I first visited a gay sauna 25 years ago and have done so about once every six weeks since. Only adults are admitted; all that happens is by mutual consent; no one is exploited; common courtesy and consideration for others are the unwritten rules that are generally observed. Though I have always enjoyed nudity, I used to think of my body as unattractive. For years I disliked my given name. I have made a point of telling it to those I have met in the sauna; hearing it repeated with tenderness and passion has taught me to love it. When clothes are off, intentions clear and vulnerability shared, men talk honestly to men they may know only then and may never meet again.
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My mother's husband confessed to having spied on me in my bedroom and bathroom years ago. Figuring out how to maintain a relationship with him — and with my mother — has been traumatic, even if they don't consider it sexual abuse. My last visit back to Florida to visit my mother was years ago. In the morning I would wake up and find an empty coffee cup and a shining teaspoon waiting for me on a folded paper towel before the coffeemaker, its big glass belly filled with Folgers that had been sitting there for a while, getting gnarly and more caffeinated with the passage of time. Taking my cup out onto the lanai, I would join my mother in the haze of cigarette smoke that filled the room, its own atmosphere. Together we would get amped on coffee and nicotine — mine secondhand. Once properly lit, my mother and I would head out to the thrift stores that line the highway of her Podunk, nowhere town.
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The police officer who arrested Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, in a men's restroom at the Minneapolis airport for allegedly looking to engage in gay sex wrote in his June report that he "recognized a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his foot up and down and swiped his hand underneath the bathroom stall in which the undercover cop was sitting, according to the police report. Those actions led to Craig's arrest by Detective Dave Karsnia and the senator's guilty plea to a disorderly conduct charge. Craig told reporters today that he did nothing inappropriate and said his guilty plea was a mistake.
When I was 12 years old I had a sleepover I will never forget. Me and my friends Alex and Mitchell were all sleeping over at Alex's house. We had all just woken up and Alex's mom had left us a note in the kitchen "hope you all slept well. I'm out for the day and won't be back until about 4PM this afternoon. You can get breakfast and I left money for you to order a pizza on the counter.