Pen Pals

There's No Sex in Prison Showers

By Bert Burykill


Photo via Flickr user J. Todd Poling

Let's talk about turning gay in prison. I feel like I’ve written about this before, but let me repeat myself, ’cause the gay/rape question is frequently brought up when discussing jail. Basically, everyone I know thinks I did some gay shit in jail, or got raped or something. It makes me chuckle, ‘cause I never saw rape and rarely even heard rumors about gay hookups. Maybe there are a lot of rapes in the big, scary, maximum-security federal pens where they put the real insane hardened criminals. I don’t know about any of that though.

The average guy in jail is so scared of homosexuals or people thinking that he might be gay that we all wear our underwear in the shower. It’s pretty funny—we’ve all seen the jail shows and heard the endless “don’t drop the soap” jokes, but in all the years I was locked up, I was NEVER NAKED except when getting strip-searched by the cops or during my time in Shock boot camp, where they make you get naked on some psychological belittling bullshit. It was so nice to get out the slammajamma and just be naked. In fact, I’m naked right now, letting my ass and nuts marinate on the couch. I’m naked whenever I can be to make up for all that time I spent clothed in jail.

I don’t know why exactly we were so worried about being naked in front of other men, but I really don’t like it—having other dicks bouncing around me is gross—and I was real happy that everyone wore their boxers in the showers. I've noticed in prisons and gyms that older dudes are cool with other men’s joints flopping around them though, so I guess it’s a generational thing. The OTs (old-timers) shower freeball style, and so do some gay dudes who just don’t give a fuck. I should mention that there are hardly ever any openly gay men in prison but when there is one, no one in the dorm will shower with him. Usually, it’s an understood rule that the gay guy will shower early in the morning when no one else is in there. Some don’t give a fuck and they run up in the shower basically ready to fight, but 99 times out of 100 when they get in the shower, it will clear the fuck out. Inmates are really scared of the gayness.

I don’t want to shower with a gay dude either—sorry if that offends anyone, but it’s the truth. Isn’t it similar to having a woman shower naked next to me? They wouldn’t want to be washing themselves knowing that I’m secretly staring at them and dreaming of licking them nipples hard. Gay guys always say, “Don’t flatter yourself—like I would ever be attracted to someone like you!” But I could easily tell that to a female so she doesn’t get worried about being half naked around me.

Anyway, I bet some inmates really enjoy having a gay man stare at them. That’s a real self-esteem booster, right? I’ve had supposedly straight men tell me that I’m looking good and really getting cut up while I’m in the shower and that makes me uncomfortable—that means they’re staring at my mostly naked body noticing that I’ve been working out, which is like only a couple steps away at most from fantasizing about makin’ sweet love to me. Or maybe I’m just not comfortable with my sexuality. I dunno.

The question I have is, how long does it take the average straight man to change and start feeling gay feelings in prison? I’ve never been remotely close to the point where I’m like, Fuck it, I need some love, I don’t care what type it is, but I imagine a lot of men have made that choice at some point. If you haven’t been with a woman in years and you get to staring at a dude’s physique in the shower while he’s lathering himself up with soap, wouldn’t some guys start imagining how it might not be so bad to start switch-hitting?

In any case, even if some dudes were checking me out, I still felt safe in the shower. It’s not easy to rape someone like it is on TV. How do they just jam it in like that? Is everything pre-lubed and ready to rock? Seems like the logistics of man-rape are pretty tricky. After all, it’s not that easy to ram a cock into a butthole, especially the tight, virgin buttholes that most of us are packing.

Some people hypothesize that we all have a little bit of gay in us but we repress those urges, some more than others. I’m sure a lot of men and women go into jail thinking they are completely straight and eventually start to question that notion, especially if they do a long bid. This would be a very interesting study for some super scientifical psychologist looking to waste everyone’s time, money, and brain power. All I can tell you is that I never saw anything gay in the shower—though that doesn’t mean I wouldn't be real, real happy if I never have to bathe with a bunch of dudes again.

Bert Burykill is the pseudonym of our prison correspondent, who has spent time in a number of prisons in New York State. He tweets here.

Previously: Burying the Dead and Unloved

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