2 min

Anger & concern

Are the Bijou raids an isolated incident as the police claim? Some in the gay and lesbian community doesn’t think so.

Speaker after speaker came up to the microphone at an Aug 4 public forum to say they feared the worst – that the raids are a prelude to something bigger.

The gathering, titled Community, Cops, Consensual Sex: Are We Under Attack, itself began rather quietly but quickly spiraled into a mood of anger. People have had enough and they were going to let City Councillor Kyle Rae, who was in attendance, know it.

Even the panelists were worried.

“The raids on the Bijou are no different than the bathhouse raids of ’81, only the scale is different,” said Peter Bochove, co-owner of Spa Excess.

Bochove believes this is indeed only the beginning.

Although there was no damage done, the damage to the lives of those arrested is incalculable. Bochove said that a community group needs to be organized in order to fight off any more of these attacks.

But these aren’t the only concerns that were put forth. Trevor Gray, of the Black Coalition For AIDS Prevention, was thinking about condoms.

“If every time you decide to put a cock in your mouth and you have to look over your shoulder for the police, safer sex will not be your primary concern,” said Gray.

About three dozen of the more than 200 people from the community spoke their piece, most with similar themes.

There were, however, a few voices of dissent.

A straight man who said he’d been a local resident of the Church and Wellesley community for 23 years, said those who have public sex are breaking the laws and should be arrested.

He then suggested a red light district for these lawbreakers, a not so popular idea that caused many jeers.

“I have seen with my own eyes gay men having sex beside my house, I have moved my children out from there and I’m not moving out from there,” he said. “We should leave the police alone and let them do their job, there are straight people in this community too and we need to look at them.”

Another resident, who gave her name as Carrie, said she’d lived in the area for six months, and is worried for children. “My child is in Edmonton where she belongs because I don’t want her to see this kind of area. I think it’s absolutely degrading that our children have to see it,” said Carrie.

Several people blamed the politicians, in particular, Kyle Rae. Bochove spoke up for Rae.

Councillor Rae spoke after everyone – refusing to give up the microphone until he was done.

“The chief of police knows that this is unacceptable, Deputy Chief Boyd has been told that this should not happen again. The head of 52 Division knows that clearly, as well as all officers in our community.”

Rae insisted that some officers at 52 Division are embarrassed and angered by what has happened at the Bijou.