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Monday, September 3, 2007

What If It Was Me That Got Arrested in That Airport Toilet?

posted by on September 3 at 13:34 PM

Or Michaelangelo Signorille? Or Armistead Maupin?

A gay blogger annoyed by the gay community’s delight in Sen. Larry Craig’s fall wonders how we’d all feel if it had been a ‘mo in good standing that got busted in that bathroom.

Am I alone in thinking that this is total and complete BULLSHIT that there are officers (paid with tax dollars let’s not forget) who have NO other purpose than to sit in a fucking public restroom trolling for unsuspecting cruisers to bust? Does nobody else think that its a waste of time and money? Who the fuck cares if someone (ie a gay man) wants to cruise a restroom? Isn’t there a rapist or a child molester or a thief or a murderer out there to catch? This kind of “sting operation” is just a witch hunt. We live in a country who marginalizes and denies an entire population equal rights, makes them feel like less-than-human-second-class-citizens and then criticizes and damns them when they (understandably) develop an anonymous, underground, secret way of connecting with one another. And what do we do when someone that we don’t like is busted for the same thing that many (myself included, I grew up in a small redneck town in Wyoming…my options for meeting men were very limited, but I digress) of us have done in our time? We join the hysterical ranks of finger pointers and tell them “that they had it coming.”

[Had] it been Dan Savage or Michaelangelo Signorille or fucking Armistead Maupin for that matter who had been caught in this situation the whole Gay community would be seething with rage and indignation!

Sure, I think it’s bullshit that there are officers cruising toilets—that’s not real police work. But I also think cruising toilets is gross, and that if there are complaints about it from the general public—if inept gay cruisers are being so obvious that it unnerves the straight shitters—then their ineptitude is to blame when the police step in. I also think it’s bullshit that professional homophobes like Craig and Haggard are out there cruising toilets and seeing male escorts, respectively, and when men like Craig and Haggard are destroyed by the very homophobia they’ve promoted, well, I’m sorry but that’s hilarious.

But say it had been me—or Signorille or Maupin. I’ve been to that airport, and I’ve used those bathrooms, and I have a weakness for blue-eyed blonds. I’m generally too germ-o-phobic to sit down in an airport toilet, and I avoid touching anything with my hands when I do have to use one. But maybe there’s a cop that’s so hot that a little accidental eye contact could tempt me into a stall, where I would play the foot-tapping game, slide my hand along the bottom of the stall divider (eew!), and get arrested for my efforts. What then? Rage? Indignation?


The arrest of someone like me in an airport toilet—an openly gay person in a not-strictly-monogamous same-sex relationship, a gay writer that has written scores of pro-sex, pro-kink, pro-risk-taking columns—would be a good occasion to discuss the idiocy of sending police officers into airport restrooms. (It would also be a better example of entrapment, as the bait—that super-hot officer—would have tempted me into committing a crime I might not have committed but for the bait, which is a classic entrapment scenario.) But in this instance Craig’s hypocrisy is a bigger story than the misapplication of scarce police resources at the Minneapolis airport, and so that’s what we were talking about—or were, as the story is over.

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Wasn't the officer responding to complaints, and not just randomly wasting time in the bathroom waiting for people to cruise the bathroom?

Posted by Chris in Tampa | September 3, 2007 1:46 PM

I wish you folk could become more outraged about the young guys who will never cruise or be cruisable again because they're dead dead dead in the seriously most non-cruisy places on earth - Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead of getting all exercised about a two-faced old coot restlessly looking for "love" in all the wrong rooms. Come to.

Posted by MISPLACED 'OUT' RAGE | September 3, 2007 1:54 PM

Cruising in a public bathroom is just gross and makes me feel sick!
¨The Hypocrisy¨ is the story. The toilet cruising, bathroom sex is a side note.
It´s exposing people who are condemning others but are living a lie.
Like I said public bathroom sex with a stranger is just gross to me but somebody condemning others in public and secretly doing the same thing is unforgivable and much more offensive.

Posted by mj | September 3, 2007 1:58 PM

I dunno. I figure that this must be the least desirable assignment possible for cops, and it could be used to say, "Listen, if we find out you're doing a less than stellar job on your regular duties, you're on bathroom cruising duty for a month." I think it would be nice if a cop who carried out an infraction that didn't rise to the level of termination, but did require discipline had the thought of some closet case's wang poking at him under a bathroom divider.

Posted by Gitai | September 3, 2007 2:01 PM

Oooo! Oooo! Or, all those cops that wanna be on the Vice Squad so they can use my tax dollars to get lap dances and feel up strippers should be forced to spend an equal amount of time having closet cases brandish their asses at them under dividers.

Posted by Gitai | September 3, 2007 2:05 PM

If anything, the hypocrisy involved with the people mentioned (and others we haven't discovered) will bring more and more of the "center" of politics in the US our way (that is equalizing the rights of GLBT people).

We are still 2nd class citizens and the embarrassment of people like Haggard and Craig marginalize the right wing more and more from the rest of America. The GLBT community has more and more acceptance by people that not long ago didn't even think about us or anyone identified with the community. While hilarious in one way, it's deadly serious in another. Part of making this political change will be to keep hammering away at those that seek to marginalize the gay and lesbian community. The Craig and Haggard issue isn't just about outing hypocrisy. It's about showing the rest of America 1) that sometimes the worst critics of the LGBT community often have sexual issues of their own and 2) that the actions of the hypocrites in powerful positions do have an effect upon many people that aren't so different from them.

There will be more to come. Savage or Signorille or Maupin busted in a toilet? Maybe if it's all three together that would last longer than George Michael's story about getting busted in LA. Otherwise it's Zzzzzzz to the media. The real story is to come- and that's the political change that Craig's actions well help move forward even faster.

Posted by Dave Coffman | September 3, 2007 2:55 PM

entrapment by Dan's definition is a crime that would not have been committed. However in the case of bathroom cruising, like cruising for prostitutes, the cruiser is, one might expect, actively looking for a way to commit the crime. Of course, one can ask "should it be a crime to cruise the bathroom?" Well, beyond the "it's gross" and "they must have been inept" comments, it needs to be clarified what is involved. There is peeping through stalls. There is making what one would assume is sexual eye contact. There is making more advances.There is actual sexual contact. One might reasonably sumise that the reason the general populace finds these actions threatening and thus illegal is that, beyond their homophobia, there is an inherent vulnerability when one is defecating (thus the locks on the stall doors). Furthermore as dan has pointed out elsewhere, forcing other people to witness one's sex act is involving them involuntarily in one's sex act. While it may be legal to jerk off in a stall, most of the general public does not see "jerking off area" or "cruising area" written after "mens" on the door. Since cruising is no longer illegal elsewhere, it seems reasonable that laws are passed not to cruise in certain bathrooms. Further, as social policy, I don't see the benefit of catering to gays who are so closeted by their own homophobia that the only place they feel comfortable cruising is in an anonomous public airport bathroom. There are plenty of other places to cruise and have anonomous sex without imposing ones sexual activity on others. There are bathrooms that allow both sexes, and I doubt that heterosexual cruising would be allowed in them either. For that matter, fathers of either sexual orientation, might be using the bathroom, with their male or female children, and might reasonably not want to walk in on anyone fellating anyone else where their children might easily look up and see. The issue is of the quality and use of the public space.
Of course, as others have, one might reasonably ask, "is this really a big problem, worthy of a sting operation?" Who knows? Maybe there are more closeted republican senators in the midwest who feel they simply must have sex where they could easily be caught by law enforcment. If this is the case, then sting operations seem a small price to pay.

Posted by MSW | September 3, 2007 3:17 PM

I want to be able to go about my day without forcibly encountering people fucking. Whether they be gay or straight.

Public sex is illegal for a reason, to make people who do it exercise a good deal of discretion. If nobody knows your doing it, then your not going to get in trouble.

Honestly if you can't manage to get a private place to fuck i.e. your own house, hotel room or carefully parked car maybe your not mature enough for sex.

Posted by Giffy | September 3, 2007 3:23 PM

#7, your concluding remarks made me chuckle.

There's a NY Times op ed on this subject:

Posted by D | September 3, 2007 3:34 PM

George Michael is an openly gay man who got caught in a tea room/cottage/whatever you call it, and if memory serves there wasn't much of an outcry--more like embarrassed twittering.

A lot of openly gay men have a fetish for public restroom sex--and like a lot of people, I'm always a little wary of treading on anyone else's sex life. The risk of such things, however, like being arrested, and having to be registered as a sex offender, doesn't really appeal.

Posted by Boomer in NYC | September 3, 2007 3:51 PM

I see nothing wrong with saying on the one hand that gays shouldn't be marginalized, and singled out for persecution like this, and it is a waste of police resources to bust gays in restrooms, while on the other hand calling Craig out for his gross hypocrisy.

If Dan Savage, Signorille or Maupin got caught cruising toilets in a police sting operation, then there would be no hypocrisy angle. None of them have made a long political career marching in lockstep with the right-wing moralists on every occasion, buying votes with gay-baiting and fear mongering, while at the same time trolling for cock in public bathrooms.

Craig himself didn't say that it was entrapment. He didn't say bathroom cruising should be legalized. He plead guilty. And then he said it was a misunderstanding based on his wide stance, and that he is not gay.

He made his bed. Now he gets to lay in it. The hypocritical moralist absolutely had it coming.

Posted by SDA in SEA | September 3, 2007 3:54 PM

I'm sure you meant to say "their ineptitude", not they're.
Otherwise-right on the money again.

Posted by grammar police | September 3, 2007 4:55 PM

Uh, is he forgetting that Larry Craig was traveling on our tax dollars? Yeah. I think he is.

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Posted by J-COLLABO | September 3, 2007 5:56 PM

@13: Exactly. More hypocrisy from the Republican spend nothing crowd. Also, let's not forget about the staff dollars (like his scheduler, chief of staff, etc) time that was wasted. And all the dollars spent now that he's resigned.

Posted by Dave Coffman | September 3, 2007 6:00 PM

Dan Savage, what an American.

Here he says if he had been arrested, there might have been a civil liberties issue with what the cops were doing. But with Craig, it's a different story.

You know, Dan, it wasn't that long ago that people were saying it was fine for cops to harass gays because they were a different story.

Civil liberties are always tested by those, as with Craig, we might find detestable.

Dan, don't be so high and mighty. It shows you've spent too much time on CNN and the NYT.

Posted by Does the NYT Op-Ed Editor Know This About Dan? | September 3, 2007 6:03 PM

You're too germophopic to sit on an airport toilet seat, but you have no problem licking doorknobs?

Posted by Tiffany | September 3, 2007 6:15 PM

I am confused by the suggestion that I have no right to be free of having somebody watching me through the door of the stall while I sit on the toilet.

Also, notice how no one is talking about those fucking voyeur glory holes these cruising fetish losers are always drilling through the stall doors and the costly efforts made to prevent or fix the damage. I've talked to several women about about these holes since the Craig bathroom incident and they are so surprised.

Why wouldn't there be some police action? These holes are straight up (?) vandalism. And like the golf course holes in Caddyshack, holes are a sign that there are gophers at work. And that makes Bill Murray upset. Overpowering force must be used. Huge bathroom SWAT teams.

Although the bathroom cruising seems to be an effort to have bathroom sex, I've never walked in on anyone having sex in a mens room and maybe only gotten the unwelcome look into the toilet once. Still, it bothers me that I have to be concerned about or my son having to deal with it.

Posted by Samba | September 3, 2007 6:29 PM

Speaking of staff, what did he tell his staff he was doing? Were they waiting outside watching airport news?

Posted by Jude Fawley | September 3, 2007 6:31 PM

All you have to do is look at the number of phony moralists driven from public life in disgrace per unit of police man hours, and you'll see it's worth it. More than worth it: we should declare war on vice and drive the entire Republican party out of office. I bet every one of them is into something sick.

Posted by elenchos | September 3, 2007 6:55 PM

The airport PD says they received complaints. They have not elaborated on who made them.

They have not explained why a time- consuming entrapment operation was needed, or why such an operation was more effective than sending a uniformed cop in to shout "move along, gents."

They have, however, made the news before, not for their bathroom sting ops, but for harrassing bicyclers.

Make no mistake, I think Craig's a pig and a hippatwit, and my only regret is that his downfall didn't come a month before the general election, perfectly timed to hand the Dems the seat on a silver platter. But there's definitely a double standard in how cops and society respond to homo vs. hetero sexual misconduct.

Posted by TLjr | September 3, 2007 7:39 PM

Who the fuck are Michaelangelo Signorille and Armistead Maupin?

Posted by Sean | September 3, 2007 7:52 PM

@22 - Some fags, I guess.

But I keep thinking the same thing every time I look at this post.

Posted by Chris in Tampa | September 3, 2007 7:57 PM

@ 22 and 23

Armistead Jones Maupin Jr. is an American writer best known for his Tales of the City series of novels based in San Francisco.

Michelangelo Signorile served as editor-at-large and columnist at The Advocate, and was a columnist for OUT magazine. He's also authored several books.

Kind of like Dan Savage.

Posted by yucca flower | September 3, 2007 8:18 PM

#22 and #23 Google it. Jesus fuck. I am about as straight as you can git, and I know who Maupin is. Then again I read.

On the whole subject though, cruising bathrooms is just creepy. When I am squeezing one out, the last thing I am thinking of is getting some. I don't think that is just my sexual orientation either. Say I was at the airport, pushing out the sandwich and four beers I had earlier that day. Now also imagine this is very progressive airport with coed bathrooms. Even if Drew Fuckin Barrymore hit on me at that moment, I would tell her to go fuck herself. That is my time to share only with my bung hole, and a magazine.
Not that I think there should be a vice squad working on it. They should be rousting the fucking tweekers two doors down from me. Toilet cruising should just be considered bad etiquette. Like farting in an elevator, or chew with your mouth full.

Posted by opus | September 3, 2007 8:22 PM

And it is Michelangelo.

Posted by opus | September 3, 2007 8:24 PM

24-26 I think I detect sarcasm failure.

Posted by gnossos | September 3, 2007 8:54 PM

Hey, 16? I said that if I were arrested the civil lib issue might have a better chance of coming to the forefront, and being "the" story. There wouldn't be a hypocrisy angle if I got busted doing something stupid in that can. It's not that there isn't a civil lib issue with Craig, and there are writers out there raising it. (Even on the op-ed pages of Sunday's NYT.) But that angle is so totally swamped by Craig's hypocrisy that it can't get much traction.

Read first, 16, slam second.

Posted by Dan Savage | September 3, 2007 9:00 PM
Posted by Anon | September 3, 2007 9:31 PM

You really don't get it.

Hang around the real world. You've been blinded by the TV lights.

Think first, then write. Glib gets you on CNN, but it's not wisdom, pal.

Posted by Does the NYT Op-Ed Editor Know This About Dan? | September 3, 2007 9:56 PM

I don't think you understand that "it's a different story" means that it's literally a different story.

Posted by Chris in Tampa | September 3, 2007 10:15 PM

I got kicked out of Pump Jack Pub in Vancouver because some guy said I threw a peanut at him and was going to call the cops.
What happened to the city I grew up in Pump Jack is such a lame Sports Bar now..
Oh right washroom sex umm ya well the same sex is happening everywhere, sex is sex, good and bad. Take him down for being a hypocrite creep. The sex thing will never go away.

Posted by -B- | September 3, 2007 11:53 PM

But here's the deal: you have a cop on a stake out in a public restroom. A stake out! And he arrests a guy and then submits a report saying this guy did all of the things that cruisey folks know to be code for dirty hot bathroom sex. And so we get a lot of people (like the person who posted about it here a while ago) who say "Of course he was cruising! He couldn't have accidentally been enacting the exact cruisey code!" That's true -- but since when do educated people take a cop's word as unvarnished truth? Stake outs of this nature, and vice patrols in general, tend to turn very quickly into witch hunts. I've peeked through the cracks of bathroom stalls dozens of times, in order to determine if the stall is occupied (I'd rather catch a glimpse of a man's leg than see him in all his crapping glory if he didn't lock the door) I've probably even tapped my feet on the floor. What is to stop this vice cop from arresting me on this vague pretenses and then writing a report that is absolutely false? Nothing. Because gay men are assumed to engage in such behavior.

So yes, the issue of the airport police spending their time trying to stop public sex (which I assure you is hardly as rampant as the police make out) instead of, I don't know, stopping people from carrying nail files onto planes or something, goes far beyond Craig. I happen to believe the cop in this instance, but only because it's so unlikely that a guy who has been dogged by cottaging rumors for years would be arrested on allegations of doing exactly what everyone has been said he's doing for years. Had it been another supergay Republican (say, Mitch McConnell or Sam Brownback or Lindsey Graham) I'd be a lot less likely to believe this cop's almost too-perfect scenario.

Posted by Joshua | September 4, 2007 12:42 AM

One thing that struck me is that Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell called Craig's actions "unforgivable." What exactly is unforgivable? Being gay? Gay cruising? These can really never be forgiven?

Like Dan and many others have said, the hypocrisy is the only reason people on the left are enjoying this episode. Craig joins a long and growing list of Republican hypocrites. But you've gotta feel a bit bad for him when he's completely abandoned by his party because he might have been looking for consensual gay sex.

Posted by Gabriel | September 4, 2007 4:29 AM

Oh, the moral outrage!

Look, I'm no stranger to sleaze. I've had sex in bathrooms, in theatres, in parks, on trains, in offices - you name it. If I got busted, I would take my ticket like a man, admit my guilt - because I would indeed be guilty - pay my fine, and move on.

The cops do these stings when people complain. People complain because they go in to do their business and find used condoms, or lube, or cum, or blood all over a stall. Or they read graffiti about how readily sex is available in that bathroom. Or they hear some overly dramatic closet queens moaning as they do whatever it is they're doing.

They complain when some never-say-never queen plants herself in a stall and doesn't take no for an answer.

They complain because the bathroom gets a rap as a place to score, and gets listed on sites like squirt or cruisingforsex, and the bathroom gets overrun by amateurs.

If the cops DIDN'T do something about the public sex complaints, everyone would be bitching about how the cops "aren't doing anything" about public sex. I'm no fan of the cops, but I'm not dumb enough to think that they go sit in public toilets for kicks.

We can think lofty thoughts all we want - but that's how it works in the real world.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | September 4, 2007 6:36 AM

I know firsthand about police entrapment, having been a victim of it many years ago in LA. I was targeted because I was gay, and because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And I know this -- once the cop had me in his sights, there was little I could have done to prevent the arrest. When I arrived for my first court date, the police report was an incredible fabrication -- he had simply filled out a script that suited the purposes of the charges and had nothing to do with the conversation we had had.

It was many years before I saw a cop without getting very nervous. And I'm a pretty law-abiding guy.

So, I could go either way on this. Maybe the cop is telling the truth, maybe he's lying through his teeth, but the arrest couldn't have happened to a more deserving person. If it's a case of entrapment, it's one I can live with.

Posted by It's Mark Mitchell | September 4, 2007 6:37 AM

@34. Of course, you are right. The police officer can interpret as he wishes or just plain make shit up. I think most of us think he didn't do that so much in this case because Craig pled guilty. Also, when you listen to the interview, Craig is so cagey and shifty that it is hard to believe he is a guy who was just taking a dump.

The moral of the story:

NEVER TALK TO THE COPS!! if you are arrested. Most of the time any special deals that are offerred will be offerred whether you talk with the cops or not. The police know what they are doing - you don't. In this case Craig contradicted himself several times, thereby giving very useful evidence of a guilty and/or dishonest state of mind that prosecutors can use in court. blah blah blah.

Posted by mirror | September 4, 2007 8:16 AM

This story was so huge because it appealed to both gays and conservatives alike; Gays focused on the utter hypocrisy of Craig's actions, while Conservatives focused on the sensationalism of bathroom sex (some even going so far as to try and bring a pedophile angle into the mix)

But what you should really be asking yourself is this- Why did it all surface now...? Craig was arrested back on June 11th. Does it seem strange to anyone else that this conveniently comes to light the day after Alberto Gonzales resigns?

Seems to me this whole scandal was blown up to distract from the real story, and we all bought it... hook, line, and sinker.

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | September 4, 2007 9:36 AM

@34, 37, 38 agreed! when a cop is in a sting operation, they may tend to bend each case to fit the perfect scenario. if they honestly believe someone is guilty, but they don't have quite enough proof, they will in some cases stretch the truth enough for an arrest.

hypothetical: "the guy was checking me out in the stall, and then tapped his foot." certainly guilty, why not just add the part about the hand to get a better case for conviction?

when a cop believes they are doing the right thing, they maybe willing to lie in order to do it (or to harass a particular group). this happened to me as well (like 34 describes).

and in TV and movies (public opinion) people seem to support this idea. if you know the guy is guilty, but you just can't get him, then it's okay to break the law to bust him.

and i think that is outrageous whether the person is guilty or not.

Posted by infrequent | September 4, 2007 9:38 AM

@6: If anything, the hypocrisy involved with the people mentioned (and others we haven't discovered) will bring more and more of the "center" of politics in the US our way (that is equalizing the rights of GLBT people).

what will bring this to the center is the first time a significant political figure tells the truth. we are still waiting.

but a nice looking, church-going, family-man republican will have to explain what we know: that the culture he is surrounded by "forced" him to hide his behavior and true feelings. fear of his friends' and family's reactions held it at bay for so long, but he secretly began acting out. because he thought it was wrong he told himself that he wasn't what he was: gay. he even worked for laws against his own behavior because that is what was expected of him, all the while furthering his duplicitous actions.

when he admits he really is gay, then discourse amongst the right could really open up.

Posted by infrequent | September 4, 2007 9:44 AM

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