(Re)regulating Gay Sex in Viral Times: COVID-19 and the Impersonal Intimacy of the Glory Hole

Ashford, Chris and Longstaff, Gareth (2021) (Re)regulating Gay Sex in Viral Times: COVID-19 and the Impersonal Intimacy of the Glory Hole. Culture, Health and Sexuality, 23 (11). pp. 1559-1572. ISSN 1369-1058

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/13691058.2021.1930173


COVID-19 has transformed the way we live our lives, and sex has been a significant element of that transformation. Gay male sex in the UK has faced the most significant (re)criminalisation and (re)regulation in living memory with intimacy outside of the heteronormative framework of domestic coupledom at best discouraged and, at worst, made into a criminal offence. This criminalisation provides a temporal praxis in which gay men experience sex in the shadows once more, an echo of a historic legal and cultural regulation of desire. This history also provides a space for experiencing forms of impersonal intimacy and queer desire in a way that is arguably well-suited for viral times, namely the glory hole. These historic partitions and apertures – connecting gay men across legal and cultural boundaries of desire and affirmed through modes of anonymous and promiscuous sex – may once again provide a queer way to experience intimacy as impersonal. This article explores this potential and situates the glory hole as a cultural and legal site of this tension between the intimate and the impersonal, as well as considering how it is being recast as commercial artefact and performance space during these viral times.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: glory hole, COVID-19, impersonality, intimacy, desire
Subjects: L900 Others in Social studies
M200 Law by Topic
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Northumbria Law School
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 12 May 2021 11:17
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2022 03:32
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/46150

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