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-   -   Mandating Safe Sex At Gay Bathhouses? (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=881697)

Jim B. 09-08-2019 03:59 PM

Mandating Safe Sex At Gay Bathhouses?
 
I don't have a cite. But shortly after the age of AIDS, they reportedly started closing down the gay bathhouses. (I remember in New York they closed down Plato's Retreat, a hetero sex club to avoid the charge of discrimination [yeah right]. I digress.)

Anyway this is just another example of the mommy state run awry IMHO. Gay people won't stop having sex if you do that. They'll just find different places to do. Phew, really.

Anyway I do actually have a better idea for those who still think it's a good idea. Why not leave the bathhouses open. But mandate safe sex practices there. Those who don't will be politely asked to leave.

What do you all think?

:):):):)

susan 09-08-2019 04:13 PM

Why this thread now?

alphaboi867 09-08-2019 04:36 PM

Gay bathhouses do have free condoms (& lube), signs encouraging safer sex, and usually partner with a clinic to offer HIV testing on a regular basis. Actually mandating condom use wouldn't be practical. The parties involved are consenting adults and unlikely to report themselves to management, while there are public "play areas" most sex (especially anal) happens in private cubicle like rooms. Even in the public areas you'd need to have staff making invasive "spot checks".

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Kent Clark 09-08-2019 05:17 PM

You don't really have a good grasp of what AIDS was in the early 1980s. For one thing, it was often called "gay cancer." More importantly, no one knew how it spread, except that it hit the gay community really hard, and many members of the gay community congregated at bathhouses. If you want a 21st Century comparison, think about Legionnaires Disease. Why was it disproportionately hitting hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels? Eventually, somebody finally determined it was spread by contaminated air conditioning units. Is it nanny statism to close a hotel when an outbreak of disease is traced to it? Because public health officials STILL do that.

Also, in the 1980s, bathhouses (and hetero sex clubs, for that matter) were not exactly embracing the idea that their patrons were passing around sexually transmitted diseases (not just HIV) and fought inspections and regulations at every step.

As for those "who think it's still a good idea," I don't know anyone in my straight, senior citizen, white bread subculture who thinks closing down gay hangouts is preferable to any group of non-monogamous people practicing safe sex.

Qadgop the Mercotan 09-08-2019 05:47 PM

Which safe sex practices do you mandate? These days Truvada maintenance therapy for those who are not infected is probably far far safer for HIV prevention than condoms. And how do you check for that?

And then you'd best mandate safe sex practices for heterosexuals too, no?

l0k1 09-08-2019 06:40 PM

I don't get why you want to debate something on only vaguely remember that happened 35 to 40 years ago at the start of a mysterious new epidemic. Don't you think it's just as likely that bath houses had to close due to lack of insurance? That straight sex clubs also could spread HIV? That enough customers had died that it was no longer a viable business model?

susan 09-08-2019 07:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by l0k1 (Post 21848575)
Don't you think it's just as likely that bath houses had to close due to lack of insurance? That straight sex clubs also could spread HIV?

That's not what happened.
Quote:

That enough customers had died that it was no longer a viable business model?
That's also not what happened.

Quote:

In California the "Consenting Adult Sex Bill", passed in January 1976, made gay bathhouses and the sex that took place within them legal for the first time. During the 1970s, the two most popular gay bathhouses in San Francisco, both located in the SOMA neighborhood.... In 1978 a group of police officers raided the Liberty Baths in the Polk Gulch neighborhood of San Francisco and arrested three patrons for "lewd conduct in a public place", but the District Attorney's office soon dropped the charges against them.[5] In 1984, however, fear of AIDS caused the San Francisco Health department, with the support of some gay activists such as Randy Shilts, and against the opposition of other gay activists, to ask the courts to close gay bathhouses in the city. The court, under Judge Roy Wonder, instead issued a court order that limited sexual practices and disallowed renting of private rooms in bathhouses, so that sexual activity could be monitored, as a public health measure. Some of the bathhouses tried to live within the strict rules of this court order, but many of them felt they could not easily do business under the new rules and closed. Eventually, the few remaining actual bathhouses succumbed to either economic pressures or the continuing legal pressures of the city and finally closed. Several sex clubs, which were not officially bathhouses, continued to operate indefinitely and operate to this day, though following strict rules under the court order and city regulations. Bathhouses themselves, however, operate just outside the city, thus outside of their laws, such as in Berkeley and San Jose.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay_bathhouse

kirkrapine 09-08-2019 11:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kent Clark (Post 21848470)
You don't really have a good grasp of what AIDS was in the early 1980s. For one thing, it was often called "gay cancer." More importantly, no one knew how it spread, except that it hit the gay community really hard, and many members of the gay community congregated at bathhouses.

One thing I recall: In the early '70s, the early days of the Gay Lib movement, many gay men, especially in the big cities, went totally wild -- having 3 or 4 sex partners a day*, taking drugs so they could dance all night, getting hardly any sleep. So, one early theory (still adhered to by a minority, believe it or not) was that AIDS was not an infectious disease, but simply a matter of their wearing out their immune systems through that extreme lifestyle. A theory that was discredited when the disease spread to people who had never practiced such a lifestyle, and, later, by scientific research.

Old joke:

What's the worst thing about AIDS (apart from the obvious)?

Trying to convince your mother that you're Haitian!

* Moral: Men are sex pigs. Gay or straight, men are sex pigs. If I could have sex with three or four women a day, I would, consequences be damned.

Kobal2 09-09-2019 12:34 AM

Who enforces the rule, and how ?

SciFiSam 09-09-2019 01:23 AM

They still exist in London which makes me think they exist elsewhere. [url=https://chariots.co.uk/]Chariots is one of the main ones. They offer "testing services" which makes it highly likely that they also offer free condoms. Not sure what else they could do to police whether someone's put a condom on or not.

PatrickLondon 09-09-2019 01:38 AM

Saunas (bath houses) and sex clubs exist in most major European cities, and usually provide free condoms. I'm not sure many have the touring testing services available in London, but it's not difficult to find out where the sexual health services are.

kayaker 09-09-2019 07:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kobal2 (Post 21849011)
Who enforces the rule, and how ?

Inspector #47

Jackmannii 09-09-2019 07:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jim B. (Post 21848345)
Anyway this is just another example of the mommy state run awry IMHO.

To understand the controversy over the bathhouse shutdowns, read Randy Shilts' "And The Band Played On".

"Shilts* (called) out the gay community in its inaction to prevent the disease...There was also the matter of the bathhouses, which Shilts advocated to shut down, despite harsh resistance against such an action in the gay community. Shilts noted that what little that was achieved in the bathhouses was small signs in corners warning about AIDS and condoms that were provided to those who asked. Nobody did. Shilts was harshly critiqued for his stance at the time."

https://sites.psu.edu/245spring2015/...and-played-on/

There was nothing "mommy state" about a common-sense public health measure to restrict the rapid spread of a (then) fatal disease for which there was nothing but supportive treatment, and the etiology/epidemiology of which was poorly understood.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan
These days Truvada maintenance therapy for those who are not infected is probably far far safer for HIV prevention than condoms.

I think Qadgop meant "far more effective".

*who later died of complications of AIDS.

Saintly Loser 09-10-2019 03:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jim B. (Post 21848345)
I don't have a cite. But shortly after the age of AIDS, they reportedly started closing down the gay bathhouses. (I remember in New York they closed down Plato's Retreat, a hetero sex club to avoid the charge of discrimination [yeah right]. I digress.)

Anyway this is just another example of the mommy state run awry IMHO. Gay people won't stop having sex if you do that. They'll just find different places to do. Phew, really.

Anyway I do actually have a better idea for those who still think it's a good idea. Why not leave the bathhouses open. But mandate safe sex practices there. Those who don't will be politely asked to leave.

What do you all think?

I actually remember the night when all the back-room places in New York City closed. It was literally one night. I was meeting some friends at midnight at a bar and we were going to go to the Anvil. We walked over, and it was closed. Locked, lights out, sign ripped from the wall.

A few blocks away, the same was true of the Mineshaft. And other places that permitted on-premises sex.

It was easy enough for the City to closed these joints. None of them were operating legally. None of them had liquor licences. All of them stayed open way past closing time (the Anvil used to stay open until noon). All of them were cheating on taxes. There were a lot of rumors about the ownership of the clubs. The bribery going on must have been enormous.

Was this the "mommy state" running amok? I don't think so. By this time (1985) it was known that HIV was transmitted sexually. While organizations like GMHC had been trying to encourage safer sex practices in the clubs, it wasn't working. Unsafe sex was happening on a huge scale all up and down West Street. I think New York City did the right thing. There was a serious public health crisis happening, and that's exactly what government is for. I see it as akin to mandating vaccination for children entering school.

kirkrapine 09-11-2019 12:20 AM

Of course, to effectually mandate safe sex in gay bathhouses would require some sort of inspector, popping his head into the cubicles, and carrying a cattle prod.

kirkrapine 09-11-2019 12:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Saintly Loser (Post 21852247)
There were a lot of rumors about the ownership of the clubs.

IIRC, the Stonewall bar was Mob-controlled, and that was actually the main reason it was raided.

PatrickLondon 09-11-2019 03:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kirkrapine (Post 21853183)
Of course, to effectually mandate safe sex in gay bathhouses would require some sort of inspector, popping his head into the cubicles, and carrying a cattle prod.

Some people would pay extra for that.

Saintly Loser 09-11-2019 06:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kirkrapine (Post 21853184)
IIRC, the Stonewall bar was Mob-controlled, and that was actually the main reason it was raided.

I suspect all the gay bars in the Village were mob-controlled back then, and getting behind in its payoff schedule was the actual reason it was raided.

That said, that was a different situation than that of the back-room places in the 80s. For one thing, the Stonewall actually was a bar, with a liquor license. It operated within the legal closing hours. What it was doing that was illegal was allowing gay men to congregate there and wear drag, which was illegal (then). For another, I don't believe it was an on-premises sex club.

A place like the Anvil in the 80s did not have a liquor license, although it certainly sold huge quantities of beer and booze. It was not a bar. It did not operate within legal closing hours. Drugs were consumed (and sold) there on a massive scale. Sex took place more or less openly (upstairs was dancing and drag shows, downstairs was sex). It called itself a private club, but in practice, anyone could enter. Was it mob-controlled? I don't know, but that was certainly the rumor. Same with the Mineshaft, which was purely a sex club that sold liquor (three stories of some very weird sex -- I'm amazed that it was allowed to exist as long as it did, and I'm certain that huge payoffs were involved).

So it was very, very easy for the City of New York to close those places. They were in flagrant violation of just about every law you could think of. For instance, in hindsight, I'm horrified by their total non-compliance with the fire code. If there had ever been a fire, the death toll would have been huge.

And, back to the subject of this thread, I think it was for the best that the City shut these places down.

panache45 09-11-2019 06:51 PM

I was in the Mineshaft several times, back in the late 70s-early 80s. Everything you have said about it was true, and I'm still amazed that it was allowed to operate as long as it did, until 1985. I wonder how many of its patrons are still alive.

kirkrapine 09-11-2019 07:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by panache45 (Post 21855057)
I was in the Mineshaft several times, back in the late 70s-early 80s.

Sure it wasn't the other way around? ;)


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