One of the first things that comes up when gay men talk about coming out in college, the military, or on a sports team is the dreaded shower issue. Just as recently as this past August news media was still concerned about gay football player Michael Sam showering with his teammates.
Why are people so freaked out about this? We have been showering with you from at least high school on. Yeah, we look. You look at us too. But nothing gets out of hand because us in the shower with you is not the same thing as you in the shower with a bunch of naked girls. We have been conditioned all our lives to keep it cool. Besides, you're not that hot.
Here's a theory: Your obsession about the whole "dropping the soap" thing has to do with how much you think about other guys naked and wet. Relax. It's no big deal.
And just to demonstrate that it isn't us who can't stop thinking about this shower thing, enjoy this collection of images of men in the shower presented by mainstream media, Hollywood, and the military.
Showers in Advertising
From the turn of the last century on, men naked together seems to have sold a lot of soap.
"Serve up to six students." Plus look how much fun they are having! Laughing, tan, and very fit. This new fixture keeps the boys very ... intimate.
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Wow. 1914 must have been a really good year for showers. "Not the least of the pleasures of a hard game is the bath that follows it."
Kind of like a foam party, but less clothing.
What? No privacy? Who doesn't want to take showers with grinning soldiers leering at you?
And note: This series of incredibly homoerotic ads from a towel manufacturer based all the visual on either photographs or stories sent to the company. Wonder where those photos got to?
Yup, men love being in the shower for hours, scrubbing and lathering up, rinsing off, then starting the whole proccess over again. Just don't stay too long or you will get all wrinkly or possibly scrub your nipples right off, like young Billy here.
Really? People did this back then? Who knew the mid-century was so cool with casual nudity?
Baseball great Roger Maris said "sure" when Life magazine wanted to shoot him completely starkers in the shower after a game. Why not?
Seems Life magazine just can't stay out of the men's locker room. Here is America's favorite homophobe, Pat Boone, giving it up for the cameras.
Guy Madison in the standard beefcake shot. OK, so you don't remember who Guy Madison is. Here's your big chance to use that Google search thing all the kids have been talking about.
Dreamboat Robert Wagner. Just because.
Film and the Male Shower
These filmmakers felt that it was important to have groups of naked male actors standing in the showers for hours at a time to help move the plot along on these epic and not-so-epic fims.
Warren Beatty is trying to wash away his lustful thoughts about girls in Splendor in the Grass (1961). While the other boys in the shower (see images below) seem to be making do just fine, thank you, with all-male camaraderie.
Elvis likes to sing in the shower in G.I. Blues (1960).
A sleek Richard Chamberlain hoses it off in Joy in the Morning (1965).
Burt Reynolds gets a helping hand (or two or three) from Dom Deluise and Mel Brooks in Silent Movie (1976).
When reach-arounds reach too far.
Ryan O'Neal seeks renewal in the sequel to Love Story, Oliver's Story (1978).
Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone get naked together in Tango and Cash (1989). Like Charlie's Angels, they are cops, but they also have to do sexy things in prison together.
Sly turns the other cheek.
Isn't it great walking around a men's prison totally naked with no guards or anything?
And just to pump up the hetero anxiety a bit here, Kurt is also forced to don women's garb. It's part of his job, damn it!
The most anxious of all, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007) shows in extensive detail the Pavlovian response in men when the soap is dropped in the showers. And thanks to Ving Rhames, we get some great racial sterotyping as well.
Stoner comedy Half Baked (1998) explores the perenially entertaining prison shower scene. Straight guys can't get enough of this stuff. Yeah, buddy, let's get lit and watch the shower scene again!
For some reason there seemd to alway be a photographer around when extraordinary showering setups were made to keep our boys clean down there. For an amazing collection, see Michael Stokes and Dian Hanson's book from Taschen, My Buddy.Maybe this sounds paranoid, but why are there thousands of photos of naked World War II soldiers? Did the government set this all up?
German soldiers, al fresco.
British soldiers improvising a shower (1943).
German soldiers, being German.
Israeli soldiers, in very close quarters. They have been accepting of LGBT recruits in the armed forces for years. Perhaps that's why they look so happy together.
A private collection of soldiers bathing. For sentimental reasons?
Line up, boys! The shower wagon is here!
Drive-by shower incident.
Various Cultures Record the Showering Habits of Men
Most likely a Russian bathhouse, depicting an unusual massage technique with Cool Whip.
No, not the ice bucket challenge. More Russians, keepin' it clean.
Two of the Tottenham Spurs, bathing together in 1938. Careful with your foot down there, buddy!
Mass showering rituals -- think of any country you like that works for you. This is interactive.
What in the name of God is going on here? The buddy system may be being abused.
No idea. Although the wooden shower shoes are very smart.
As if Busby Berkeley did a steampunk musical number set in the men's shower room. Hopefully those circular stall setups rotate.
Doesn't anyone know there is a drought? Those showers look ouchy!
The Showers Will Be Televised
Some young man somewhere was imprinted for life by seeing Hawkeye in the shower, we guarantee.
Prison showers are a particularly potent concept for those with shower anxiety issues. And Chris Meloni did a wonderful job of keeping us nervous in televison's Oz.
Prime-time male nudity on network TV. Digger gets an eyeful of Hawkeye in M.A.S.H.
So you get it that you are supposedly watching high school boys in the showers durng these scenes from Glee, right? Is that even OK? Darren Criss above and below, Chord Overstreet.
The Art of the Shower
Like classic nudes, only wet. Lather optional.
Just a naked guy watching a bunch of other naked guys. Russian artist Alexander Deineka's 1914 painting After the Battle makes us wonder just how clean Russians needed to be.
Alexander Dudin's 1980 painting of Russian soldiers shows that not much changed in 70 years.
Mad Magazine captures the spirit of male shower anxiety perfectly with Alfred E. Neuman.