Cruising in the Park: Tennessee vs. England


Two recent reports on gay men getting caught while having outdoor sex could not paint more starkly different pictures of attitudes in the rural South vs attitudes in Great Britain:

Johnson City, Tennessee police say a two-week sex sting that led to 40 arrests for indecent behavior is “just the beginning for authorities” in the area:

“‘Part of this took place off the paved trails. There’s a thing out there (at Winged Deer Park) they’ve evidently termed the ‘Man Cave,” [Johnson City Police Chief John] Lowry said. ‘It’s a good way off the paved trail. It’s underbrush that’s grown up and resembles a cave.’ According to investigators, men frequent the Man Cave at all times of day specifically to take part in sexual activities with other men. During their investigation, undercover officers often would strike up a conversation with a man who was approaching the trail leading to the Man Cave. The conversation quickly would turn sexual and, many times, led to proposals for sex, police said.”

Those arrested range in age from 26 to 85. They have also been shamefully hung out to dry (names, addresses, all) by the local media.

In Bristol, UK, four firefighters have been disciplined for interrupting a similar scene:

“The firemen shone their torches from their engine into bushes on the Downs – an area of parkland in Bristol said to be popular with people engaging in late-night outdoor sex known as ‘dogging’ – interrupting the four as they were involved in a gay sex act. One of the group later contacted the AIDS charity, the Terrence Higgins Trust, who advised him to make a formal complaint. That led to the firefighters being suspended while a three month investigation was carried out. Two of them have now been fined up to £1,000; one has been demoted in rank and the other given a written warning. Each of them has also been ordered to attend a two-day equality course. he fines are to be donated to a nominated gay-rights charity. The charity under consideration is the Jamaican Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), as Bristol has a large Jamaican community, although no final decision has been made. The four-man crew have also been transferred to other stations.”

Police in Tennessee said they had received public complaints of inappropriate activity, while in England “Police said they had not received any complaint, but it was an offence to commit a lewd, obscene or disgusting act in a public place, which was capable of outraging public decency.”

It’s surely hot ammo for religious conservatives and their anti-gay propaganda. Unfortunately for them, it’s all too often the Larry Craigs and Bob Allens caught up in the sting.

And it’s not always a gay issue. The photo on top is from a recent article about a show of Kohei Yoshiyuki’s photography. Yoshiyuki documented heterosexuals having sex in public parks in Tokyo in the 70’s and the peeping Toms who gathered to watch them.