Hillsborough Sex Sting, Sheriff Publicizing It, and Police STILL Targeting Gay Men
Years ago, gay men couldn’t meet one another in public. It simply was not done. They couldn’t meet in supermarkets, in restaurants, churches, or anywhere out in the heteronormative world. This is why there were gay bars and gay venues in certain places, usually hidden carefully. However, not all gay men (almost always closeted) had access to gay bars and gay venues. So they lurked and cruised one another in state parks, public restrooms, and adult bookstores…just to name a few.
This part of gay culture is also important to remember, and it wasn’t always about sex. Sometimes gay men made friends…lasting friends…while cruising these places. And more often than not if they did cruise a state park or a public restroom they went home alone. It was also dangerous in many ways. And one of the most dangerous aspects was how the police treated gay men. The police would lure gay men, entrap them, and then they would arrest them just for being gay. There didn’t have to be an actual sex act involved. All they needed was the implication. And the police had all the power and they used it as much and as often as they could.
Unfortunately, even though so much has changed, the same kind of thing is still happening today with gay men and the police.
In Hillsborough County, Florida, there was a sting where 11 men were arrested for what’s being referred to as vile behavior. Go figure…vile behavior. But the only crimes committed were misdemeanors that don’t involve actual sex crimes. It’s reminiscent of what the police have been doing to gay men for years, and for the first time, it’s being questioned out in the open.
Each of them, according to arrest reports, had gone to a local park and struck up a conversation with another man on a trail or in a parking lot. Eventually, deputies alleged, both men would agree to have sex. One man turned out to be an undercover deputy. The other went to jail.
Here’s more. That’s not vile behavior. Many people believe they are criminalizing gay sex…or even the suggestion of gay sex. And it dates back to the days when being gay was still illegal.
I’ve known gay men who’ve experienced this kind of treatment and it’s much worse than articles like this would lead you to believe. The police shame, humiliate and are downright cruel to any gay men they find in situations like this. And once again, they have all the power, especially with gay men in the closet.
This topic could actually be a book.