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12/12/2007

Sorry, Pete: Not all of us are as bathhouse-focused as you seem to be

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 1-132Peter LaBarbera has penned a new piece in which he condemns a Washington D.C. establishment called The Crew Club for being "a 24/7 homosexual bathhouse where men go for anonymous sodomistic encounters with other men."  And while his diligent research on the club certainly surprised us in various ways, it is this chunk of text that really annoys us:

An international homosexual ”cruising for sex” website describes Crew Club as: “Bathhouse with limited facilities. Open 24 hours.” The comments from the cruising site make clear that men go to the Crew Club to find sex with other men. (I state this obvious point because homosexual activists like Rick Garcia of Equality Illinois sometimes pretend to the media not to know what goes on at these perversion centers.)

So why do we find this section so annoying?  Well, because Pete makes it sound as if gay bathhouses or gay sex clubs are an everyday part of queer life.  He makes it sound as if activists like Rick Garcia could not possibly be unaware of what goes on in such a place.  And he makes it sound as if all of us have surfed an "international homosexual 'cruising for sex' website" to school ourselves on places where one can pay to get off with fellow patrons.  The fact, however, is that we have not!

This writer has never once in his years as either a closeted or openly gay man stepped foot in any sort of club like the one Peter describes in his meticulously assembled article.  Also, despite dedicating much time to the gay community and to the political landscape of queer D.C., I've never once heard of the Crew Club.  I have never spent even a minute online researching the locations and activities of such places, and honestly could not tell you the first thing that goes on there.  Sure, I've heard that places where consenting adults can go to have sex exist.  And yes, I've seen this sort of thing in movies and on shows.  But I've also watched many HBO documentaries on the exclusively heterosexual brothel known as The Bunny Ranch.  But just like that sort of club is not a regular part of the vast majority of heterosexual lives, bathhouses and sex clubs are not parts of most gays' routines!   Pete's M.O. is to make it sound as if gay folks are all part of a sex-crazed, drug-addicted, society-wrecking monolith, the likes of which wouldn't know morality from a hole in the ground.  It's a simple outlook that surely gets him some attention amongst the myopic fish with whom he likes to swim.  However, it's wholly untrue.

Now, this is not even to pass judgment on gays who might go to certain places that others find unsavory.  People are in charge of their own lives and free to make their own decisions.  This writer lives a block from Scores in NYC and has been to more heterosexual bachelor parties than some of my gay friends might believe.  I've seen many straight men make decisions that I would never myself make; but i don't live in their skin and would never tell them how to operate their lives (as long as it's safe and legal).  So again -- this is not to look down on someone who tries to meet someone in a darkened bathhouse rather than a darkened bar (with safety and legality again the desired priority).  It is, however, to say that regardless of one's own choices and outlooks in life, it's safe to say that sex clubs, strip clubs, legal brothels, "massage parlors," escort services, etc. are all fringe elements of any community, not defining aspects of that particular community's culture!

The ‘Gay’ Press: Where ‘AIDS Prevention’ and Promiscuity Promotion Co-Exist [Americans For Truth]

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