Wednesday, August 29, 2007

This is a "guy" issue, not a "gay" issue.

Here we go again! Articles like the one today on ABC News called, Secret Signals: How Gay Men Cruise for Sex, are popping up everywhere calling men who have sex with men in bathrooms a "gay" issue.


The article addresses a phenomenon of men hooking up for sex in bathrooms that has been going on since the 1960's.

Public places like men's restrooms, in airports and train stations, truck stops, university libraries and parks, have long been places where gay and bisexual men, particularly those in the closet, congregate in order to meet for anonymous sex.

Over time, people familiar with cruising told ABCNEWS.com, gay men began using a codified system of signals to indicate to others that they were interested in sex. In an effort to curb lewd acts in public — or as some gays argue, in an effort to persecute gay men — undercover police began sting operations in places known for sex soliciting and employed the same codes.

"Tapping of the foot is pretty standard for men who cruise in toilets," said Keith Griffith, owner of Cruisingforsex.com, (WARNING! This is a sexually explicit site before clicking be aware of that), a Web site on which visitors post locations popular with men looking for anonymous sex.

"They will usually go to the stall at the far end of the strip of toilets. They will see each other and usually decide to go someplace else. The vast majority have no interest in being seen. They may be meeting in public locations, but they will be as discreet as possible," Griffith said.
Cruising areas traditionally have been those parts of town "women and children are told to avoid," but through word of mouth, bathrooms at places like Wal-Mart or Home Depot can become cruising locales, he said.

In the book, Tearoom Trade, by Laud Humphreys, he talked about men cruising for sex in public bathrooms identifying the exact "foot tapping" ritual for "gay men" to meet each other.

With many other options available for gay men to meet each other, Gershen Kaufman, a professor emeritus of psychology at Michigan State University and author of the book "Coming Out of Shame," said public cruising is practiced mainly by deeply closeted men. "Cruisers are not sex offenders. They are deeply, deeply closeted. There is a lot of self-hatred and shame and they can't allow themselves to come to terms with their sexuality. There is also the added element of danger and being discovered," he said.

Over the years, like Kaufman points out, there are plenty of other ways gay men can meet and times have changed to being more accepting and open, gay men have reduced bathroom activities.

The men who are arrested in "bag a fag" operations (a name used by Detroit police who raid bathrooms) and come to my practice for therapy are closeted gay men--men who do not identify as gay--and are straight men looking for fast and easy sexual release for reasons described here.

I am not condoning this behavior. I agree it is not okay to have public sex. However, calling it gay rather than just male behavior is prejudice against a whole group of folks who are not anymore or less involved as their straight counterparts.

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