3 min

Is my hometown gym a bathhouse? (Part 2)

The challenges of cruising

I’d never really sexualized the gym before, but just being aware that this guy was watching me from across the locker room was arousing. Credit: Kris Steeves

As I headed back to the locker room I knew that I needed to be far more aware of my surroundings if I wanted to find out if guys were cruising at my hometown gym. It used to be crucial for gay men to rely on their senses for cruising, but hook-up sites have diminished the need for this level of intuition. I’m somewhat clueless when it comes to traditional cruising, but I was determined to learn.  

There were eight other men in the locker room, in various stages of undress. I tried to predict their intentions by following their actions and wandering eyes. From what I could gather, there was just one guy who was possibly cruising;  he kept looking over from above his glasses while he dried his hairy chest off with his towel. I found him attractive in a small-town sort of way, but he’d just finished his shower so was on his way out.

As I got naked, I could understand how exhilarating it must be for a closeted gay man to have another guy watch him undress. I’d never really sexualized the gym before, but just being aware that this guy was watching me from across the locker room was arousing. I had a chub.

I remembered this gym having open showers, but they seemed to have replaced them with private stalls that looked more like toilet stalls from the outside. It diminished the homoerotic vibe I experienced in the changing area — how are you supposed to cruise with wooden dividers? Maybe that was the point.

After a quick rinse, I toweled myself off and went to the sauna. When I opened the door, I startled the guy inside who had been laying on top of his towel naked. He shuffled a bit then sat up. I’ve read online that if you’re looking for sex you should show your cock as a sign to others. Was he showing off, or did he genuinely think no one else would come in?

I sat and looked over at him. No, he was definitely looking for sex. I could see it his nervous eyes. As much as I wanted take this further and prove sex did happen here, he wasn’t really my type. I still considered it, but I knew that I couldn’t have sex with him just for the sake of it. And even if he was my type, how can you have sex in a sauna like that? It could only fit six people tops, and there was a window so anybody that walked by could see right in.

A proper “sex” sauna should have more of an irregular shape so you could fool around in the side, and have enough warning to stop if someone comes in. Perhaps the idea with this one is to negotiate the sex in the sauna then move over to the private showers for sex. It really should’ve said something about that online. While I continued overthink it, the guy left.

I decided that I would wait in there for the next guy to come in and just talk to him to prove that I could do this. I was deliberating cruising strategies in my head for at least 10 minutes when finally this guy came, wearing red shorts and a shirt, and red tennis cap. What the hell does this mean? I thought. When he settled in, I looked right over at him — not because I was cruising, but because I sincerely didn’t get it.

“Hello,” I said, keeping my promise to myself. He was stocky and older, with a rugged look. He was pretty hot actually. He seemed caught off guard by me talking to him.

“Hi,” I said. He turned back and lowered his head.

“Is this like a warm-up workout?”

“It’s cold out,” he said.

We sat there silently for at least five minutes. I watched him out of the corner of my eye, trying to catch his, but he wouldn’t look back. I finally concluded that he wasn’t interested. Perhaps he was just warming himself. “Have a good one,” I said, leaving.

Cruising is complicated, I thought to myself as I jumped in the shower again. The circumstance is complex: the idea of closeted, discreet men cruising at a gym that, in my opinion, is the least practical place for cruising. Maybe there was a way to pull it off, but my inexperience wouldn’t allow me to see it. All I knew is that I had to keep at it, and finally master the art of cruising.

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