Saturday, September 1, 2007

Grand Old Tradition

More things I did not know.

According to this article on “tearoom trysts,” men have sought out anonymous homosexual sex in bathrooms for decades:
ST. LOUIS — Back in the 1960s, long before a U.S. senator got busted for lewd behavior in an airport bathroom, it was called "the tearoom trade."

But social researchers knew almost nothing about it.

So a young graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis started digging. He spent months hanging out in the public restrooms of St. Louis' Forest Park. He wanted to observe the tearoom trade in action: men who met for brief, anonymous homosexual trysts in public. He wanted to discover what compelled them.

The interesting thing is that many of the men participating in this activity are not, in fact, gay. In fact, it seems there’s something else going on here:

Humphreys found that 54 percent of the men were married and living with their wives. He found 38 percent considered themselves neither bisexual nor homosexual. The men wanted a sexual release that was quick and would not endanger their standing with their family or society. Just 14 percent of the men identified themselves as living-in-the-open homosexuals.
Humphreys coined the term "breastplate of righteousness" to describe men who used the cloak of social and political conservatism to conceal their deviant behavior.

This is very interesting. I had no idea that research into this behavior goes back to the 1960s, or that the research suggests there really is a connection between conservatism and the compulsion to act out in this way.

Any guys out there want to weigh in on this one? Have you seen anything like this? How common is it to get approached in public bathrooms, anyway?