Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Are all the straight guys really straight?

No of course they're not! And looking back, the best example I have from my own experiences at the moment is from about seven years ago.

One of the nice things about working in an investment bank is that the trading floors tend to be filled with good-looking men. They’ll talk about their girlfriends, wives, or if they’re single their female conquests, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t dabble on the gay side too.

Like many investment bankers I often work long hours, which can be very stressful if one is having a bad day or a bad week. So occasionally when I am feeling stressed I go to a gay sauna at lunchtime to try and unwind. My favourite is called Pleasuredome at Waterloo and it’s still there, although I haven’t been for ages now. Seven years ago it advertised itself as the only 24 hours gay sauna in London and maybe it still is. Back then Chariots had only recently opened, but didn’t open its doors until noon so it was no good for lunchtimes because no one was there yet.

You sometimes hear the old cliché “oh I don’t recognise you with your clothes on” but that day the reverse was true for me, I didn’t recognise him with his clothes off. Not at first anyway, after all, I'm the only gay in the office aren't I?

So one lunchtime after a particularly stressful morning I’m at Pleasuredome and I spot this guy who bears quite a resemblance to T from the bank. We catch each other’s eye as we walk right past each other. T is quite a close colleague, and in my eyes is probably the cutest guy on the trading floor, and I had thought one of the straightest. A little later I see the same guy on the other side of the café area, pity I won’t be able to tell T that he’s got a gay double (I’m not openly gay in the bank). Later I walk into one of the steam rooms and T’s double is there, so I go and sit close to him to get a better look. He’s starting to get very involved with the guy sitting next to him. Just as the guy sitting next to him lowers his head and starts sucking T’s erection, I look T straight in the eye again and we both realise the situation we’re in.

I think the situation is hilarious, I try to stop myself because laughing is a very inappropriate thing to do in a gay steam room where men are in various stages of having sex with each other. I’m slightly embarrassed in the same way that it can seem embarrassing to see friends or colleagues naked in the gym showers; T on the other hand is happily married and getting a blow job from another man. I’ve never seen a guy change his mind so quickly about receiving a blow job, and the poor guy who was starting to work on T’s cock must have wondered what on earth he had done wrong.

I don’t see T again until we’re both back in the office in the afternoon. We sit very close, back to back to each other along a small aisle on the trading floor. We both try to pretend that nothing has happened, but every time I start talking to him a huge smile appears across my face and T tries hard not to blush. Because we can’t talk about it, I feel quite strongly that there’s unfinished business between us, which will last until we are able to discuss it.

It’s not until about 3 months later when I’m at Pleasuredome around 6pm that I see T there again. I’d had a dental appointment so had left work early, but the dental check-up finishes quickly so I take the opportunity to visit Pleasuredome before going home to boyfriend number 1. T has just arrived, and is still in the changing area, he’s just stripped off and put his towel round himself and he’s having a cigarette. His body language suggests he’s having the cigarette to relax and give himself the courage to enjoy himself there. So I walk past him on my way to the café area and say “didn’t think I’d see you here again”.

He can’t avoid it now, so he comes up and sits at the same table as me in the café area. The poor guy looks very uncomfortable indeed. “Err, I didn’t know you come here”, he starts. “But we saw each other here one lunchtime a few months ago”, I reply. “Hmmm, I don’t think so”, he says. It’s not clear to me what he has to gain from denying a past visit when he’s can’t deny the current one. I tell him that I’m gay, that I’ve got a long term boyfriend, and ask him if he’s gay. “I don’t know”, he says. “You’re probably bi-sexual”, I say, hoping to re-assure him. But when he hears that, his body language suggests that he thinks he’s a straight guy who just happens to visit Pleasuredome for a bit of harmless fun once in a while. I can remember denying to myself for ages that I was gay so I feel sympathetic. “Don’t worry”, I say as I leave to get changed, “I won’t tell anyone in the bank that we met here”.

Back at the bank we get on much better after that. Within a year I move to a different bank, and about a year after that I hear that his wife has had a baby and they’re immigrating to New Zealand. Whatever his true sexuality is, I hope he’s worked it out by now, and I hope he’s happy.

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