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Glory hole (sexual slang)

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Title: Glory hole (sexual slang)  
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Subject: LGBT slang, Sexual slang, Cottaging, Cruising for sex, Daddy (gay slang)
Collection: Casual Sex, Euphemisms, Lgbt Slang, Pornography Terms, Sexual Slang, Sexuality and Society
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Glory hole (sexual slang)

A glory hole is visible in the wall (left) in this lavatory.

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, or by men who do not identify as gay, bisexual, or heterosexual. The partition maintains anonymity. Some gay websites offer directories of glory holes, and people 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]


  • Motivations 1
  • Legal and health concerns 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6


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 HIV pandemic, many gay men re-evaluated their sexual and erotic desires and practices.[6] It is suggested by queer theorist Tim Dean that 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]

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.[7] 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.

See also


  1. ^ a b Murphy, Timothy F. (1994). Gay Ethics: Controversies in Outing, Civil Rights, and Sexual Science. Haworth Press. p. 237.  
  2. ^ a b Burger, John Robert (1995). One-Handed Histories: The Eroto-Politics of Gay Male Video. Haworth Press.  
  3. ^ Blachford, Gregg (2002). "Male dominance and the gay world". In Plummer, Kenneth. Sexualities: Difference and the diversity of sexualities. Taylor & Francis. p. 301.  
  4. ^ Bapst, Don (June 2001). "Glory Holes and the Men who use Them". Journal of Homosexuality 41 (1): 89–102.  
  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.  
  6. ^ a b c Dean, Tim (2000). Beyond Sexuality. University of Chicago Press.  
  7. ^ Jaffe, Harold (2005). Terror-Dot-Gov. Raw Dog Screaming Press. p. 28.  

Further reading

  • "The Little Black Book: This one can keep you out of trouble," (Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • "Gloryholes" essay at
  • An article that gives legal advice on cruising for sex.
  • Green, Jonathon (2006). Cassell's Dictionary of Slang (2nd ed.). London: Sterling Publishing.  
  • Gage, Simon; et al. (2002). Queer. Thunder's Mouth Press.  
  • Zeeland, Steven (1995). Sailors and Sexual Identity: Crossing the Line Between "Straight" and "Gay". Haworth Press. (Includes several glory hole encounters by Navy members)  
  • Humphreys, Laud (1970). Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Public Places (Enlarged Edition (1975) ed.). Aldine Transaction.  
  • Bapst, Don (2001). "Glory Holes and the Men Who Use Them". Journal of Homosexuality 41 (1): 89–102.   (quote from the abstract)
  • Holmes, Dave; O'Byrne, Patrick; Murray, Stuart J. (2010). "Faceless Sex: Glory Holes and Sexual Assemblages". Nursing Philosophy 11 (4): 250–259.  

External links

  • A Sex Stop on the Way Home by Corey Kilgannon, New York Times, September 21, 2005
  • The Little Black Book: This one can keep you out of trouble, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund; archived copy, pdf format, archived here. An article regarding legal issues of sex in public restrooms.
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