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Glory hole (sexual slang)

A glory hole (also spelled gloryhole and glory-hole) is a hole in a wall, or other partition, often between public lavatory stalls or adult video arcade booths, for people to engage in sexual activity or observe the person in the next cubicle while one or both parties masturbate.[1] In addition to the penis, fingers or the tongue may be inserted into the hole.

Glory holes are especially associated with gay male culture, and anal or oral sex,[1][2] but may also be used by bisexual or heterosexual men, The partition maintains anonymity. Some gay websites offer directories of glory holes, and gay men sometimes install private glory holes within their residences.

Glory holes are sometimes the topic of erotic literature, and pornographic films have been devoted to the uses of glory holes.[2]


Numerous motivations can be ascribed to the use and eroticism of glory holes. For some, the sheer anonymity is itself arousing. Utilizing a gloryhole is also an easy way to mitigate any perceived physical shortcomings. One social theorist has described the attraction of this form of sexual encounter thus: "The ultimate sexual objectification of gay male sexual encounters is the glory hole in public toilets. As a wall separates the two participants, they have no contact except for a mouth, a penis, and perhaps a hand. Almost total anonymity is maintained as no other attributes are taken into consideration."[3] The glory hole is seen as an iconic erotic oasis in gay subcultures around the world; people's motivations, experiences and attributions of value in its use are varied.[4][5]

In light of the ongoing AIDS pandemic, many gay men are re-evaluating their sexual and erotic desires and practices.[6] Glory holes allow for a physical barrier, which may be an extension of psychological ones where internalized homophobia (a result of many societies' widespread disgust about LGBT practices and people).[6] For some gay men, a glory hole serves to depersonalize their partner altogether as a disembodied object of sexual desire, either sticking through or on the other side of the hole.[6] These motivations might be considered characteristically male motivations, as opposed to specifically gay and or bisexual men's motives.[7]

Legal and health concerns

Public sex of any kind is illegal in many parts of the world, and police undercover operations continue to be used in order to enforce such laws.[8] Adverse personal consequences to participants in glory hole activity have included police surveillance, public humiliation in the press, often with marital and employment consequences, and imprisonment following a criminal conviction. Gay bashing (sometimes by the police), mugging, and bodily injury are further potential risks. For reasons of personal safety, as well as etiquette, men typically wait for a signal from the receptive partner to come through the hole before inserting any part of their genitals through a glory hole.

In addition to safety and legal risks, there is a heightened risk of sexually transmitted infections associated with having sex with infected partners. This risk can be reduced through the use of condoms, although their use in glory hole activity is unusual.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b Murphy, Timothy F. (1994). Gay Ethics: Controversies in Outing, Civil Rights, and Sexual Science. Haworth Press. p. 237. ISBN 978-1-56023-056-4. Retrieved 31 December 2007. 
  2. ^ a b Burger, John Robert (1995). One-Handed Histories: The Eroto-Politics of Gay Male Video. Haworth Press. ISBN 1-56024-860-2. Retrieved 31 December 2007. 
  3. ^ Blachford, Gregg (2002). "Male dominance and the gay world". In Plummer, Kenneth. Sexualities: Difference and the diversity of sexualities. Taylor & Francis. p. 301. ISBN 978-0-415-21275-5. 
  4. ^ Bapst, Don (June 2001). "Glory Holes and the Men who use Them". Journal of Homosexuality 41 (1): 89–102. PMID 11453517. doi:10.1300/J082v41n01_02. 
  5. ^ Tewksbury, Richard (2004). "The Intellectual Legacy of Laud Humphreys: His Impact on Research and Thinking about Men's Public Sexual Encounters". International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 24 (3/4/5): 47. doi:10.1108/01443330410790867. 
  6. ^ a b c Dean, Tim (2000). Beyond Sexuality. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-13934-4. Retrieved 31 December 2007. 
  7. ^ Grant, Linda (1994). Sexing the Millennium: Women and the Sexual Revolution. Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-3349-5. Retrieved 31 December 2007. 
  8. ^ Jaffe, Harold (2005). Terror-Dot-Gov. Raw Dog Screaming Press. p. 28. ISBN 1-933293-09-8. Retrieved 31 December 2007. 

Further reading

External links