We often repeat to our clients and the society as a whole: there is nothing legally or ethically wrong with erotic male massage. Why do we need to do this? Partly, of course, it is due to the long-rooted homophobia, which always sneakily seeks to deny gay men their claim to happiness. But another reason is that gay massage, like any sensual service, can cross over into questionable territory easily. We know what is illegal, but what about ethics? This article on the ethics of gay massage does not seek to lay down a definitive guide. Rather, we are hoping to open up a debate: one you have with yourself.
Age of the masseur
Obviously, sensual massage is an adult service. However, would you think it is ethically questionable to have a massage with someone who is barely past the age of consent? It is a very individual decision to make, and there are no right or wrong answers. However, at Touch of London we try to steer clear of such situations in order to avoid any misunderstandings. We have masseurs who look very young (think masseur Adam!), but are in fact way in their 20s. But if you do decide to deal with a masseur that does not operate through an agency, be careful. There is always a risk that you might run into a minor who poses as an older masseur. If your independently-operating masseur looks rather young, it’s okay to ask to see some proof of age.
Male massage abroad
There are obvious ethical issues with buying sensual gay massage in a country where the cost of living is very low. If you are dealing with a qualified masseur who is working in a legitimate massage parlour / through a legitimate agency, you should be safe. You are actually providing work to the locals and, as usual, a nice tip goes a long way. There is absolutely no reason why you should not have a quality gay massage in a different country. But where there is a wide poverty gap, there is a dark side as well.
For example, in some parts of Asia you can come across heterosexual men with families, who are performing gay sensual massage (and sometimes even providing sexual services) purely out of poverty. Often these masseurs will travel long distances to the big cities and work so they can send money back to their family. How would you feel having a massage by such a masseur? Personally, this is not something I would do. But, of course, we are all free to make up our own minds.
- Read about male masseurs in Mumbai, who are often in this line of work purely out of economic necessity.
Gay massage by straight men
Now let’s lighten up a bit and return back to Europe. It is no secret that there are a lot of straight men in the business of gay massage. Some are upfront about their sexuality, some keep it under wraps. It can be seen both as a commercially helpful ‘bonus’ and as a turn-off for potential clients. What motivates straight men to enter the gay massage sphere? Some are curious about their sexuality and see it as a way to test their own boundaries. To others, their sexuality is just irrelevant to the job they undertake – in their view, they are first and foremost qualified masseurs.
For the great majority, though, the income that can be obtained from male massage is the driving force. This can raise some ethical questions, such as: does it make a difference whether your masseur is gay or straight? If he is what is often called ‘gay for pay’, does it matter whether he’s from an affluent country, or a one where the living standard is low?
Although tastes differ (at Touch of London we are trying to open up more to different tastes – so do tell us what kind of masseurs you like), generally muscular men are the ones who are most in demand in the world of gay massage. This puts a healthy pressure for masseurs to work out and keep in shape – and an unhealthy temptation to use steroids. If they are working for an unethical agency or massage parlour, they could even be encouraged to take steroids. At Touch of London, we do not condone steroid use. We adopt the view that our masseurs’ bodies are their own business. While we do have to reflect the demand in our recruitment practices, we never suggest that our masseurs “buff up” by wrecking their health.
Final word on the ethics of male massage
The sphere of gay massage has its ethical challenges, but that’s also true of life in general. We would not presume to tell you what to think or do, and often I am uncertain myself what is and isn’t ethical. This article is intended to be thought provoking more than anything. Hopefully it gave you a few interesting things to think about. It’s also not exhaustive – would you like us to cover any other ethical dilemmas? Get in touch and we will add to the above list.