The gloryhole, a hole in a bathroom stall or partition used for anonymous sexual encounters, has a long and controversial history in men’s rooms. The origins of the gloryhole are unclear, but it is believed to have first appeared in the 1700s in public bathhouses in Europe.
The first documented instance of a glory hole was in a 1707 court case known as the “Tryals of Thomas Vaughan and Thomas Davis” in London, England, which involved the extortion of a man known in the documents only as Mr Guillam.
In these bathhouses, men would use the gloryhole to engage in anonymous sexual encounters with other men. The practice quickly spread to other public spaces, including public toilets and restrooms. By the 1800s, the gloryhole had become a popular fixture in men’s rooms around the world.
Some men in the Victorian era resorted to using the alleys and side streets of cities to sexually relieve themselves. In these dark and dingy areas, men would often carve holes into the wooden panels of buildings or use existing holes to engage in anonymous sexual encounters.
The popularity of the gloryhole continued to grow in the 20th century, with the advent of more private and secluded restrooms. These restrooms provided more opportunities for anonymous sexual encounters, and the gloryhole became a fixture in many of them.
However, as the public became more aware of the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases in the latter part of the 20th century, along with rabid homophobia the use of gloryholes began to decline. Many public restrooms began to remove or cover up the holes in an effort to discourage anonymous sexual encounters.
Despite these efforts, the gloryhole has remained a fixture in men’s rooms around the world. Some argue that the use of the gloryhole is a victimless crime, while others argue that it contributes to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and is a danger to public health.
In recent years, the rise of online dating and hookup apps has made it easier for men to find sexual partners without the use of gloryholes. However, the practice remains popular among some groups of men, particularly those who seek out anonymous sexual encounters or who are part of the BDSM community for the thrill of it all..
The legality of the gloryhole varies by country and jurisdiction. In some places, the use of gloryholes is considered a form of public indecency and can result in criminal charges. In other places, the use of gloryholes is legal as long as it is done in a private setting.
Ironically in In June 2020, a New York Health Department COVID-19 advisory suggested sex through “physical barriers, like walls,” but did not specifically reference glory holes, as part of broader measures on dating and sex during the pandemic.
The history of the gloryhole in men’s rooms is a complex and multifaceted one that spans several centuries. While the use of gloryholes has faced opposition from conservative groups and law enforcement, they remain a popular way for men to engage in anonymous sexual encounters today. That is if you can find one.