public toilets

This New Museum Exhibition Is All About Sexy Dirty Gay Hookups in Public Toilets (Photos)

You’re at the urinal and you feel him glance over his shoulder, trying to get a peek at your package. You’re turned on by his voyeurism. You look back, and your eyes meet. Soon, you follow him into a stall. He slams the door shut and gets on his knees. This fantasy, while fictional, is exactly what a new museum exhibition profiles: the subject of gay sex in public toilets.

“Public Toilets, Private Affairs” is an exhibition running now at Berlin’s Schwules Museum. It features the work of French photographer Marc Martin. The photographer has embarked on a project of taking photos in public toilets. His work, which often includes models, broadly explores these male fantasies that historically have an important place in gay culture.

“Urinals have always had a bad reputation,” the website for the exhibition — running now until February 8 — reads. “For some years now, French photographer Marc Martin has been exploring the history and the stories of public toilets, from Paris to Berlin.”

public toilets

It continues:

In these shrines, hijacked by men who have sex with men for generations, countless relationships and friendships have been forged, furtively, intensely, unexpectedly. This re-purposing of public toilets will have left many more traces in the archives of vice squads than it has in the annals of world literature. Such activities are, even today, more synonymous with shame than with gay pride. And yet, these public toilets, whose history is intertwined with the lives and adventures of many gays, trans people, escorts, libertines, are also unlikely bastions of freedom.

RELATED | Let’s Examine 150 Years of Men Cruising Public Restrooms (and Its Social Consequences)

One other interesting factor to note is that Berlin’s official public transport service sponsored the exhibition.

In addition to Martin’s photographs, the exhibition includes quotes from gay French writers Jean Genet and Arthur Rimbaud. Plus, film historian and journalist Marc Siegel also contributes important historical context for Martin’s work.

 

Here are some images from the exhibit:

Siegel spoke to GayStarNews and lauded the exhibition as, “an overdue exploration of an important part of queer culture and the culture of homosexual sex more broadly.”

He went further on to say, “Exploring the culture of sex in public toilets is also a means of thinking about the damages urban development, gentrification, privatization and surveillance have wrought on the existence and use of public space.”

RELATED | The Case for Decriminalizing Gay Sex in Public Parks

He continued:

That said, we shouldn’t think sex in public toilets is completely relegated to the past. Thankfully, men still meet up for sex with strangers in toilets in universities, hotels, train stations and other public and semi-public locations. And, of course, there’s still park sex – at least in Berlin, where I live.