When I was a college student in Champaign-Urbana perhaps when you were still in diapers there weren’t too many places to meet other gay people.
There was one gay cha-cha palace full of cologne queens and drag queens. There were four or five adult bookstores around town with glory holes drilled between the video booths. There was the sauna at the University of Illinois Intramural-Physical Education Building. There was the campus gay group, where none of the guys was attractive to me.
And then there were the 15 or so campus “tearooms” (or, if we follow Associated Press Stylebook hints, then “T-rooms”) men’s rooms where people like U.S. Sen. Larry Craig (according to a police report) still meet for sex.
Or, sometimes, simply just meet.
I met my boyfriend of those years in the T-room in the southeast corner of the basement of the student union. We actually never had sex there; it’s just where we met, given the limited options for meeting other gay guys that existed in 1985 in Champaign-Urbana.
But it took me a while to meet Rick a year or so during which I spent enough time in University of Illinois T-rooms to learn precisely how T-rooms work.
I learned the ropes even though in my own (probably very atypical) case I was looking for a boyfriend rather than toilet sex. I simply had realized, via process of elimination, that the U-of-I T-rooms were my best bet for finding the sort of guy I was looking for in the time and place in which I found myself.
Now, to U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho .
The police report says Larry Craig peered through the crack (the one that allows the bathroom-stall door to swing) into the undercover police officer’s stall for two minutes. This is what cruisers do in T-rooms look through cracks.
Larry Craig sat down on a toilet and subtly tapped his foot several times and waited to see if the guy on the other side of the partition subtly tapped his foot in return. This is precisely how T-room cruisers communicate to each other that they’re there to hook up rather than use the facilities.
Larry Craig then took his hand, palm upward, and ran it along the bottom of the stall divider so that the individual on the other side of the partition could see Larry’s fingers making an inviting “come hither” gesture. The police report says he did this three times.
This gesture has a precise meaning and is universally understood in the men’s-room cruising scene. It translates as: “Get down on your knees and place your penis underneath the partition so I can touch or fellate it.”
Larry Craig has said he’s not gay. Perhaps he’s not. Maybe he’s bisexual. Or maybe he’s a straight guy who has sex with other men. It happens.
Larry Craig has said he didn’t do anything inappropriate in the Minneapolis airport bathroom in which he was arrested.
From this we have no choice but to conclude that Larry Craig doesn’t think T-room cruising is inappropriate.
Because cruising the T-room is exactly what he was doing, unless the police officer made up all those very precise, on-the-mark details.
There are about 10 million other gay guys in America who, like me, are perfectly fluent in the language that Larry Craig was speaking in that Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport men’s room and millions more around the globe, because it’s truly an international language.
I couldn’t care less if Larry Craig comes out of the closet.
But I will not let him tell me he wasn’t cruising. He could teach a Cruising 101 course.
Unless, of course, the officer made it all up.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 7, 2007