The Hot Times Collective is an open collective of folks in Halifax who got together in January 2012 to create positive spaces and events for queer people to explore, express, and enjoy their sexuality. One of our current projects is organizing alternative bathhouse events at Seadogs Sauna and Spa, a men’s sauna in Halifax.
Alternative bathhouse nights in Halifax were previously organized by another collective called the Shedogs. Shedogs bathhouses were originally for cis women (people who were assigned to the gender category “female” at birth and who experience their gender as “female”), but over the years broadened to include transmen, transwomen, gender queer folks, intersex folks, and others in the gender spectrum who are not cis men (people who were assigned to the gender category “male” at birth and who experience their gender as “male”) and who are generally restricted from accessing Seadogs. The Shedogs have traditionally hosted a public bathhouse during Pride Week that is for cis women and other folks on the gender spectrum who are not cis men.
The Hot Times Collective’s first event was a private, invitation-only bathhouse in May 2012 that was for queer folks of all genders. This event went very well and the Hot Times Collective plans to organize more gender-inclusive events in the near future. The Collective decided to organize a gender-exclusive bathhouse during Pride for the following reasons:
- The majority of Pride events are for gay men and we want to create sexy space for cis women, transwomen, transmen, gender queer folks, intersex folks, and others in the gender spectrum who are not cis men.
- Some people do not feel comfortable in a sexual space with cis men and will not attend a gender inclusive bathhouse.
- The Hot Times Collective is new to organizing bathhouses and so is hesitant to organize the first gender-inclusive public bathhouse in Halifax (that we know of) during Pride week, as typically this is a very busy event.
The Hot Times Collective spent a great deal of time coming to this decision and discussing the complex issues involved. Collective members agreed to a gender-exclusive bathhouse on the condition that the next public bathhouse we organize will be gender-inclusive.
The Hot Times Collective recognizes that gender-exclusive spaces and events are problematic, yet necessary and valuable for some people. Some problems with gender-exclusive spaces are:
- Some transmen, transwomen, gender queer folks, intersex folks, and others on the gender spectrum who are not permitted to attend Seadogs on a regular night or do not feel welcome at Seadogs want to be sexual with cis men, and so a bathhouse that excludes cis men is not actually inclusive of the sexual desires of those folks it claims to include. Some of these folks have cis male partners who cannot attend a gender-exclusive bathhouse.
- Some transmen, transwomen, gender queer folks, intersex folks, and others on the gender spectrum who are not permitted to attend Seadogs on a regular night or do not feel welcome at Seadogs also do not feel welcome at a “women and trans bathhouse” because of transphobia on the part of cis women attendees.
- Cis men are often excluded from spaces under the assumption that cis men perpetuate sexual violence or behave non-consensually. This behavior can, in fact, be perpetuated by folks of all genders.
- Some cis men do not feel comfortable attending Seadogs on a regular night and would be more interested in attending a consent-focused gender-inclusive queer bathhouse.
The Hot Times Collective recognizes that it is impossible to host an event in which everyone feels welcome and included, regardless of how inclusive we try to be. For now we are hosting different types of events for different people, but we will continue to discuss these complex and important issues in consultation with the community we hope to serve.
We welcome you to contribute to the discussion by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, talking with collective members, or attending a meeting. Our meetings are open to anyone who wants to participate and are posted regularly on our website.
We hope to see you at a future Hot Times Collective event. For more details on Heatwave!, the bathhouse we are hosting for Pride, see https://hottimeshfx.wordpress.com/next-event/next-event/pride-bath-house/