The fire-eater outrage over transgender access to toilets makes me grateful that conservatives don’t know about some of the things I’ve done in public restrooms, otherwise there’s not a gay man in America who would be allowed to piss indoors. There’s an immaturity in the mainstream perception of public bathrooms, a pretending that they haven’t always been places where people can do things other than urinate, that makes it hard to engage in the current debate.
I don’t worry about transgender individuals introducing perversion into public restrooms, either directly or inadvertently, since an overwhelming majority of them, like most straight, gay and lesbian people, simply want to relieve their bladder and/or bowels. I imagine some of them, like some straight, gay and (maybe?) lesbian folks, indulge in an occasional moment of naughtiness in those restrooms – with a consensual partner, and unseen by those not involved.
No one’s arguing for the right of transgender folks to fuck in the restroom that matches their gender identity, but it feels absurd to discuss public restrooms without the baseline recognition that they’ve never been chaste. Despite the lust that’s been exchanged in them over centuries, America’s public restrooms are not breeding grounds for pedophiles and sexual predators, and it’s densely bigoted to suggest they will be made less safe or sanitary if transgender individuals aren’t screened before peeing.
This month (or maybe early June) is the 20th anniversary of the first time I had full intercourse with a guy, which, as I’ve written before, occurred in the bathroom of a public library. I had been having sex with girls for three years prior to that – in my family’s apartment, the locker rooms of public pools, and friends’ bedrooms – but knew all of the traditional venues for teenage exploration were off limits for he and I, so I penetrated him in the only locked, private chamber either of us knew.
Our public indecency lasted no more than a minute, which I’ll blame on adolescent adrenaline, and we probably spent more time cleaning up than having sex. I’ve thought about that experience, and the summer of ’96 in general, as the song “My Boo” has been resurrected via the Running Man Challenge meme.
“It’s weird because I remember how it absolutely sucked being a closeted gay teenager,” I wrote on Facebook. “But ‘My Boo’ always fills me with a fond nostalgia for a time of secret desires, private liaisons, and simply being a fast/mannish child trying to find his way in this society.”
The status update led to a private message from a childhood classmate who is casually unbigoted toward LGBT rights, but who admitted being dazed by the explicit reminder that I was gay during that era. For him, a homosexual is something I became when I grew up, rather than something I was, something that regulated who I could be, when we were in first, third or tenth grade; when we bragged or teased about juvenile romantic exploits and interests, or showered with our teammates after practice.
I wish I could’ve been more of myself throughout childhood, that it wasn’t so clear to me that I must be someone I wasn’t in order to be loved, liked or even accepted. I resent having been forced into incomplete friendships and modified rites of passage, although there are worse stories about losing one’s virginity, I’m sure.