What are you into?
Last year, I was walking past Pizza House at 2 a.m. when a tall, athletic guy stumbled out and shouted “Hey, FAG!” in my direction.
Fag. Well, sort of, I thought.
I do have sex with men. Usually it's late at night, and usually it's with men I’ve met on the Internet. I also have sex with women, though that’s a bit more complicated than getting online, sending a few e-mails, and dropping my pants in a stranger's bed.
“Hey, FAG!” The guy did have a point, because less than 20 minutes later I was at a political science major's apartment. He was crouched in front of me on the ground, his hands bound with a belt behind his back.
Hey man. Whatsup?
not too much. u? pretty horny… lol.
Not the most romantic of beginnings, but this isn’t about romance. It’s about sex.
can you host? i need to be super discreet if that’s ok. not out.
I could have guessed as much from the picture he sent. Tall, dark hair, fit and wearing a Michigan Football T-shirt. A college bro who just happens to like fucking other college bros.
Sure. You can come to my apartment.
Now, I wait. It’s always nerve-wracking, but in an exciting kind of way. I take a shot of bad whiskey. In 15 minutes I will be face-to-face with a guy I just met online, and a few minutes after he will be taking off his pants.
When he gets to the door we shake hands, which seems oddly formal. His hair looks wet from the shower, and he smells a little too strongly of Old Spice.
“My roommate’s asleep, so try to be quiet,” I say while leading him toward my bedroom. He notices a glass bowl on my dresser and says far too loudly, “You smoke weed, man?” Yeah. I start packing a bowl.
We make out between hits. He looks like he’s having a good time. I am, too. He starts to fumble with my belt buckle. Finally he gets it undone.
“Nice dick, bro.”
Don’t think anonymous sex between men is some product of the digital age. It's been around as long as locker rooms, bathroom stalls and the CCRB sauna. But for a lot of gay men our age, “cruising” has migrated online. This is hook-up culture on steroids. It’s easier, more anonymous and probably safer. Establishing what you’re comfortable with beforehand is simple.
What are you into? Top or bottom? Any kinks? FWB? I'm 4/20 friendly. m4mm. Bottom for use. I want to be ridden. I want your load. I wanna take it slow. Safe sex only. Just looking to kiss. Just looking for kicks. I'm just curious.
Craigslist, Adam4Adam, Grindr, Manhunt — these are the places to meet, chat, and hook up with other men. Any night of the week you can find pages and pages of profiles, a good number of them University students. Some guys look for friends or dates, but most are just looking to get off. A lot of students identify as either “straight” or “curious.” Even more are “discreet” about their sexualities — in other words, closeted.
Coming out is hard to do. Responding to "Bottom up for grabs" on Craigslist isn't. So for the frat guy who laughs when his friends call someone a fag but secretly wants to kiss another man; for the freshman whose family and politics tells him it's not OK to get off on the gay porn he's been watching since high school; for the guy who’s confused and just wants to try it out; for all these people, online hookups offer the simple thing they've been denied: release.
I’d been with a guy once in high school. In college, I wanted to try it again, but I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of being “out” in any sort of public setting. Somehow, I stumbled upon the m4m section of Craigslist. The more people I hooked up with, the more comfortable I became.
This all must sound kind of seedy. But as long as the sex is safe, consensual and pleasurable, does it really matter how it starts? Is getting online to look for sex any different than going to Rick’s or Charley’s?
Logging on. Perusing. Messaging. Waiting ...
It's another night, another guy. I pick him up in front of his dorm around 1 a.m. After saying hello, we both fall silent. I can tell he’s nervous.
“Have you done this sort of thing before, with a guy?”
“Yeah. A few times.”
He's hot. Dark skin, curly hair, a strong, masculine jawline. Beneath his baggy sweatshirt is a toned and muscular physique.
I ask him if he’s out, and his tone turns defensive.
“No. But I’m not gay. I’m bi.”
It’s clear he doesn’t want to talk, so instead I reach over the stick shift and put my hand on his leg.
“Fuck," he says. “I forgot the condom.”
I pull my hand away. Maybe he’s nervous, or maybe I’m just not his type.
“Oh, that’s fine. We don’t have to do this. I can take you back.”
But he really has forgotten the condom. After he goes back into his dorm to get one, we fuck in the backseat of my car, parked in the back corner of the Music School parking lot. As soon as his shirt comes off, he's not anxious anymore.
But as we’re driving back to his dorm, he's silent again.
Then he asks: “Are you in a frat? You look familiar. I think I saw you at a rushing event.”
I laugh. “No. Not me.”
I can't tell you how many of these hookups I've had. I can tell you there are many more to come. One day I'll settle down, probably with a woman. But that day won't be anytime soon.
For the moment, it's more strangers. More Michigan Football T-shirts. More bad whiskey and Old Spice. There's a whole sexual space on campus that you now know a little about. If it's up your alley, go for it. Log on, peruse. Throw caution to the wind. What are you into?
Clarification: This article was updated to reflect the final version of the article that will run in the Dec. 5 edition of The Statement