Nudity in the locker room, he continues, “brings us more than we think we can handle. It’s not just a sexual feeling: It forces [younger men] to question their personal identity, their political identity, their entire classification. We’ve made great important strides [in gay rights], but at the same time it’s having an impact on the general culture that’s not necessarily the intention.”
Maybe it's because I never was (or am) 'one of the guys'. I have always been 'different'. I was more into books than into balls. I was never athletic. The locker room has always been more tense than tantalizing to me. The idea of being in a closed, tight space with a dozen men in different stages of undress never really made me feel comfortable. There is nothing that could cause more terror in a young gay boy than the thought of getting an erection in front of a dozen naked straight (in his eyes) men. The possibility for humiliation and even retaliation is way too big.
I have always liked men. There's never been a doubt in my mind that I liked dick. And I started playing with guys at an early age, so I KNEW what two men could do to each other. Sex was known to me before some of my peers could even kiss a girl or touch a vulva, let alone know what having sex was. For me, the locker room was as homoerotic as a place could be with all that skin in plain view. I knew what men could do to me and how they made me feel. For my peers, it was the place where you went after P.E. It was the place for jokes about tits and for towel burns. The difference in perception was abysmal and so was my level of discomfort. I took the fastest showers in history. That is, when I did any kind of sweating. I'm sure nobody came with so many creative excuses to not go out to the running track than me.
The thing that saved me was that I went to an all-boys Catholic school. Let me explain. The pecking hierarchy was very clear there, but I was lucky. I very quickly found a 'protector' when I needed one. You see, when you're one of the smaller guys in class and you are always with your nose in a book and you get good grades, you quickly become the target of some idiot who will eventually have Grindr in his apps but that will try to fight the feeling for as long as he can. But the bullies never really got to me.
I got Joseph. He was five inches taller than I was and had broad shoulders and long legs. He was beginning to shave when everybody else was still wondering what the deal was with Gillette. Joe and his older brother were boisterous and athletic and extroverted and popular with the girls. But Joseph did not get the grades I got. And he took notice. One day we did some kind of project together. I completed it in no time and in the process made him laugh a few times. Then he bought me a soda to 'reciprocate'. And talked to me during recess. And that was it.
From that day on, I found myself less apprehensive of the locker room because I was barely ever there. I ended up helping around the soccer field, not actually having to play. Or picking up equipment in the pool room instead of having to practice my butterfly stroke. Or running errands for the coaches and pushing paperwork at the infirmary. All because of Joe. He 'put a word' for me with the right people and I got to be 'excused' of some of the things that would have made me have to use the locker room, like actually sweating during PE.
And of course he knew I was absolutely infatuated with him. He flirted with me mercilessly, but treated me more like a pet than like a man. He could have fucked me all he wanted but he never did. He was very close to kissing me once behind the old Boy Scout's storage room building but I panicked and ran. I know, I was young and silly. He never tried to get physical with me again. Then I changed schools during my last year of high school and never saw him again. I imagine he's married with children now. Working a nine-to-five job and paying a 35-year mortgage. But to me he'll always be Joe. The guy that saved me from the locker room.