Glory holes in B.C.’s COVID-19 sex guide make national headlines

WatchBC's COVID-19 sex guide gets national attention over "glory hole" recommendation. Tess van Straaten reports.

If you’re single, summer lovin’ during a pandemic can be tricky but B.C. now has a COVID-19 sex guide.

It’s making headlines across the country and the term “glory hole” was trending on Twitter — fodder for countless jokes — after the B.C. Centre for Disease Control recommended using walls or barriers, and  glory holes, in particular.

“Even though this issue of glory holes was just a small part of what we’re talking about, I think it did us a favour in that it’s bringing attention to what we think is a very important resource,” says Dr. Troy Grennan of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC).

The COVID-19 and Sex guide offers practical advice like staying home if you’re sick, avoiding kissing, wearing masks, limiting face-to-face contact and having just one or a small number of partners.

It also advises virtual sex and masturbation are the safest options when it comes to reducing your chance of COVID-19 exposure.

Much of it was adapted from New York City Health Department guidelines after experts realized the pandemic wasn’t stopping people from having sex — and they say it shouldn’t if people are healthy and taking precautions.

“We just need to recognize our sexuality is part of being human and our human experience and for some people that’s how they’re going to manage stress,” says Jennifer Gibson of the Island Sexual Health Society.

“We don’t want people to be making decisions based on shame or embarrassment because we know when people make decisions based on that their risks increase.”

While glory hole jokes might have started the conversation, sex educators say the fact that we’re all talking about it will go a long way to reducing stigma.

“If we can get away from this idea of fear and shame and we can just talk about things honestly and through humour, that’s what’s going to keep us healthy and well,” Gibson says.

“To normalize it and kind of reduce some of the stigma that exists and really just make it part of the on-going conversation, I think all of that is all very positive,” Dr. Grennan adds.

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