I’m not like the others: cruising and racism

sea, beach, bushes
This post is about

I’m not very big on sex in public. It never really worked for me, I don’t get a kick out of the fear of getting caught as I’ve heard many men do. I get anxious instead, lose my hard-on and desire and want to leave. I’ve been however in an exploratory phase and it’s something I wanted to expand my limits on.

There’s a place I sometimes go to with lots of bushes and nude men sunbathing, which seems to be internationally the perfect combo for cruising. Last time I was there I was extremely horny so I thought that maybe that was a good time to give sex in the bushes a go. I thought I’d do it on my way home. I got my stuff packed, and had a walk around to have a better look. There were a couple of people walking around too and a couple of hundred meters further down there was a group of greek gay men camping, relaxing and chatting about.

As I was exploring the area I saw a topless man walking towards my direction. He looked handsome. I walked past him, I turned back and we caught each others’ eyes. I wanted him and I felt excited and scared at the same time. I continued walking though, ending up on the other side of the beach. I didn’t know what to do; I certainly didn’t want to go home but I was also anxious to go back and talk to him. Undecided, I took my clothes off and jumped in the sea for a swim. I couldn’t stop thinking about the opportunity I missed. He looked quite hot and I was still horny so I wanted to go back and see if he was still around; or if he wasn’t, at least I could find someone else to do something with.

I jumped out of the sea, dried myself with a towel, packed my stuff again and started walking back. I saw a couple of guys, we checked each other out but they didn’t do anything for me. A couple of minutes later there he was – the guy I saw before. This time he was naked and wet, he must have just come out from the sea. He says “hey, come here”. He has a foreign accent and his greek sounds broken. I take a better look at him, noticing his darker skin. I wave at him shyly with an awkward half-smile. I’m noticing how I increase my pace away from him. He says “hey, don’t go too fast” but I turn to him and say “hey, sorry, I have to go”. I’m confused. Where did my desire go? What happened to what I felt before?

Before I know it I’m in front of the greek gay mens’ camping site. I’m in a weird emotional state which I can’t make sense of. I need something to distract myself so I decide to listen to some music. As I leave my stuff on the ground and I open my bag to get my headphones out, I see the naked man in his car driving towards me. I feel a mild sense of panic. He gets nearer and he slows down. I want him to leave. I do my best to avoid eye contact. He stops right there for a few seconds, looks at me but says nothing; and then he leaves. I feel relieved but also deeply overwhelmed and confused.

What has just happened? I check in with myself and I notice a big wave of fear. I’m literally scared for my life, I’m scared this man will hurt me. I have a history of sexual trauma and I’m thinking that part of my fear is because of it, but there’s something more than that; right at that moment I remember a news story about a greek gay actor who was stabbed to death by his allegedly lover who was a foreigner. It was a big thing that everyone talked about. Stories about foreign people acting in criminal ways and accused of being “the bad ones” were quite common, but it was probably one of the only stories back then that involved gay people.

But it wasn’t only fear I was feeling: there was also shame. I felt ashamed thinking that the greek guys could see our interaction. I didn’t in any way want to be associated sexually with that guy in front of their eyes; I didn’t want them to think I had something to do with him – I’d be stigmatised, I’d be “the guy who fucks with foreigners”.

Reflecting on all these I felt shocked. I was disgusted and angry at myself. Even now that I’m editing and rereading this post, I feel shame and sadness. It’s one thing to read about how we’re all racists in one way or another and to be open about it being true, and another to actually feel it in my bones. I somehow thought I was better than other people who are openly racist. I suppose it is better to at least acknowledge that racism is not okay. But that day I found out how I learned to hide that part of myself well.

I don’t want to hide from myself anymore. That’s why I think it’s important to share this story with you.

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