Since ancient times, the mirror has held fascination. It's a gleaming gateway to another world, one that seems so very much like this one, but ... well, not.
And when it comes to sex, mirrors reflect a number of things. At the most basic level, the mirror is where we learn how we look, and it's where we practice looking like ourselves, only sexier. It's a rare gay guy who hasn't posed in front of the looking glass, trying out sultry facial expressions, flexing his muscles, rearranging his basket. The mirror's where we check for signs of a belly, whether we need a haircut, how that new shirt looks with those nicely worn jeans. It is, in fact, the testing ground for sex appeal. But for some of us, the mirror is more. It's a shiny sex toy, a window on our own lust.
Sometimes it can be a glittering sex partner. One devoted wanker says, "I like to set aside a nice, long time to masturbate. I set everything up - lube, poppers, paper towels - in front of my full-length mirror. Then I sit down and watch myself getting off, look at my hand working my erection, my face as I get close. It may sound narcissistic, but I don't care. I think it's just so much fun."
More commonly, perhaps, Mr. Mirror's a guest at parties of two or more. The stereotypical whorehouse bedroom has mirrors on the ceiling, and you know you've met someone serious about sex when you discover his bed is surrounded by mirrors. The reflection adds another dimension, a nonexistent spectator that creates erotic tension between what the fucking looks like out there and what it feels like in here.
It also, conveniently, enables a guy to see what his partner looks like full-length without having to hop out of bed. For many couples, watching themselves in a mirror is like starring in their own porn flick. Some prefer the mirror across the room, providing an overall look at the action, while others position the mirror nearby, providing close-up views; it's an easy way a bottom can actually watch his ass getting fucked.
Available everywhere, innocent-seeming, mirrors are democratic sex toys for all, a way to indulge whatever we are, be it secret voyeur or horny showoff. Or both. Not everyone is enthusiastic, though: one man complains, "I just find mirrors distracting. I end up thinking about what a hairy butt I've got."
Mirrors can add a special dimension to kink scenes, too. One nasty top has his bottom watch himself in a mirror, the better to bear witness to his own bondage, humiliation, and pain. "It just makes the drama more intense for us both," says the handsome sadist. And it can be a clothing fetishist's best friend; it may feel great to dress up in a leather harness or a taffeta ball gown, but actually seeing oneself in the mirror, horny and transformed, is the bright-red cherry on the yummy sundae of perversion.
In a sense, of course, gay sex always involves mirrors in a way het sex doesn't; we're lusting after someone who is in some ways a reflection of ourselves - another man, another penis, like ourselves, but different. This interplay between sameness and otherness adds a special dimension to queer sex, which is, like a mirror, a joining between two worlds.
Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines
Sex Talk: Other Subjects