I felt the bromance as a trans guy at an ‘erotic edging party’

A man unzips his jeans

Attending his first “erotic edging party” – and becoming, seemingly, the first trans man to join its “brotherhood” – was an eye-opening experience, Jackson King writes.

I recently went to Bator Bro at the Bunker Bar – a den of homosexual activity in the heart of London. A stone’s throw from the ‘silicon roundabout’ in Old Street, the venue hosts a range of gay cruising events most days (and nights) of the week. And on the fourth sunday of every month there’s a Bator Bro takeover for “anyone who loves the art of self pleasure”.

It’s an event run by the Bromance Club, a self-described “platform for freaks, geeks and brotherhood”, with the mission of empowering queer men to “build confidence, sexual mastery, and lasting connections”. In other words, self-love is the philosophy – and in more ways than one.

Given the emphasis on companionship and closeness, it makes sense that the group hails from the lonely days of the pandemic: it’s the brainchild of Nick Woof, a creative entrepreneur in London who began hosting weekly orgies over Zoom (a wonderful example of gay sluts in STEM, by the way). By April 2021, Bromance Club was born and Woof has since become known as the “cum whisperer”. With the pandemic restrictions lifted, the group now gather in person for Bator Bro.

I learned of the event and was invited to attend by a friend and f**kbuddy – but I had some reservations about going to something so centred on penis pleasure. While I’d been assured personally by Woof that I was welcome, how would others respond to a trans guy in the space? And as someone on the years-long waiting list for phalloplasty, would it be a dysphoria-inducing experience?

A person pumping clear liquid from a bottle into their hand
The event is dedicated to masturbation. (Getty)

Admittedly I was a little concerned by the “bro” label too – it’s a word that makes me think of privately-educated rugby lads trying to add a sprinkle of ‘street’ to their lexicon. It’s also a cringey part of white transmasculine vocabulary, in which people who have never heard of Huey P Newton make Black Panther Party-esque appeals to trans brotherhood.

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But most importantly, the language of “bros” and “bromance” tend to sit squarely in the sphere of heterosexuality, not queerness. Thankfully my fears of a laddish, hypermasculine circle jerk were unfounded and aunty Jackson had a good ole time! 

When I arrived the bar was busy – thronged by men in their 20s to 40s – in various states of undress, gathering in small groups and making friendly conversation. Several of them were edging and playing with each other as they did so. It was all very easy and relaxed.

After a quick catch-up and frisson in a private cubicle with my friend, I worked up the courage to enter the spirit of bromance and get my piece out with the rest of the boys. The video room seemed like the right place. Earlier it had been at capacity: men seated wall to wall, thighs touching, mouths sighing and self-pleasuring to jerk vids. But it was a little quieter now – a soft landing for this newbie “bator” on their debut flight. 

I’ll leave some things to the imagination but suffice to say I had a very enjoyable encounter with a curious and courteous bear. I had noticed him noticing me and said something to the tune of “someone’s got to be the first trans guy”. The rest was sexy and seamless. 

I don’t like to use the phrase ‘trans joy’ – it feels twee, forced and a bit PG to me – but if I had to describe what ‘trans joy’ is to me, my video room reveal and the subsequent rendezvous would be it: connection, sensuality and experiencing your body as a gift not a burden.

My admirer, the bear “bro”, held me warmly as we let the waves wash over us. A wonderful reminder that despite the gender-critical views espoused by some gay cis men, they do not tell the full story.

Once the event was over a good number of us gathered for drinks at another venue. There was the strong sense of people returning month after month and building on the intimacy shared in the darkrooms of The Bunker, or online during the darker days of the pandemic. To that end Woof has succeeded in creating not just a cruising event but something approaching erotic community. A refreshing salve to queer loneliness and marginalisation… I guess you could say this transf*g felt the bromance.