Volume 95, Issue 61

Tuesday, January 22, 2002
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Casual sex and the public eye

Editorial Cartoon

Editorial Board 2001-2002

Casual sex and the public eye

It seems books are not the only thing on some peoples' minds at the London Public Library.

The library, along with a number of city parks, public washrooms and even one location on-campus, has been named on a website as a popular location for men to meet for casual sexual relations.

The website relays detailed information about where to meet, what times are best and even how to spot fellow "cruisers." It also allows men the opportunity to post comments and suggestions about other places to meet in the city.

Public sex is inexcusable and, often times, quite dangerous.

There are significant safety issues that need to be considered, especially if these sexual relations are occurring in public places during the day.

Furthermore, the Internet is easily accessible and does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. By publicizing the locations where men meet to have sex and providing homophobes with a direct avenue to express their hatred, this website could actually endanger the safety of its own clientelle.

One must also consider the health risks associated with such behaviour.

Statistics suggest that, since 1996, reported cases of HIV and AIDS have been consistently rising. With the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, it seems quite dangerous to openly seek out and participate in sexual acts with complete strangers.

Finally, the reinforcement of stereotypes needs to be considered.

Public sex perpetuates the myth that gay men are promiscuous. It may also criminalize certain aspects of gay culture and create a potential witchhunt.

The police and community leaders must respond to these actions in a reasonable, pro-active way and not damage relations with London's gay community.

Yet, while public sex is reprehensible, there are perhaps some deeper issues that need to be addressed.

Many people in our society do not feel they can be open about their sexuality, lest they encounter a negative reaction from family, friends or co-workers.

For some of the men who partake in this anonymous public sex, shady sexual relations without the emotional complications often associated with a relationship are preferred until they fully understand their own sexuality.

Some may never fully "come out," but continue to have sex with men in this nameless environment.

Nonetheless, community leaders have a right to be upset about this website and the behaviour it encourages. Anonymous, public sex does little to reinforce the image of gay men as equal and responsible citizens in our community.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001