Toronto
2 min

Gay sex as bad as crack

The other day I said to a friend of mine: we’ve discovered there’s a police cleanup going on in Hamilton. He told me, “You know what happens when there’s a cleanup, it’s the queers they go after first.”



He’s right. And Hamilton Police Chief Brian Mullan has borrowed a page from the book of Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino when it comes to clamping down: Raid and arrest while offering a lot of community smiling in photo-ops and walkabouts. Realizing it might not be tactful to announce a massive city-wide cleanup, Mullan has been doing it in bits and pieces here and there. But the gay community, the sex-work community and Hamilton’s pot smokers are onto him.



Queers started catching on after Aug 3, when Hamilton’s Multi-Agency Taskforce (MATF), made up of cops, health and licensing inspectors, raided Show World (a video peep booth place), the Warehouse Spa And Bath (a bathhouse) and The Windsor bar. They arrested two law-abiding gay men for alleged indecent acts in a corner of the bathhouse.



I attended a meeting with the police and queer people where Mullan assured us that the raids were routine, and that nothing special was going on.



I suspected he wasn’t being completely honest with us, so I decided to do some investigating on my own.



I dropped by Show World and asked an employee there how things were going. He told me that the police come by three or four times a day. The result is that their business is down 95 percent. One regular at Show World told me that he chatted with the police on one of their visits, who told him it was their intention to close Show World down.



Then the plot thickened.



I picked up The Hamilton Spectator on Sep 16, only to learn that a 70-year-old Hamilton grandmother had been arrested for smoking marijuana in Hamilton’s new pot cafe, Up In Smoke. A headline in the Sep 17 issue proclaimed: “Project Concession Takes On Hookers, Thieves.”



The article talked about a new project to rout the prostitutes from the Concession St area, because “sex-trade workers act as a catalyst for other types of street crime.”



Police are visiting a dirty video store four times a day, criminalizing grandmothers and demonizing prostitutes? Hey, I’d say that’s called a massive city wide cleanup.



Now there are lots of problems in Hamilton, including crack and teenage prostitution to name two. But the city won’t solve them by targeting law-abiding queers, pot smokers and sex workers.



Fortunately people in Hamilton are taking a page from the Toronto Book Of Political Activism, and we’re fighting back. There will be a public forum in Hamilton called Stop The Cops on Wed, Oct 6 at 7pm at The Werx gay and lesbian bar (151 Hughson St N). If you happen to be in Hamilton, come check us out. The tactics being used by the police in Hamilton are not that different than what’s been going on in Toronto recently.



Hey, when it comes to victimizing fags – in big cities and small – everything connects.



* Sky Gilbert is a writer and activist living in Hamilton.