Can You Say NO To Gay Hookup Culture (And Still Love It Anyway)?
Sex is like breathing for a lot of gay men. Growing up gay, I wanted to get my fill.
As a young man born in the 90s, I quickly discovered that I was gay. My obsession with Andros, the red ranger from Power Rangers In Space, and my curiosity with what was underneath the tunic of my Hercules toy were obvious clues.
I then spent my teenage years obsessing over queer content like Queer as Folk, Nifty.com erotica, yaoi manga (Japanese gay comics), and more.
Let’s be honest, that twisted my perspective on sex, gay sex, and gay culture. As such, I grew up dreaming of the day that I could engage in it, celebrate it, and more. Not just the sex, mind you, but the culture around the sex. The gay clubs, the gay getaways, the gay parades. All of it enticed me as a young black boy living in New Jersey.
Then, I did it. I had sex and then I went to the races. Sex became like breathing to me. After I had it, I couldn’t get enough. It was ripe and rare (and so was I), so I had to keep getting more of it.
I know, we’re getting very personal. But, I hope to be frank with you in order to serve the purpose of this article. To talk about appreciating the gay sex scene, while not wanting to participate in it.
The turning point happened in Key West. Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting the southernmost point of the United States of America, and I had a lovely time.
I went snorkeling, jet skiing, night paddling, dining, bar hopping, bike touring, and so much more (in fact, expect a Travel Thursday piece in the near future). On top of that, I witnessed the gay sex scene on the Floridian Island.
It first started when I checked into the Equator Resort. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t know what I was in for.
Key West has several gay-friendly hotels/resorts and this particular one was a men’s only resort. On top of that, it includes a clothing optional backyard pool area with two pools, two hot tubs, and a fully stocked bar. Not only that, but the tv service came with eleven complimentary gay porn channels and the rooms had eight complimentary condoms.
As soon as I walked in, I was worried about what I was in for. And, I got exactly what I expected.
The resort is a beautiful building that was combined from two different lots into one. On top of that, the rooms are spacious, the amenities are plentiful, and staff/service are kind and efficient.
That said, the actual atmosphere in the resort felt like a big gay sex party (especially during happy hour).
Thinking back to the gay movies/tv shows that I’ve watched in the past, I immediately related it to Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild! or Eating Out: The Open Weekend.
If you don’t know either film, they're campy stories of a bunch of young gay men who go out to enjoy spring/summer break. They go to a gay resort and enjoy a bunch of sexual (and incredibly cheesy) escapades.
That’s exactly what this resort felt like.
Don’t get me wrong, the pool area was nice and I did hang out there a few times (with clothing), but I often saw men fondling each other, making out, or more while hanging out in the same area.
Now this next point is very important, there is no shame in the gay sex scene and the goings on at the Equator Resort. In fact, its pretty cool that this space exists. Having this gay men’s only spot is essential to gay life and touring on the island.
Everyone needs a space where they can feel comfortable, accepted, and free. The Equator is one of the spots that completely provides that experience for gay men. Bless it, its owners, and its staff for providing that.
That said, I never felt right in it. I realized that I don’t want to participate in that sub-community of gay life.
On my last night in Key West, a few men I had befriended asked if I wanted to join them for drinks and hanging out. I initially said yes, because it was the last hurrah. One friend then said something along the lines of, “come down naked.” I played it off saying, “My body. My choice” before walking away to prep.
As I got ready, however, I realized that I truly didn’t want to join in. I didn’t want to be a part of a naked pool party. I didn’t want to touch, kiss, or have sex with a stranger. I didn’t even want the implication of it. That wasn’t me anymore.
Part of that was my own personal baggage, but most of it was my personal strength. I love, appreciate, and champion these gay male spaces and their heightened sexuality. That said, I recognize that I don’t want to participate in them.
This was echoed during the night of the bar hopping. After I drank my way through gay spots like the risqué bar and dance club Bourbon, the karaoke bar named Bobby’s Monkey Bar, the dragtastic Aqua bar, and more, I somehow found my way to the Island House Resort.
The Island House Resort is much like the Equator but bigger. From a large pool, to more rooms, and a built in spa, the Island House Resort is decked out for the gay getaway of your dreams.
As I somehow found myself swimming in the pool that night, dazed and drunk with dudes talking and touching nearby, I could see why gay men vacation there year after year.
This place was gorgeous, gigantic, and glamorous. The atmosphere was grand and relaxing but with an undercurrent of sexual energy.
But still, I didn’t have sex that night. I didn’t even consider it (and the level of alcohol in my body would have made it a very questionable situation).
All of this has left me realizing that I need a break or a total departure from the gay sex scene. As much as I had grown up idolizing the idea of gay vacays and gay bathhouses, the fantasy was always better than the reality.
That week I realized, the real me didn’t need to be a part of those spaces. While younger Devin may shout and scream at the idea, the present one has learned to embrace it.
I’ve deleted Grindr from my phone (for the hundredth time), I’ve said goodbye to gay bathhouses (not like I was a frequent visitor, but still), and I said no to hanging out with friends in naked pool areas.
It’s not in me anymore, and that’s ok.
So much of popular gay culture is submerged in sex. From tv shows and movies, to gay male resorts and bars, to even websites like Instinct. That’s great, because that culture still applies to many gay men. But it doesn’t have to define all gay men.
While I have certainly had my fun, and will champion this culture till the day I die, I don’t need to act it out. That’s how I feel right now, and that’s ok. Maybe I'll change my mind. If so, that's ok. And if you, the reader, feel the same way, know that’s ok too.
So, this is my “Dear John” letter to the gay sex scene. You’re great. It’s me, not you. And I will always love you… just in my own way.
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