Dating someone new is an exciting, uncertain time that’s usually filled with a lot of questions — and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic threw all of our lives for a loop.
But after “glory holes” trended on Twitter across Canada this week, how to safely have sex is back in the conversation for Canadians, particularly in British Columbia where the provincial Centre for Disease Control has published some helpful guidelines on the topic.
“Use barriers, like walls (e.g., glory holes), that allow for sexual contact but prevent close face-to-face contact.,” the site recommends.
WATCH: Safe dating tips during the coronavirus pandemic. Story continues below.
The organization also suggests washing yourself before and after sex, wearing a mask and limiting kissing as other ways to prevent the spread, and also included guidelines specifically for sex workers navigating safe work and COVID-19.
But many Twitter users latched on to the glory hole tidbit as particularly notable.
It’s fair to say the glory hole is having a moment.
What is a glory hole?
For the uninitiated, a glory hole commonly refers to a wall with a hole in it to facilitate sexual contact. Glory holes are largely associated with gay male culture or sex work and have historically been used as a way to maintain anonymity between participants.
But they can also be a way to maintain distance from respiratory droplets. According to the CDC, glory holes and other barriers can be a great idea during the COVID-19 pandemic because the participants’ faces aren’t close together and thus those pesky respiratory droplets are less likely to spread.
B.C.’s not the first to give the thumb’s up to going down through a hole. Public health officials in other places, including New York, have recommended using large barriers like glory holes as a potential way to avoid spreading COVID-19.
The B.C. CDC’s recommendations largely apply to people seeking out new or multiple partners in a short period of time outside of your social bubble. If you’re monogamous, you’re hopefully already in regular conversation about each other’s COVID-19 situation.
Back in May, the province’s chief medical officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gave her advice for dating during the pandemic.
“The people I have contact with, it means I’m contacting their contacts,” she said. “So if they’re somebody who’s been with a whole bunch of other people, then my risk would go up.”
“Pick somebody, see if it works and then take your time.
Navigating consent, pleasure preferences, sexually transmitted infections and more for the first time is always tricky, whenever you’re starting a new long-term relationship or simply pursuing casual sex. Factoring in the pandemic brings added risks and conversations that need to happen.
Sex is much more than “traditional” heterosexual penetration between a cisgender man and woman. Sex can be all sorts of things — and those things can involve everything from glory holes to dental dams to face masks and more.
Because we know so little about the coronavirus, there’s research ongoing into the various COVID-19 risks associated with sexual contact, including one study looking into if the virus can be transferred through vaginal fluid — relevant information for all types of people looking to engage in oral sex.
That’s to say, we still don’t know everything. What matters most about sex all of the time, not just during a global pandemic, is that it’s between consenting adults and everyone’s being safe.
So go ahead, give the glory hole its glory moment!