glory bound

Man who devoted life to creating glory holes in public restrooms receives touching tribute in death

A sign for a restroom public toilet
(Photo: Shutterstock)

An unusual post on Reddit has prompted a flurry of interest in Australia. A user in the harbor city of Newcastle, New South Wales, wrote it.

The poster (@Eel_intent) wanted to pay tribute to a queer man who recently passed. “I won’t use his real name, because y’know, that’d be weird. We’ll just call him Gary.”

“Missus and I met Gary when we moved into our home a couple of years ago and struck up a friendship with Gary when walking past his yard and patting his floofy little dogs.”

“Within that first conversation; after getting to know us a bit first, Gary went on to reveal that it was he who pioneered the installation of glory holes throughout Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Central Coast, and certain parts of Maitland. Gary made it his mission to install cock sockets in the beats of the region so no curious man’s penis would need remain dry.”

“Although he had said that he begun this public service in the mid 60’s, in recent years a lot of Gary’s work was undone just as soon as it was installed, and he was uncertain if any of his dick slots still exist to this day. (I personally have seen only one the entire 22 years I’ve lived here).”

“Gary was a quiet man with no family at all. Just three fancy little dogs and a lifelong passion for meeting men in public bathrooms. I just wanted to put something out there for a man who was, in many ways, an underappreciated part of the city’s infrastructure. Thanks.”

Related: Famed museum sparks controversy by acquiring glory hole for its permanent collection

Remembering “Gary”

Although the credibility of postings on Reddit may be suspect, this seems a pretty odd one to have dreamt up out of thin air. The poster’s responses to some of the questions he received also had an air of authenticity to them.

“What will happen to the dogs?” asked one person.

“Dogs have gone to the dude he was kinda seeing (not really his bf) in Sydney,” replied the poster.

Some people had ideas for special tributes in memory of the man.

“Perhaps changing their names from ‘glory holes’ to ‘Gary holes’ would be a fitting tribute and appropriate way to memorialise this great man,” was one well-liked comment.

Another said, “I’m curious what’s going to be on his headstone? Maybe drill a hole through the top in his remembrance?”

Others had further questions, with one asking how the conversation had turned from “hello, lovely morning to walk my three floofy dogs, isn’t it?” to talk of glory holes in toilets.

“He had been quite isolated,” replied the poster, “and once he found out we’re cozy with the gay community he just let a lot out. It was a good time.”

Others thanked him for posting the tribute to the unknown glory hole maker and shining a light on a lesser-known part of queer culture.

Not everyone is impressed by man’s actions

However, not everyone thought the posting amusing or sweet. A handful of respondents made their displeasure known.

“If I’m using the cubical, I don’t want to see inside the next one. If a kid is in the next one, I’m sure they want privacy too. As a parent, I insist on it. I’m not a fan. I think it’s vandalism and gives homosexuality a bad name. Not sure how to see the practice as not being grotty. FYI : I’m gay, married and have two kids in their 20s.”

The original poster was quick to defend his friend. He pointed out that it was a “legacy” activity that he was sure happened less frequently now. And there were good reasons for closeted men to go to public restrooms for sex in the past.

“Gary was a man of his time. He was not a pervert. He still held ALL of the fears and insecurities brought on by a lifetime of intolerance,” he said.

“Even at 87 years old he would say to my wife ‘I want you to know that I’m not interested in your husband. I can be friends with men without wanting to have sex with them,’ at least once a week. He was slightly paranoid about people knowing this side of him despite his initial comfort with us. He had told us about the times he had the shit kicked out of him and he told us about the month his family disowned him one-by-one until no one was there for him anymore.

“I get what you are saying,” he added. “I even agree with it. However, I am all acceptant of the environment we created together on both sides of the sexual preference pool. Gary was never going to change. Gary had trauma, and intimacy for Gary was something done with stealth and little bit of naughtiness.”

Related: Residents rally to preserve city’s historic glory holes