Alex Blaze

Another day, another homophobic sex sting

Filed By Alex Blaze | November 03, 2007 2:42 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Daytona, Florida, homophobic behavior, sex sting, straight culture

From the great state of Florida, we have another sex sting. This one only nabbed one politician among the nine arrested - a Daytona city commissioner (no word yet on if he made decisions we didn't like):

Shallow and Behringer were among nine men charged with lewd and lascivious conduct and exposure of a sexual organ, both misdemeanors, police said.

Of course, if they're exposing themselves out in the open there, it takes an undercover officer to notice it.

But what's even better is the evidence used to arrest these men:

Offenders coughed or sneezed, tapped their feet, sometimes under the stall beside them, or made loud zipper noises to attract attention from others interested in engaging in sexual acts, Hoffman said.

So those of you who live in Daytona had better make sure you zip your zippers quietly! And don't cough or sneeze in the bathroom!

The sheriff, though, takes the cake:

"It's scumbags like this that erode the quality of life that we have here," Chitwood said. "What scares me is that these are people that we trust to be political leaders, these are people that we trust with our children."

They're the ones eroding the quality of life? What about high real estate costs that force people to go without food? What about the lack of health care in this country? Being sick hurts one's quality of life a lot more. What about environmental degradation? And people's family members being shipped off to die in Iraq? And what about people who actually exploit children for sex?

But, no, we can't trust people like this with children. We'll simply let them have children and then not ask questions about what goes on behind closed doors, because that's a private family matter.

A lot of the comments on the article are talking about this being part of the "gay lifestyle". The nabbed politician here was married to a woman with children. Maybe we should start to say that having this sort of sex is part of the straight lifestyle? It seems far more accurate to me, as all of these people identify as straight, not gay.

But still troubling is the automatic link between same-gender lovin' and pedophilia that the sheriff makes here, that many who discuss these cases make. Aren't we past that? These people in the bathrooms aren't after children and don't want to be noticed. All of this children talk is fear-mongering and posturing so that the police can pretend like they're actually doing something useful.

If there's a problem with them being disruptive, send a uniformed officer in there and put up signs saying that the bathroom is regularly monitored. Honestly, that's probably the only effective way to stop straight men from having sex in public bathrooms.

***

I'm just going to mention that the Daytona News-Journal posted the mugshot of each of these men with their names along with the article. Does that bother anyone else? Am I the only one who finds that reminiscent of those old stings of queer bars and gay parties?


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Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | November 3, 2007 3:22 PM

Oh, Alex there you go again with your hippie dippy liberal concern for for the poor, sick and the hungry. Do you know that the only things that are truly important are bashing gays, cutting taxes for the rich, supporting the troops by sending them to fight and unnecessary war and getting Osama bin Laden dead or alive?

I dunno...

I mean I was chatting on Gay.com & some guy wanted me to meet him in the bathroom of the University's library for sex...It is a little creepy. And a public restroom is, well, public Ther should be some standards here...There are lots of other places to have sex.

And I agree: It's always presented as if this were gay when, in fact, it's closeted, pseudo-hetero behavior.

I love str8 people; I find them endlessly fascinating...

I thought I should clarify something I wrote:

And a public restroom is, well, public Ther should be some standards here...There are lots of other places to have sex.

What I mean is: just as there are standards to follow in terms of alcohol consumation, or smoking in public-- the reason being a concern for public safety-- there could/should be standards for public sexual behavior. As anyone whose been to Europe (I've never been myself but I've known several people who have) the standards there are far less Puritanical than in the states. That's not going to change any time soon. A good compromise, I think, is things like nude beaches and resorts and sex/swingers clubs or bath houses. but sex in a public restroom (regardless of the sexual orientation of the participants) is disorderly, at least in our current public climate.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 3, 2007 6:49 PM

Considering that the majority of pedophiles self-identify as heterosexual and that many of the men caught in these reprehensible stings do likewise, it's a clear-cut case of psychological projection on the part of the sheriff and commenters on the article. And yes, you're right, these behaviors clearly are part of the straight lifestyle.

The sad part-- for everyone-- is that we really can't have a healthy discourse about it because public sexual behavior is in its own little closet: we insist it only happens behind closed doors when clearly it doesn't. I mean, heterosexuals are notorious for their public displays of affection-- something queer folk, for fear of physical harm, tend to be more discreet about.

I think it's important, though, to stay focused on the real issue-- which is homophobia and scapegoating of the queer community-- something the gay media needs to be both clear and diligent about in their own coverage of such events.

One thing in my lil' tale of the guy who wanted me to meet him in the men's room: He did not have a pic in his profile because, he said, he was "discreet." What's discreet about having sex in the men's room? I asked, and got no response.

As I said, straight folks-- closeted and otherwise-- fascinate me.


Totally agree, R. I don't think that the sheriff calling these people "scumbags" is doing anything to help develop a discourse on public sex that might actually help people find/create appropriate alternatives. I doubt they're all bad people... maybe we could start to see them as basically good people who are making a decision we don't like? I mean, I'm sure they're good people like everyone else in general, not uniformly serial killers or Republicans or smokers.

Oh Gawd, that puts me in the "hippie" category, doesn't it, Michael?

I suggest that anyone who is openly gay and thinking of moving to Daytona Beach take a good look at the string of comments after the article on the restroom-string story in the Daytona paper.

Look carefully at how quickly the locals go to the gay = pedophile angle, though the men arrested in this sting are presumably married for the most part and publicly identifying as heterosexual. Look at the homophobic venom they spew out in the face of all facts that give the lie to this gay and pedophile analysis.

This ought to give any gay person thinking of moving to Daytona an eye-opening picture of the community. It's a mean place, full of uneducated, intolerant people. Bookstores are almost non-existent, as is a flourishing arts community. Chain restaurants routinely win kudos in all best-of categories in local contests. Try to find anything other than a chain restaurant in which to have a decent meal, and you'll look long and hard.

Most of all, there's simply no sense of community, no shared concern to live a humane life and leave the world a better place--not in this part of Florida.

If you're a gay person or couple thinking of moving here, think again before you make the fateful step my partner and I made over a year ago, uprooting ourselves to take jobs in the area, after having been promised that our openly gay status would not be problematic.

We learned through bitter experience that there are no laws protecting gay folks from discrimination in housing or employment in this area. If your employers wishes to misrepresent your work record, to deny what you have contributed, even to attribute what you have accomplished to someone else in your workplace, he/she is free to do so.

He/she is also free to fire you, solely and simply because you are gay. Even in institutions that have professional codes of conduct requiring that you be evaluated before you are fired, and given the right to respond to the evaluation, don't be surprised if you are fired outright, with no evaluation.

And don't be surprised if you find no defenders when this happens--not among your co-workers, not among the supervisors of your boss (who may or may not include people of faith who claim to stand for social justice).

Based on bitter personal experience, my partner and I would highly encourage you not to consider Daytona Beach as a healthy place to be openly gay. This is a community that does not deserve the contributions of gay people--the creativity, the concern for the arts and history, for culturally and intellectually enriching institutions. Your contributions will be better appreciated elsewhere.

Jerry Jarvis | November 4, 2007 11:59 AM

"exposure of a sexual organ". The last time I went into a restroom I couldn't avoid this.