This question concerns both sex and etiquette: How much privacy can one reasonably expect while engaging in consensual sex in a sex club? While visiting one of those open-to-the-public establishments that cater to men who want to get off with other men, I saw an uptight but openly gay prig who is a member of my social circle. I shared this fact with a straight-but-gay-friendly woman while dishing the dirt over cocktails. She blabbed it to others.
This issue has turned a group of adult men and women into a squabbling mob of kids at recess. Three camps have formed on our little playground: (1) There is some kind of fag code of honor that nobody ever told me about that says that whatever deeds take place in these establishments stay there. (This is Mr. Prig's position.) (2) One is free to talk about what one sees in a sex club but one should be discreet when sharing that information. (Telling a straight woman, for example, would be out of bounds.) (3) If you choose to rim one man while being sucked by another in full view of 30 people in a quasi-public place in New York City, well, you've really blown any expectation of anonymity. (This is my view.)
Your input as an expert on sex and manners would be greatly appreciated.
I forwarded your letter to Judith Martin, a.k.a. Miss Manners, who regularly tackles etiquette questions in her very fine advice column. Alas, gentle reader, Miss Manners has not, as of this writing, done me the courtesy of responding to my query. Therefore I shall, with your kind indulgence, wing it:
The gay man who cultivates a priggish persona--the type who makes an elaborate show of disgust when he hears of other gay men's feats of sexual daring-do--must never allow himself to be seen in public engaged in a sex act that requires more than two dozen syllables and four languages to accurately catalogue, e.g., an exhibitionist homosexual ménage à trois featuring analingus and fellatio. (That's 27 syllables by my count, with English, French, Latin, and Greek all featured.)
As for the amount of privacy a person can "reasonably expect" in a sex club, a prig may desire privacy in a public sex environment, hoping that others present will be as discreet as the prig is being indiscreet, but there's nothing reasonable about that expectation. In fact, it's thoroughly irrational. As for the first camp's position--"[there's a] fag code of honor that says that whatever deeds take place in [sex clubs] stay there"--that's news to me. Most gay men, as most gay men should be aware, are terrible gossips. If you don't want gay men gossiping about your sex life, don't have sex in front of a crowd of gay men. Likewise, the second camp's position--gay men, as a rule, should be discreet--isn't grounded in reality. If discretion is a "rule," well, it's one that gay men flout as aggressively as we do those "sexual conduct strictly prohibited" signs posted in the locker rooms of better health clubs.
While most gay men regard rimming and sucking as relatively vanilla, performing both at once in front of 30 men is a remarkably sleazy thing to do--and it's Mr. Prig's own fault his sex-club tableau was so remarkable. Had Mr. Prig refrained from misrepresenting himself to his social circle, then there wouldn't have been anything remarkable about spotting him in a sex club with his tongue wedged in a strange man's rump. If your friends knew him for an ass-eating sleaze-o-rama, you wouldn't have had the dirt on him. That Mr. Prig's public sexual conduct conflicted so outrageously with his publicly stated beliefs about sex made his behavior remarkable and blabworthy. Mr. Prig is a hypocrite, now unmasked, with no one to blame but himself for his humiliation.
Finally, let me remind my gentle readers that rimming is not a first-date activity, nor is it something anyone should perform in sex clubs on a perfect stranger. While low-risk for HIV, rimming is high-risk for everything else, and if you don't know how recently your companion has showered, rimming is in terribly poor taste. I believe Judith Martin disagrees on this point, but Miss Manners takes a more permissive position on oral-anal contact than I, which is her prerogative as a lady.
My older sister is marrying the father of her six-month-old. The problem is, until last year she was a lesbian. Every time my sister talks about her wedding, I want to gag. Does she really think that people don't remember the militant lesbian she was not two years ago? Now she puts down lesbians whenever she can, which really hurts me considering I'M A LESBIAN. My dad is ecstatic that she has converted (he is super-religious). I feel like I can't trust anything my sister says or does. Any words of advice?
-Lost a Sister
Before offering advice, I would like to commiserate. Ten years ago, I had three lesbian pals. They all ate pussy and sucked tittie and did each other with strap-ons. Today, one of my lesbian pals is married to a man, another is living with a man, and the third is a man. Oddly enough, none of the gay men I know have ever run off and married a woman, dated a woman, or become a woman. When I think about my three lesbian buddies--and other famous ex-lezzies, like Anne Heche--I think, "Gee, what is it about being a dyke that's so easily shrugged off?" Any thoughts, lezzies?
As for your sister, LAS, while you can't stop your sister from getting hitched, nowhere is it written that you have to play along with the homophobic amnesia. Tell your sister that unless she knocks off the put-downs, you will seize every opportunity to remind her, her husband, and dear ol' dad just what a world-class carpet-muncher she used to be. And when the dumb breeder's child is old enough to understand carpet munchin', you'll make damn sure the kid knows about how mom used to bury her face in deep shag.
In other ex-lesbian news, Reuters reports that a heartbroken 37-year-old lesbian tried to kill her female 35-year-old lover with a spear gun after being dumped for a man. Luckily for the ex-lesbian, her ex-girlfriend was a bad shot, and missed. And in soon-to-be ex-lesbian news: A female couple in Somali has been sentenced to death for "exercising unnatural behavior." Somalia's legal code is based on that lop-off-their-hands/off-with-their-heads Islamic sharia law, which prescribes death for homosexual acts. It's too bad for these unfortunate Somali women that they're not a pair of 175-foot-tall lesbians carved into the side of a mountain, in which case the world might give a shit that they were about to be wiped off the face of the earth by a pack of intolerant religious asswipes.
Confidential to Amicably Seeking Opinion or Diagnosis & Chicago Dreamer:
Yes, you're both gay. In fact, you couldn't be gayer if you pooped pink triangles. ASOOD: Try looking in the mirror when you're not high. CD: It might be a good idea to drop the girlfriend, get away from the fundie, and start realizing your all-consuming "fantasies" before you turn 30.