If you are over the age of 35 then chances are you have a vague memory of the whole world being scandalised by the news that in 1998, pop superstar George Michael was arrested for ‘indecent acts’ in a public toilet in Beverly Hills, and thus the whole nation discovered the secret that is Cottaging.
Cottaging is the gay slang term originating in the UK for when men go to somewhere like public toilets with the intention of having anonymous sex with another man there or to pick one up to take elsewhere to have sex. So why the word Cottaging? In England in times gone by public toilets used to look like little cottages and some can still be found such as the one in Pond Square, Camden. It is not just limited to public toilets though and other places where cottaging has proved popular are, bus stations, railway stations and airports.
A lot of popular cottaging spots have Glory Holes which are holes made between cubicles where men can look at each other masturbating or one can put there penis through the hole and receive oral sex. The hole is low down as to provide a certain anonymity where you can see below the waist but not a person’s face.
There is even a secret code to initiate a rendezvous where one person will tap their foot while in the stall to indicate they would like to indulge and if the other person responds by tapping their foot then next steps are taken. The original tapper will slide their foot a little closer to the next cubicle and if the other person also slides their foot closer then that is a sign that it is on and the foot tap was not accidental!
The rise of the internet has meant that chance meetings with the foot code have fallen to the wayside in favour of men actively sharing locations and giving the best time to be there for an encounter. Gone are the days of the silent pick up fraught with danger and now stands a reliable and safer way of initiating these meetings.
Historically gay sex was illegal in the UK with men caught engaging in masturbation or trying to pick someone up being charged with Gross Indecency but if a man was caught having penetrative sex then it carried the term of Buggery which was a capital offence between 1533 and 1861. In 1967 The sexual offences act stated that men over the age of 21 could have sex as long as it was in private. Homophobia was rampant though and policemen would often go undercover as homosexual to try and catch any men who might try to solicit sex or any sexual acts in places such as toilets and then arrest them when they exposed themselves. This kind of entrapment was often thrown out by judges though after it was proven that the policeman tried to entice the other man first.
Although gay sex is not illegal anymore you might still get done for public indecency if caught using a public toilet for anything other than it’s intended use so be careful if you try and join this community!