Friday, March 1, 2024
Opinion

Forget drag shows, it’s all about the gay bathhouses in Animal Crossing

I have to admit, it’s been a long time since I’ve played Animal Crossing. Every time I try to go back, my islanders greet me and give me all the serotonin I need that makes me want to stay and play. But I never do. However, it’s not an update this time that may make me stay on my island. No, I think it’s the trend of creating a gay bathhouse in Animal Crossing that’ll get me this time.

As someone who browses the r/gaymers subreddit quite often, I’ve noticed that lately, people are becoming more and more creative when it comes to their Animal Crossing creations. Sometimes it’s just the island, but others have invested in making a phenomenal masterpiece inside their very homes. For some this can be an art gallery, a music room, and for some it can be gay bathouses.

The latest gay bathhouse on Animal Crossing comes from u/TA-stupidquestion over on Reddit, and what a bathhouse it is! It’s got a hot, heady atmosphere, bamboo everywhere, peaches – of both kinds – and lockers for you to put your clothes. There’s also a bath, of course. Without it, that’d kind of defeat the whole point wouldn’t it?

But TA-stupidquestion isn’t the first user to adapt their room into a gay bathhouse. Others have used their island to create a gay bathhouse too, some even going as far to include gay porn stars (NSFW) images to really set the mood.

What is it about gay bathhouses that have inspired people to include them? For me, it’s the aesthetic of the bathhouse that each queer player has created, the dark lighting, the near-smoky atmosphere that’s conveyed through the different baths included in each unique room… It also doesn’t help that bathhouses have either been banned, or out of business due to lockdown and the pandemic. There’s a clientele that does drift to that sort of environment.

But what I really find admirable is that queer players have taken this space, their very own home, and have adapted it to create a location where they can add queerness into a world that doesn’t actively deny it, but doesn’t try to make a positive example either. After all, Nintendo has denied CJ and Flick are lovers, and the love that Animal Crossing so often tries to sell has been straight from the very beginning. With queer players making their own world a safe place, especially an anonymous setting with a wild history like a bathhouse, we’re reclaiming our identity as queer individuals. And that’s thrilling.

Of course, some will argue that this game is suited for children – why on earth would anyone want to include an environment that’s commonly used for gay sex? At least with drag shows, it’s just about fashion, right? Firstly, Animal Crossing islands are private unless you mess around with the settings so, as far as we’re concerned, as long as you’re being safe and inviting people that you know onto your island then it’s fair game. Secondly, Animal Crossing has been used as a way for couples to have sex since the very start of the pandemic in 2020. The game isn’t intended to be played this way, but it hasn’t stopped people.

Gay bathhouses are a creative, clever way for queer players to put part of their history – one that is so often vilified – into their very homes – an intimate, safe space that can be shared amongst the closest of friends. To me, that’s nothing short of amazing.

Aimee Hart

[She/They] Aimee Hart is Editor-in-Chief of Gayming Magazine. She specializes in queer fandom, video games and tabletop, having started her career writing for numerous websites like The Verge, Polygon, Input Magazine and more. Her goal now is to boost LGBTQ+ voices in the video games industry.