Could the ban against gay bathhouses in San Francisco be lifted? It is a possibility. Since the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, San Francisco has placed a moratorium on the bathhouse industry. But San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is “open” to allowing gay bathhouses to re-open. Provided public health officials feel it will not stop plans to eliminate all new HIV infections by 2020.
As reported by the Bay Area Reporter
Says Mayor Ed Lee, “The issue about bathhouses and so forth that is an item that blends entertainment along with safe sex, and I have got to have experts telling me that is something they wouldn’t have a problem with,” said Lee. “I would be open to it but I have got to have that kind of process.”
Race Bannon, a longtime HIV activist and writer in San Francisco who pens the B.A.R.’s leather column, said interest in bathhouses differs by age, based on the responses he has received when he raises the issue.
“I think for gay men of a certain age they, most of them I think, would like to see them reopen because they remember them clearly, and younger men, many of whom have grown up without ever being in a San Francisco Bay Area culture of bathhouses, simply don’t have a point of reference so they are less interested,” said Bannon, who in 2000 was part of an effort to get the city to reopen the bathhouses.
He agreed with Bense’s contention that, “We have a politically driven argument around bathhouses that has nothing to do with science.” The city, Bannon added, “has to change its policy to be in line with good public health science and what is best for the gay male community. And that is allowing the opening of bathhouses should a bathhouse decide to open.”
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