chapter  8
24 Pages

Transgressive assemblages

An ethnography of gay group sex
ByDave Holmes, Patrick O’Byrne, Stuart J. Murray, Chad Hammond, Mathieu Mercier

This chapter presents the results of ethnographic (excluding observation) fieldwork involving MSM who engage in group sex, which define as any planned or unplanned event with three or more men who engage in sexual activities together. Group sex is not new; it has been both depicted in Paleolithic cave art and reported in ancient Roman and Egyptian texts. Sexual transgression strikes 'at the very heart of rational modernity, involving as it does a 'transgressive desire' to go 'beyond' the order, to profane the sacred, to break prevailing boundaries in 'regressive' and 'progressive' turns', reminding us of social anxieties concerning 'dirt, bodily fluids, and the unconstrained contact between bodies'. The first theme related to the participants' descriptions of the assemblages they formed with other people and objects through various connections and variable types of connections. One assemblage the participants discussed related to unconventional partnerships, in which more than two persons formed the central relationship assemblage.