Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Rub a Dub Dub

My time in New Mexico provided a much needed break to my schedule. I returned to Texas totally prepared to finish up all of my last minute details before heading to Boston.

What shall we discuss, though, in the meantime? “Oh, GayProf,” I hear you saying, “It doesn’t matter what your write. We are just so glad that you have returned to us! It is as prophesied in the holy texts.”

Now you are saying, “Don’t you ever get tired of that joke, GayProf?” Shut up, voices in my head.

“Hey, GayProf, Let’s talk about bathhouses.”


As Mike Prov 1 mentioned in the pervious post’s comments, Albuquerque police raided a local gay bathhouse gym. Though in New Mexico, I didn’t happen to be at that gym during the raid...Or was I?

According to news coverage, more than a dozen police entered the gym wearing bullet-proof vests. Once inside, they found many men in the “play area” engaged in sexual activities.

According to my many videos, the police should have then joined in on those activities. Under this totally realistic scenario, the police would end the evening by thanking the bathhouse patrons for showing them how to be proud gay men through intense man-on-man action. Clearly these police officers did not know the logical order of events.

Instead, they harassed and handcuffed the patrons, forcing them to lay on the floor. Tell me that you want to lay naked on a bathhouse floor. Yuck! Let’s be honest. Cum is like confetti – it’s only fun and exciting at the very instant that it’s tossed. After the party, it’s just an annoying mess. -- What? The Center of Gravitas is not a blog for children.

Allegedly, the gym served liquor at Friday and Saturday evening parties, a violation of state liquor laws. Now, I may not be the smartest man in the world – just in the United States -- but it seems to me that a gym serving flat beer would not really require this type of police mobilization. I kid you not -- I have been to video stores that had happy hours. They dished out beer from a keg as you browsed for your Friday-night flick (No, I am talking about adult video stores – those served a tasteful Chianti). In this instance, of course, the key bit of the story was that the gym served flat beer to dehydrated naked gay men.

GayProf does not partake of the bathhouse scene – trust me, it's just not me. Why, though, in 2006 are we still having an issue with their existence? If some consenting adults want to gather, get naked (except for totally sexy shower-sandals (?!)), and enjoy each other’s, um, company, why do people care? Poverty, unequal access to education, pollution, and disease strike me as much more important issues to think about than a sticky-group of groping men.

Even within the queer community, we hear claims that bathhouses “make us look bad” or “are indecent.” To those queers who suggest such things, I say, “Kiss my ass. Why do you want all queers to ‘fit in’ so badly?” If you imagine yourself as being more sedate than a bathhouse, great! Rules that dictate your sexual behavior, though, are all self-imposed. Let others explore what works for them.

Don’t get me wrong. I think bathhouse owners have clear responsibilities to give out an ample supply of free condoms. One should get a towel, a key, and a dozen rubbers upon entering the door and plunking down your money. Condoms should be in every corner of the joint. Hey, if you want to turn a profit on customers’ lust, you need to pay to keep them safe. That’s the price of doing business. Of course, I also think that the bathhouses should provide free Lamisil as well.

Likewise, bathhouse patrons sure-as-hell better play safe. GayProf needs his queer brothers and sisters alive and well to foment revolution. Getting yourself killed through some thoughtless hook-up ain’t going to help me.

All of this ties into another comment from Anon, who questioned New Mexico’s ranking first (along with New York) for GLBTQ issues and reproductive freedom in the U.S. Three advocacy groups, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Ipas and the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective, reviewed existing laws, pending legislation, and political campaigns. New Mexico ranked highly because of its long history of anti-discrimination laws covering gays and transgender people. The Land of Enchantment declares equality based on sexual orientation a basic human right. New Mexico is just one of a handful of states with neither a law nor constitutional amendment explicitly restricting marriage to heterosexual couples. One of only a few to do so, New Mexico also explicitly requires unisex restrooms in all public buildings.

Anon, though, rightly pointed out that New Mexico’s courts recently sent a group of vicious and depraved gay bashers home with a slap on the wrist. Remember that New Mexico and New York competed with the other United States. That’s not really tough competition to achieve a moral high ground on GLBTQ issues. Did we really think that Texas, South Dakota, Ohio, Mississippi, or Indiana can compete with New Mexico’s “live and let live” mentality? If, by the way, you have only ever lived in New Mexico, the rest of the U.S. really is different.

New Mexico decriminalized private adult consensual homosexual acts in 1975; but, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways of harassing the community. Legal protections mean little if we don’t demand that they are enforced. One of the greatest dangers facing the queer community is complacency, particularly from those in the middle class.

Perhaps the local gym owner did violate state liquor laws. If so, he was dumb as dirt. The state always gets its cut of money on liquor. The government learned from prohibition. Drunks spend money and the state wants a slice. Always.

What should concern us, though, is the way that such raids can be (and have historically been) used to keep the queer community immobilized and panic stricken. Call me ParanoidProf, but it’s not that far a jump to go from saying that a group of gay men can’t have sex in a private club to saying a couple of gay men can’t have sex in a private house.


dykewife said...

turning back the clock...'tisn't always a good thing. until popup video and finding out that barry manilow played piano for bette middler in a bath-house, i'd never heard of them before. i'd heard of the roman ones, and of course, turkish ones. hey, even michael palin availed himself of one when he was going around the world in 80 days.

i wonder what's going to be next. perhaps there'll be another stonewall? so far the only good news i've had this year is that bush can't be re-elected. just be glad you're not governed under the same system as canada. you could be stuck with that putz for a very long time were that the case.

GayProf said...

just be glad you're not governed under the same system as canada. you could be stuck with that putz for a very long time were that the case.

True, DykeWife. On the other hand, though, a parliamentary system like Canada's would have also let us get rid of him log ago as well.

Elizabeth McClung said...

I did note that as soon as I hear GayProf saying he was going to NM, suddenly people in riot gear and guns are raiding bathhouses in New Mexico. "Is this a coincidence?" I ask myself, "Or part of a larger conspiracy to try and keep Gayprof in a state of constant sexual frustration?"

I am keeping my mind open, and will be watching the Boston papers carefully for series of police raids where the gay men detained are questioned: "He may have just moved from Texas and uses the phrase "wonder woman" at least once an hour, have you seen him?"

Seriously, I was appalled, first because the owners continued to maintain that it was a "serious gym" that just decided to serve alcohol (like weight lifting and drinking now go together) - why not say that some patrons were having sex. The second was the complete over the top reaction of the police. Why is a single officer handing out a ticket or threatening to close the bar sufficent? Is there some aspect of gay men who might be drinking that requires massive armed response?

Laura Elizabeth said...

"Call me ParanoidProf, but it’s not that far a jump to go from saying that a group of gay men can’t have sex in a private club to saying a couple of gay men can’t have sex in a private house."

It's not paranoia, nor a hugh leap, just a sad reality.

Christopher said...

I remember Pride Gym from my years in Albuquerque. No, not in that way! Oh, I did get a bj at a Halloween party I attended there, but that's all, I swear! Anyhoo, as I remember it, it wasn't a bathhouse per se...friends of mine actually used it as a serious gym. It was just a gym that also had a REALLY cruisy shower room that had frequent boy piles. They also had parties on a fairly frequent basis, some sex parties, some not (the Halloween party I went to wasn't a sex party, but then again, who hasn't gotten a little action in a dark corner at a party...stop judging me!). My point is, it is neither a traditional gym nor a bathhouse (not that there's anything wrong with that), and I'm really surprised they can use private parties as a way to bust them for liquor license rule-breaking.

Christopher said...

Oh, and I'm assuming you picked up my breakfast burrito from La Hacienda express as I asked. Is it still warm?

GayProf said...

Christopher: Okay, so here is the thing. I bought your burrito and had wrapped for you. The plane ride, though, turned out to be a bit longer than expected. Well, I promise next time I will have more self restraint.

kusala said...

Bulletproof vests??! Lordy! Maybe they heard that lots of shooting goes on there.

And what exactly were the nekkid patrons charged with after being pushed down roughly and manhandled... er, I mean "professionally restrained" after being peeled up off the sticky floor by the coppers?

Events like this call for a good rereading of John Rechy's The Sexual Outlaw. And they also call for serious [re]consideration of expatriating to Spain or the Netherlands or ... whereever.

And man, you reminded me that I forgot to place my order for green chile and assorted roadside-purchased carne seca. Mm... next time.

Glenn said...

I had spicy dreams about you in NM. You were buying me a breakfast burrito with half red/half green. I have to say that my experience growing up on the eastern border of NM (Clovis, to be exact) was not quite the same liberal experience as Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos.

It just shows that the closer you get to Texas, the worse it gets. Have you ever had to eat an Alsupps burrito?

Christopher said...

Curses! You should take the invisible jet next time, Gayprof.

Anonymous said...

"Cum is like confetti..." There should be some kind of award for statements as brilliant.

And why do I keep picturing the police raid from "Best Little Whorehouse?" Only slightly more erotic?

A very serious issue nonetheless, but you handled the serious stuff and still made time to be downright hilarious. Good job.

Kalvin said...

I wholeheartedly agree. There is something in the air more and more. Just go drink with Atari when you get to Boston and figure it out for all of us, cuz he's probably smart man #2 in the USA.

Seeker Onos said...

Clovis NM... now that (pardon me for saying so) is one desolate place.

(I was stationed at the USAF base there in the early 90's)... and the only fun was about a 100-mile drive to Lubbock or Amarillo. Of course, not being at all familiar with Albuqueque or Taos or S.Fe, I contented myself with the brain-rot induced by F-111 fumes during the week, and motored on out to Texas on the weekends.

And for the record, Alsup's burritos are utterly atrocious.

Dorian said...

There's been a follow-up article:

"The warrant recounts how officers went to the gym June 17, paid the $15 admission, then stripped down to underwear and towels to blend into the bathhouse-like atmosphere. Officers said they were served beer, then went into a detailed account of the sexual activities they observed.

The warrant also states officers' fears that "sending us into this place again puts us or any other undercover officer in danger of sexual assault and/or great bodily harm and/or injury." The officers did not say that they were assaulted or even approached while undercover, however.

So, the big butch men with guns were afraid of gay men, and that's why the riot gear was justified? Riiiight...