Irony: The New Virus Delays Reopening Of San Francisco's Gay Bathhouses Closed Due To The Old Virus
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From Bay Area Reporter:

Coronavirus outbreak postpones hearing on SF bathhouse policy
by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
Tuesday Mar 10, 2020

A Thursday hearing to discuss a policy change to allow bathhouses like Steamworks in Berkeley in San Francisco has been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The first hearing on allowing gay bathhouses to reopen in San Francisco has been postponed in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

… In light of coronavirus developments, Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee over the weekend asked his colleagues to postpone their legislative proposals likely to draw a large contingent of the public to speak on the matter at City Hall hearings.

Thus, gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman made the decision to postpone the planned hearing for Thursday, March 12, on his ordinance aimed at updating the city’s policies regarding private rooms in adult sex venues. …

So far the Bay Area’s two gay bathhouses, the Watergarden in San Jose and Steamworks in Berkeley, remain open and have not shut down due to the coronavirus. Both are operating on their usual 24-hours a day, seven days a week schedule. …

San Francisco’s bathhouse restrictions were instituted in 1984 during the height of the AIDS epidemic in response to a lawsuit the city had filed and resulted in the businesses shutting their doors. That October a San Francisco Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order that shuttered nine gay bathhouses and sex clubs.

In late November of that year another judge lifted the restraining order but imposed new rules on how the bathhouses and sex clubs could operate. No longer could they rent private rooms, unless they secured a hotel license, and employees had to monitor the sexual behavior of patrons. …

The legal case came to an end in 1989 when the city dismissed its lawsuit. By then the city’s gay bathhouses were no more, but over the ensuing years sex clubs opened their doors. Several, like Eros and Blow Buddies, remain in business, albeit without private rooms patrons can lock shut.

By the 1990s the city’s health officials saw the sex clubs as avenues to reach gay men and educate them about safe sex practices. But they had remained resolute in their opposition to allowing gay bathhouses to open with private rooms.

In light of such advancements in HIV prevention like PrEP, the once-a-day pill that prevents the transmission of HIV, and people living with HIV with undetectable HIV viral loads unlikely to transmit the virus to their sexual partners, city health officials this year for the first time told the B.A.R. they would not object to seeing gay bathhouses reopen with private rooms. …

Initially, Mandelman had included language instructing DPH officials to revise the city’s bathhouse rules by June 1. But in light of the health department’s focus on dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, that deadline had been pushed back to July 1.

Well, that was big of him.

Public reaction to the proposal has been “overwhelmingly positive,” noted Mandelman, who expects it will be adopted. …”With regard to this latest delay in the hearing, people have been waiting for decades to see the bathhouse policies changed, so having to wait another month is unfortunate but probably necessary.”

Granted, this article is slightly demented. Yet, in some ways, it is saner than most mentions of AIDS in recent years in the mainstream media, where AIDS has been retconned into being due to homophobia, especially Ronald Reagan’s homophobia (or, if a gay man is writing the article, Nancy Reagan’s homophobia). In reality, of course, the AIDS crisis of the 1980s was more or less a direct side effect of the triumph of Gay Liberation in the 1970s. But you aren’t supposed to mention that in the MSM.

It will be interesting to see how the history of the new viral epidemic will be rewritten in the years to come to flatter the powerful.

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