Anonymous gay male writes an essay on his experiences at a gay sauna in Korea. Writing…
It is Friday night. Down one alley of a busy shopping and entertainment district of Seoul, young men move through what appear to be closed doors of a dilapidated building. A slow trickle of customers — some dressed in suits, others as hipsters — enter the inconspicuous establishment, seeking to unwind after the weekly grind. Welcome to one of Seoul’s many gay saunas.
The traditional sauna is everywhere in South Korea. They are very much part of the modern South Korean landscape. Parents take their children to bathhouses to get a good scrub and soak. And the dry area is where families can rest, gather, and socialise while sipping a refreshingly cold and sweet beverage, known as sikhye.
But saunas are sometimes more than just places to rest. There one can literally strip down, discarding one’s name, status, and social markers, freeing oneself from people’s gazes or judgement, and becoming just a naked, anonymous body. Whatever strains or pressures life may bring, the sauna can be a place of freedom, as I discovered in one such for gay men.
To read more of it in its entirety go to A Night at the Gay Sauna: Where Desire Comes Out