It has dawned on me that there is an entirely different reason (other than the sex) as to why so many gay men go to the baths. What is it? It is the need for gay men to connect with other gay men. Making the connection.
Why is there this need to make a connection with someone else? One word – loneliness: Or rather a subconscious feeling of loneliness. Despite all of the strides and advances that have been made for gays and lesbians in the mainstream society, it can still feel very isolating being 'gay' in the gay community. There are many men that just don't feel they fit in.
And it is even worse if you have a lesser status in the gay community. Many gay men have self-esteem and insecurity issues. So it is very common to see gay men bash their fellow gay men who are viewed to be 'lower class'. Whether it is being a different race to driving a used car, there is nothing anyone can do to change the elitist gay environment that is out there. Just remember it says more about the person saying it, than it does about the group it is being said about. These people are the ones with a problem. So with all of the bars and clubs filled with all of these pretension and superficial gay men, where is there a safe haven to hang out with other gay men and feel somewhat accepted? You guessed it, the baths.
True, the baths can be as superficial as the bars and clubs. But it is also a place where no one is ostracized that badly. And everyone is on somewhat of an equal level. There is no class distinction because everyone is naked, in a towel. Lawyers interact with truck drivers and so on. Plus, the baths is the only gay environment where you can see every type of gay man regardless of age or race. The bathhouses are a behind closed doors atmosphere where anonymity reigns supreme. Most times that connection you are making with someone else is a sexual one. But underneath those sexual feelings, lies the need to connect. Look at how many glory holes there are in sex clubs. And how much anonymous blowjobs go on in bars, clubs, dance halls, and even in public bathrooms. Again, underneath all of this oral activity is the need to connect with someone else, no matter how short or fleeting the experience may be.
For instance, I've seen this one white guy at the baths for the past few years. I've spoken to him a few times, and he is totally gay, very friendly and cute too! But the type of 'connecting' he is likes performing blowjobs and nothing else. No kissing, no hugging and no anal. Blowing guy after guy after guy. I think his record is 10 blowjobs in one night. And the nice thing about him is that he doesn't seem to discriminate between the races, the ages, or the weight of the person. I've seen him go from white to black, fat to thin, old to young; just a variety of men. In fact I doubt he even cares about what the guy looks like. All he cares about is the dick and how big it is. I guess that is one reason why I have never seen him with an Asian man.
And he is not the only one. There is this other young, white guy I've seen on a regular basis at the baths. My take on him is that he is deeply closeted and in denial about his sexuality. I would suspect that almost daily he has these urges to connect with other gay men. Whenever these urges become too great, he just drops by the baths. I've seen him at all hours of the day; after work, before Sunday dinner, on a Saturday afternoon, and so on. And all he does is gives blowjobs any chance he gets. One time I noticed him naked, on his knees, giving another guy a blowjob in the porno lounge. He blew that guy for at least a half an hour! The guy receiving the blowjob was sort of trapped, as the other guy (the deeply closeted giver) was so in to it, he refused to stop. He was truly sucking that dick like it was his last meal. The guy receiving had little choice but to sit there, continue watching the porno flick, and enjoy the blowjob.
As I had mentioned in Sex with Clothes On, many of these men don't want to get to close to anyone. This makes these sexual interludes somewhat ironic. These men have this need to connect with another man. But they don't want to get to close. And that is the beauty of the baths. They are able to sexually connect with another man, but to have that encounter remain anonymous and detached. No conversation is started, no names are exchanged, and no 'getting to know you' is established, just pure raw sex. Once these men ejaculate, those pent-up feelings of loneliness evaporate. A quick shower, and he's on his merry way. But trust me, a few hours later those feelings of loneliness resurface. And you can't get to the baths fast enough. For gay men that are OUT, it just means more fun at the baths. But for the closeted men, it is a frustrating merry-go-round. And this is probably what the deeply closeted guy, and others like him, goes through each and every time.
But there are also many gay men who go to the baths, looking for some sort of companionship in a non-sexual way. That is why you see more married, bi or closeted men at the baths than any other gay environment (i.e. bars or clubs). These men don't have many dealings interacting with the gay community and the need to connect someway with other gay men is strong. Just like I had mentioned with the deeply closeted guy, that need is actually insecurity and denial about their sexuality. By connecting with another gay man, these men are able to fill up that empty vacuum of insecurity. Thus they feel secure. But only for a short period of time, before that need resurfaces. What the baths offers these men is a false sense of security and acceptance. There is a sense of freedom to let go and feel uninhibited, outside of their normal lives. And since the baths is such an anonymous and closed doors environment, these men feel safer connecting with other gay men there. The bars or clubs, which is very visible, don't offer the same type of anonymity the baths can offer.
But it is not only these 'straight' men having this need to connect. Gay men have this need to. That is why you can see so many of the same men at the baths over and over again. All they do is hang out. It is almost like being a regular at the same bar night after night. Why are there these regulars? Like the deeply closeted guy, it is the subconscious feeling of loneliness and the need to connect with other gay men. To feel a sense of belonging within the gay community.
For instance, I've seen this good-looking Russian man frequent the baths on a regular basis. And how do I know he is Russian? Anyone who will listen, he has told his life story to. Complete in a heavy Russian accent. Any White guy the Russian spotted, he would approach and talk to about everything and anything. And some times, the Russian would hit it off with someone and get lucky. But just a warning; some guys do find this annoying when complete strangers come up and starts talking. Again it just gets in the way of some men looking for pure sex (which underneath is a need to connect). When approached for conversation, some men think that sex is the motivating factor
I've overheard various bits of conversations the Russian has had with other White guys. What I can piece together is that he is not OUT at all. But has these urges to be with other guys. He also considers himself to be straighter, than gay. Seeing this Russian talk to every White guy and try to be very social, struck me as a desperate need to connect with the gay community. I've even overheard the Russian guy admit to other people that he uses the baths to socialize and meet other gay men. Because the fact is he doesn't know where else to go to meet other gay men.
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