But the fact is, his demeanor really does give off the signal that 'I am not to be approached, unless I approach you'.

Another time, I remember a different GORGEOUS guy was at the baths in the porn room, with a full erection. He was stroking himself up and down, all ripe and ready to receive oral. Sounds like he wanted someone to blow him, right? WRONG! Whenever anyone even entered the porn room, this gorgeous guy would shoot daggers with his eyes. His eyes really gave off the message that we were all to 'GET THE HELL OUT'. I guess he was waiting for someone more to his liking, whatever those standards may be.

What I cannot stand is when a guy goes out of his way to avoid me, even after I get the message that there is no interest from his standpoint, and I leave him alone. I have to admit that I am very sensitive and thinned skinned. But when someone avoids me like the plague, I take it bad. Such as leaving a room when I enter it, taking a different route in the hallway to avoid me, or even avoiding passing my room when he is making the rounds. It is hard to desensitize myself from that type of blatant rejection. I know I should not take it personally, but it is hard. I mean what else are they rejecting, the chair I am sitting in? The towel I am wearing? Of course they are rejecting me. But I can also understand them acting that way, because of the huge amount of Asian men that constantly hit on GWM (Read Racism or Preference.) I see it at the baths all the time. After being cruised by so many gay Asian men, many gay men lump all gay Asians as being desperate and constantly chasing after them.

Another thing I cannot stand is when some guy gives off major attitude, by acting like everybody is cruising him and it is exhausting for him to deal with all of these eyes staring at him. But in reality he is only average looking, and nobody is really paying attention to him. This is especially true with a lot of overweight and out-of-shape guys, who run into Asians in the hallways. As I mentioned before, because Asians are stereotyped for going after any GWM, a lot of these guys think we are cruising them! So they turn their heads, look away, and give off major attitude if any Asian guy enters a room. Like we would even be interested in them! And forget about just making a conversation with someone cute. As I had mentioned even acknowledging someone with eye contact in the lounge, men think they are being cruised. So they become unresponsive to conversation, so they can get that person to stop 'cruising' them.

See below to go to page two of this story

6 thoughts on “Eye Contact”

  1. While I’ve not been to a gay bathhouse as such I do reguarly visit what is marketed as a Korean Style Bathhouse, seperate male and female facilities so completely nude. Not a sex or gay venue but the vast majority of male customers are definately not straight and well you get the idea. I’ve unfortunately had the avoidance experience on numerous occasions by guys who will always leave the sauna or tub as soon as I enter, it does hurt but I’ve decided not to let it stop me going there or they win, it’s just a form of bullying as far as I’m concerned. Besides I don’t go there to get off, I enjoy the facilities and the scenery and occasional hanky panky is a nice bonus.

  2. I just found your bathhouse stories and find them interesting. I live in New Orleans and visited the bath houses her for some time. I do miss going to them though. I have not read all your stores yet, but did I miss the location where the majority of your stories are from? PS: I’m attracted to Asians, but find very little here in New Orleans.

  3. Thank you for the articles and your perspectives, as well as others responses. While many responded to the racism issue (which I find to be inherent to human nature), I was intrigued by the “eye contact” essay. I have concluded not to make eye contact with men anymore. It just is not worth the aggravation/response I receive from men. Perhaps you can write more about the subject.

  4. I think I will come back here and read more of your stories, even though those I’ve read so far have seemed rather shallow and unimpressive. Still, it’s an interesting attempt to write about something I, too, have experienced and marveled at. I’ve found a few very dear friends at the Baths and had great pleasure there as well. I’ve also caught STD’s (in pre-AIDS days) a few times and come away as lonely as when I went in, despite my sexual gratification.

    I was glad to read that you volunteer at a gay elder center. I hope you, in all your youthful beauty (which does not last forever, by the way) might learn some wisdom from these men as well as compassion. I am an old, but still handsome and in shape “rice queen,” I guess. As far as you’re concerned, completely off the gaydar and probably not even a possible friend. Well, dear, there is a reason you frequent the baths so much and endure so much rejection while searching for your ideal partner. It is because you have put up barriers to true friendship and love. Sometimes life surprises us and presents a friendship that blossoms into love. What a lovely thing that is! Often it is with a type that we never even thought of before.

    When we are young we usually search for ourselves or an idealized version of ourselves. But as we mature we realize there are other quite satisfying choices if we only look. In my case, I gradually became aware that men who were quite different from me – a red-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian – were as thrilling to me as gay white youth. In fact, they were often more exciting lovers. Gradually, I became quite entranced with the Asian male, but not because of the cliche reasons. There is something special there that contrasts so nicely with the Western man and his concepts. There is also an almost Greek acceptance of older-younger relationships that benefit the younger while rewarding the older as well. This pairing may be viewed by cynical outsiders as exploitation, but the participants know it is not. It is warm and friendly and caring, but not boring. It is not for everyone, but don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it.

    I hope you can get out of the bathhouse soon and find a nice cuddler who appreciates your physical beauty and personality. In order to be cherished you might try looking in some new directions and letting yourself fall in love with kindness and consideration rather than sexual athleticism. Find someone who enriches your life as well as thrilling you in bed from time to time. Just cuddling the one you love can be better that all night sex with a stranger.

    As far as America is concerned, you just have to realize that the ideal is the Brad Pitt blue-eyed blond. He’s equivalent to the gorgeous blonde babe with the big tits- e.g., Marilyn Monroe – for straight men. But wiser, more international men will recognize your excellence. EM Forester, the famous author, was gay and chided the British in Colonial India for not being able to see the beauty of the natives who were all around them. Because they weren’t white (and socially equal), they were invisible to the Brits. It was their loss, wasn’t it?

    Please, forgive me for going on so long. I wish you happiness and would welcome your reply, if you choose to make one. Please remember that I haven’t read all your stories. Perhaps I will change my mind about you when I have read more.

    PS: Not satisfying your partner fully is the mark of a lousy lover, gay or straight. But in the baths, many are selfish.

    1. Wow! It´s very touchy what you say here, at least for me. It´s a wise lesson beyond the superficial hornyness that drive us to have a sexual encounter which we dispose just seconds after the last shot of cum.

  5. I enjoyed reading your stories. I’ve only been to a bath-house (we call them saunas down here) once ever and it was such a disaster I’ve never gone back! Although I’m quite often complimented about my looks, I had no ideas what the rules were. Because I’m shy, every time someone looked at me, I’d look away – sheer force of habit – and blush, even if I was interested. Consequently, after a while no one was even pretending to notice I was there anymore. I was devastated! I thought I must either be extremely ugly after all or have committed some cardinal sin only sauna-patrons know about. I holed up in a corner in the porn room for a while (not the best solution!), gave up, had a wank, raced home and had a cry. I’ve never gone back – I think clubs are more my thing. Looking back on it now, I guess it was just my naiveté and shyness that must have made me seem hyper-aloof to everyone else there, and when I think back on it now I have a good laugh! I still haven’t plucked up the courage to go back though, even with my partner, who goes quite regularly. Anyway, that’s my (very limited) experience of bath-houses.

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Bathhouse Blues