Ryan Shea's picture

Does Bringing Back Gay Bathhouses Help Anyone?

Minneapolis, Minnesota has been in the news as of late for trying to reverse the ban of gay bathhouses in their city. 

A reader on that particular page made a very frank and honest comment on if there is a need to bring them back, and who they will exactly benefit.  Here's what they wrote:

Are there hetero bathhouses in the area? Look, any moral or ethical rubric aside, why can't we just treat everyone the same?

People can form the consensual, age-appropriate sexual relationships they want. This doesn't serve public safety and public health, gay, straight, or otherwise.

In prior days, such places ended up spreadling life-threatening STD's. That did disproportionately affect gay people more in '70s and '80s. One of the many reasons for removing laws against homosexuality and marriage restrictions was to allow gays to cultivate normative, healthy, long-term relationships and not have to seek out clandestine booze and drug-fueled parties because people couldn't be public about their relationship.

All of my gay friends seem pretty set on getting rid of these stereotypes and images, or at least not having them define the LGBT community. Religion and all that aside, it demonstrated as a matter of both mental health and physical health that people are healthier if sex is not separated from love, affection, commitment.

What problem does such an establishment supposedly solve? What does it do to advance society and the health and well-being of gays or anyone else?

What are your thoughts on this, should batthouses be brought back into the mainstream gay world?

Comments

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"What does it do to advance society and the health and well-being of gays or anyone else?"

Answer: Every bath house I've ever seen provides condoms and has times when a local agency offers free HIV testing. What is more, they provide a relatively-safe place where one is very unlikely to get robbed (unless you leave your wallet out in the open) or assaulted as too-often happens when people meet at bars or through hook-up apps. Finally, as businesses, they do seem to make money. 

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The referenced letter starts with the affirmation that everyone should be treated equally but later makes a case against gay bathhouses. It is not consistent. It makes moral judgements about bathhouses and gay sex. If people want to have sex in a bathhouse, let them. Don't make or support laws design to single out gay people. That is the very definition of discrimination.

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Here in Sacramento, we have a bath house called Sac Buddies. We are 1.5 hours from Steve's Place in Reno, and 1.5 hours from the Steamworks in Berkeley. All three are very popular, packed on most nights & weekends. For those who simply desire to have sex, anonymously, whether they are married, single, straight or gay, find such venues provide the perfect outlet. Strip clubs, designed for straight men, are all over... both types of clubs are for adults only, behind closed doors, meeting the needs of their patrons. Live & let live... 

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The guy who sponsored this legislation passed on from AIDS, and was a bit of a pompous asshole. It would be nice to have a bathhouse in Minneapolis, especially if it had a hot tub and steam room like Steamworks in Chicago. A decent health spa where you can be comfortable naked and have places to play would be a huge success here. I think we've grown up considerably since the early 1980s, and will handle having a baths with a more mature attitude.  It would be nice to have a place like that to relax, too.

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