At the beginning of last year, I wrote extensively about what happened during my second attempt at visiting a gay sauna alone for the first time. There were a couple of scenes I left out because I didn't think it was important, but looking back now, I realised how those things have indirectly determined how far I've come in my journey.
For those who doesn't know, a gay sauna is a men-only bathhouse catered specifically for guys to have fun. You pay an entrance fee, you get a towel and a locker key with a colour-coded wristband. You strip down to only a towel around the waist and go wander around amidst other men to have some fun.
So there was a point in my visit where I found myself cramped into a small steam room with about 14 other men. No action was happening and my guess was because nobody was interested in nobody. Everybody was either just sitting around or leaning their backs against the cedar wood-cladded wall. There were sounds of people breathing and coughing.
I didn't know anything about sauna or cruising etiquette. I was me. A struggling closeter trying to get a taste of the adult gay world. I wasn't getting any action at all and I didn't know how. As I observed how silent the steam room was, I thought I could play the friendly traveller card and get people to respond. Because who doesn't like a friendly traveller?
As I listen to the breaths and the steam, I grew a thick face and said: "So! Is everyone here just gonna keep quiet?", I kept a cool smile as the echo of my sentence bounced off the walls.
The steam room was in shock because somebody had spoken in a sexually charged air. It was uncomfortable, it was awkward and it was everything a cringe-worthy moment is. Guys who were looking down on the floor looked up, guys with arms folded re-adjusted their posture, guys who were silent coughed to clear their throats. There was also a small subtle chuckle in the background as everybody tried to ignore what just happened.
Seeing as there was a response and not having gotten the hint myself, I proceeded with another sentence and went: "So! Do you guys all live here in this city?" Somebody answered: "No" from the background while others remained silent. There was a little acquaintance session going on between me and one or two guys but people were getting annoyed and some have even started to think about exiting the steam room.
"Really! Then where are you guys from?", I responded in a friendly manner. But that was the last straw I pulled as people started leaving the steam room, effectively freeing up so much space all of a sudden. Two guys on their way out responded a friendly: "Australia!" to me before going out the door.