Public Toilet Sex and Shame

Photo of men cruising a Berlin public toilet, copyright Marc Martin

Photo of men cruising a Berlin public toilet, copyright Marc Martin

A few months ago, a reader left a comment: “can I email you?” I replied with a “what’s up” and he explained his therapist had encouraged him to drop me a line (which he thought was funny as he rarely did what his therapist told him to do.)

He talked about being stuck in boring presentations at work, his mind on which toilets he could cruise afterwards. But also of feeling ashamed and dirty, hoping he could speak to someone who did the same as him. About feeling “so fucking alien and abhorrent all the time”.

And he asked a question which I extend to all readers of this blog: do you wonder whether you are the only one who feels shame when cruising? That the other guys are “happy go lucky, cock swinging, cum swallowing free spirits?”

I’ve been thinking about a blog post on this subject since then. Him and I have chatted over email in the meantime and I have to apologise A. for taking so long to reply to you! But I think I finally found your answer, and it’s thanks to an exhibition currently taking place in Berlin.

A new exhibition at Berlin’s Schwules* Museum explores the history of toilet cruising through photos, historical objects, and oral histories. The exhibition Fenster Zum Klo [Window to the Toilet]: Public Toilets, Private Affairs is by the French photographer Marc Martin.

The exhibition’s page talks about how “such activities are, even today, more synonymous with shame than with gay pride. And yet, these public toilets, whose history is intertwined with the lives and adventures of many gays, trans people, escorts, libertines, are also unlikely bastions of freedom.”

I haven’t seen the exhibition so can’t comment on it specifically, but the images I’ve seen online as well as reviews in some websites seem positive. Marc Martin’s point seems to be that these places, far from being focal points for shame, were the places where men met when they couldn’t go anywhere else, when paper ads and hook up apps didn’t exist. In a way, gay cruising is part of the process in the 20th century of bringing out into the open gay men’s sexuality, even if it was a (not always) secretive act.

VICE has two articles on the exhibition. The first is an interview with Marc Martin. Marc talks about how “these so-called squalid, gloomy and stinking places were incredible places of social mixing: gays and straights of all social strata, men of all ages, cultural and religious backgrounds came together there.”

One interesting point from the interview is that there’s a whole history of lesbians using public toilets also for  hookups, which is still  unknown to the greater culture.

The other VICE article is by Jeff Leavell, who talks about the freedom and beauty he found cruising for sex. It’s interesting to hear his first experiences as a teenager in New York, and I agree with him when he says that “cruising can bring together people from wildly different paths in life, and that’s part of its magic.” I can relate to this – I’ve hooked up and met guys from so many different cultures, ages and backgrounds – as has been documented in this blog!

Some people think cruising is dying (public toilets are certainly shutting down) and this might be the result of gay hookup apps. But I disagree there’s no longer an interest. I think there’s something in the mystery of “who am I gonna find there?” of cruising that’s more appealing than looking at photos on your mobile phone. The cruising spots that are still open in London are so filled with guys you sometimes can’t even move.

Some guys like the element of risk, or the chance of running into a straight guy who wants to experiment. For many gay guys, this is their first encounter with other gay men. It’s all valid, and all good in my opinion. But to answer the reader’s original questions, I think there are guys who feel shameful and dirty about cruising in toilets – Marc Martin talks about in his interview about an older man who cried at the exhibition as nobody knew he’d met his long term partner (who had recently passed away) in a cruisy toilet. They were too ashamed to tell others.

I wish I could visit Marc Martin’s exhibition before it closes in February 2018. Here’s to hoping it’s a great success and ends up travelling to Britain. 😉

Please share your thoughts in the comments section.  Would love to hear about your first time in a toilet, or maybe why you’ve never cruised one.  Let’s share more, let’s learn more from each other and, above all else, let’s not feel ashamed of ourselves. I personally feel really lucky to be a gay guy, to be part of this group of men in the world that are so diverse and beautiful, and I hope you feel the same (or are on your way to feeling it.)

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The Blue Room


A week ago, my boyfriend and I travelled to the South Bank to meet some friends for dinner.

Outside Embankment station, my boyfriend said he needed to buy a toothbrush and would go look for it on Charing Cross. I told him I’d meet him at the restaurant and immediately thought of the Royal Festival Hall’s toilets, and of quickly dropping by to check them out.

First stop was the 1st floor toilet – the one right at the back, near the stage for free concerts. Usually there’s one or two guys hanging around those urinals (sometimes they even give the impression of having been standing there for hours!) There was just one guy washing his hands, a middle-aged Indian man, on his way out.

Tried the ground floor toilet next. An older man with glasses and white hair, carrying a plastic bag (real air of professor about him), followed me down the stairs. But when he saw me try to open the door and find it locked, he spun around and went back up. I took the side exit door and left the building.

I’d read online about the 4th floor blue toilet, so decided it was worth a quick visit to it before I joined my friends and boyfriend. I walked around the Festival Hall, went back in and took the elevator up to the 4th floor. The area was deserted. I went up a short flight of stairs and found the toilets to my left, tucked in a corner.

There was just one guy standing by the urinals, clearly cruising. He was short, bald, with a salt-and-pepper beard, a protruding belly and muscular tits. He reminded me of one of those muscular dwarves from the Lord of the Rings films.

After a few moments of tugging, we turned to each other and showed our cocks. His was about the same size as mine, 5.5 inches, but thicker, and with a big bush. He gestured for me to join him by his other side, away from the opening doors.  I did so.

Very soon we had our hands on each other’s cocks. He slid his hand under my balls, looking for my asshole. I moved closer to give him easier access. Then he slid his hand to my back and cupped my ass. I worked his shaft with my hand then leaned down and took him into my mouth. With his other hand he held my head and facefucked me. When I got up again, he opened his shirt and unbuckled his trousers. Then he started working on my belt.

I ran my hand through his thick chest hair. It was moist and smelt of cologne. I found one of his hard nipples and leaned down to chew it, but he whispered: ” no chewing, no chewing.” When I started licking and sucking it instead, he groaned “good boy”.

Suddenly the door opened and we fumbled back towards the urinals, pulling our trousers up. It was the professor type with his plastic bag. He went into the bathroom’s sole cubicle and shut the door. We went back to playing with each other. I sucked his cock a little more, and when I came up for air he slid his hand up my stomach to my chest, then back to my ass.

I felt too coscious about the noise we were making, with the other guy inside the cubicle. There were also my friends and boyfriend waiting for me. So I zipped up, patted his ass as a goodbye, and headed for the restaurant.

They were all sitting together, drinks already in front of them. “Where have you been?” my boyfriend asked with a humorous smile. He had guessed what I’d been up to.  I sat down and shared a private smile with him. And I hoped my friends wouldn’t smell cock on me as I leaned in for a cheek kiss.

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I’ve been fascinated for some time now with bisexual men. Do they really exist? Are they closeted gay men who can’t/won’t make the full transition to gay? How do they manage their desires? Do they like men and women equally, or does it vary down a scale? Not necessarily original questions, I know – I think the world has been asking itself the same questions for a long time now.

My curiosity may have been born when I was a teenager and fell in love with my best friend – a straight guy popular with the girls. I held the hope he would turn out to be gay, or bisexual, and fall back in love with me… but it wasn’t meant to be. He loved me and showed a lot of affection, but it was purely as a best friend – as a brother – but to my young, naive self, it was very confusing, and ultimately painful.

Five years ago, I visited a gay sauna for the first time and shagged a guy who claimed to have a girlfriend waiting for him at home. Then last year, I shagged a married guy with two kids. I didn’t get a chance to ask them about their sexuality – I wish I had.

I’m a firm believer in hearing each person out, letting each individual story speak for itself. What fits one person doesn’t necessarily fit anybody else. I asked recently a reader of this blog, HungMark, a guy who identifies himself as bisexual, how it was for him, and he gave me an insightful answer. But then I thought – why not extend the question to all readers of this blog?

So if there are any bisexual men reading this, I would love to hear from you. How did you discover you were bisexual? How does it work in your relationships? In your attraction to others? Does it perfectly describe how you feel? Or perhaps you don’t even think of yourself as bisexual, but as queer? (In the sense that you are attracted by the person and not by their gender or sexuality?)

Feel free to pose back any questions to me if you wish, or even challenge my views.

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Haggerston Park and Bankers

A beautiful day in London yesterday, after what felt like weeks of poor, chilly weather. As it was Friday and I was under the buzz of a beer with co-workers, decided to walk home through Hackney rather than take public transport.

I’ve been wanting for ages to check out Haggerston Park’s toilets, after reading about it on, and walking past it some months ago. Friday afternoon, sunshine – it was bound to be busy right?

Unfortunately, there was nobody around, apart from some guys drinking beer nearby or sleeping on benches. I had posted a message on Squirt that I would be there soon, and maybe (or maybe not) that’s why a shirtless runner showed up soon, and then a bearded daddy on his bike.  But by then I was sitting outside, enjoying the good weather, so didn’t feel like going back inside.

Some 15 minutes later, a really attractive guy walked past me, full of purpose, straight for the toilets.  I waited a little and then followed – but he was gone.

I came away with the feeling that it’s a good place to meet guys, but it’s probably best to pre-arrange beforehand.


I recently found out about Antonio da Silva’s films. One of them, BANKERS, is a documentary about City bankers who cruise public toilets. The trailer looks interesting, as well as other videos featured on Antonio’s website.

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The Cemetery Boy

I ran into the hot cemetery boy this morning, just outside Hackney Wick station. 

He was dressed in a black t-shirt and shorts, carrying his building material (he mentioning back then he worked as a builder.) He looked as sexy as ever as he bought his ticket and took the Overground to Stratford. I don’t think he saw me.

I’ve had a few messages with him since that encounter. Over Xmas I asked if he wanted to hook up, but he never replied to my WhatsApp. Then I found him on Grindr and later I dropped him a line saying someone I knew was looking for a builder. It didn’t come to nothing but I promised to let him know if I’d hear different.

Actually took me by surprise to see him in person, and in the daylight. It is about one year to the day since our hook up.

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One New Change

A quick visit to Old Street’s tube toilets this afternoon. At the urinals, an elderly man furiously jerking off to my left, a young guy on his phone to my right. I was in and out in 5 minutes.

Sunshine suddenly over London. Walked South to St Paul’s and decided to finally check out the infamous and popular cruising spots in One New Change.

Many city guys on the streets, not so many inside. Went up to the second floor and found the toilets. Two guys stood outside, pretending to be on their phones, checking all comings and goings.

As I walked in a young guy was coming out. All urinals were “out of order” and one of the cubicles was blocked. Nobody was about.

Pissed quickly and as I was washing my hands a muscular guy in tight office clothes came in. Maybe it was my imagination but I think he peeked his butt towards me just before I stepped outside.

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Fourth Sauna Visit

Back in October 2016, my boyfriend and I finally visited a sauna together.

We were visiting Bristol over a long weekend, as part of our anniversary. We had spent the Saturday walking the city, starting with an English breakfast by the harbour, and then exploring the Clifton area, and drinking at the Hobgoblin on Gloucester Road. Throughout the day we had chatted about visiting a sauna – taking the plunge – and we found one called Lads Locker Room, right next door to the Wardrobe Theatre, where we saw an evening comedy performance of puppets.

The sauna’s reception doubled up as a bar. A guy behind the bar buzzed us in and asked if it was our first time. I said it was. Two young guys sat at the bar, one wet and in a towel (later, when we were leaving, he had changed and was working behind the bar.) The other, fully clothed, was good looking and wished us a lacklustre welcome.

It was £12 per head, which I offered to pay for my boyfriend and I. But we didn’t have enough cash – luckily the reception accepted bankcards. The receptionist then told us where the changing rooms were, the showers, the dry sauna, and that the porn room and cabins were upstairs.

The place was nearly empty; it looked nothing like what it promoted on its website. A stocky, bald guy sat in the TV room watching BBC1, and an older man loitered by the stairs. My boyfriend and I got changed, already aware that this was not the experience we were expecting. This wasn’t a sensuous spa with nice facilities and tons of men.

Once we were wrapped in our towels, we went to the shower room, a grim area with three showers that took forever to warm up, no soap, and cleaning buckets forgotten nearby, with brooms and mops sticking out of them. Next to the showers was a broken steam room (which we later found out from a regular had been like that for 6 months – none of that info was on the website.)

We decided to check out the dry sauna, which was empty. Once in there, we looked at each other. There was no need for words – the place was a dump.

‘Oh well,’ I said. ‘It’s an experience.’

Lad's Locker Room

We then decided to check out the Jacuzzi. A solitary man in his 50s sat there, bald with long curly grey hair down his neck. His name was Steve: an assiduous regular and a Brexiter. We quizzed him about the sauna’s best times (“1am, when all the young ones arrive from the clubs”) and the best saunas in the UK (“Sweatbox and Pleasuredrome in London, Oasis in Brighton.”) Soon, the stocky guy we’d seen earlier in the lounge joined us. He had dark skin and was very hairy. He said his name was Mark and that he came from Slovakia (my boyfriend thinks that was a made up name.) Mark would end up spending the night chasing us, following us wherever we went, pressing his leg against my boyfriend’s in the jacuzzi, until it was more than obvious we weren’t interested.

We wandered upstairs out of curiosity and found a tiny dark labyrinth that included glory holes (with two guys making out in there), two cabin rooms (two guys fucking in one of them with the door open) and a large porn room where orgies could take place. We stopped to watch some porn, unable to get hard, and Mark soon walked in with a fit guy (who turned out to be Polish). They laid out their towels and started making out. An older man arrived, carrying a shopping bag with his possessions, lay down nearby and started jerking off. We stood up and went back downstairs.

One positive side to the sauna was that the staff were nice. They gave us tap water when we asked at the bar without any hassle. But after an hour in there, we decided it was best if we left. Some men had started to arrive but they all seemed awkward.

My boyfriend concluded we weren’t meant for that environment, that he couldn’t get excited there. When we got back to our Airbnb, we took showers and tried to remove the smell of that place from us.

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