Toronto
2 min

Police hassle AIDS educator

Trevor Gray has watched police run down gay men at Cherry Beach

CLIENTELE. Trevor Gray says many black men having park sex are married. Credit: Mark Bogdanovic

Police have harassed a safer sex educator in a city park.



“Every evening after supper, I walk,” says the Black Coalition For AIDS Prevention’s Trevor Gray. He was in the Don Valley when two officers recently stopped him “to chat.”



“They said, ‘Take your hands out of your pockets.’ So I pulled everything out of my pockets, and they said, ‘No, no, no. Just your hands.'”



Gray cooperated, giving police his particulars (though he didn’t have to unless he was actually under arrest).



But he also gave the coppers a piece of his mind. “I said, ‘You know, I’ve always felt safe walking through here.’



“There’s a serial rapist and police don’t seem to be using their resources where they’re necessary.”



The encounter means the leading safe-sex educator has made the list of names of queers that police are collecting from city parks.



And Gray says the continued hassling of people in parks, under the special 11-week overtime Community Action Policing program, is hurting his work.



“The cops show up and the cocks are gone,” quips Gray. “It makes the kind of outreach we do that much more difficult.”



Gray visits parks, bathhouses, and bars as part of Black CAP’s education program.



Mayor Mel Lastman pretty much ordered cops to focus on green spaces after telling a radio audience that folks discarding used condoms in parks should be criminally charged.



“Toronto public health is giving AIDS service organizations money to go into these places and do prevention,” Gray says, adding that he’s seen gays chased down and arrested at Cherry Beach.



“So the police are now going in there, and we don’t know where to find these men.”



Gray says about 80 percent of Black CAP’s clients are married with children, and most have gone further underground.



“I’m sure they’re having sex,” he says. “But where?”



“We used to see up to 30 men at lunch time. After work, we used to see up to 60. That’s not happening.”



Gray says the dread makes safety a second thought, too.



“If every time you have to look over your shoulder whenever you put a dick in your mouth, safer sex is not your first priority.”



In protest, Gray is now wearing another handkerchief as one of the front men for the June 13 Committee.



“According to my information, they were charging older men and men of colour,” says Gray. “People who might not be able to stand up and talk about what happened.



“Having worked with men who have sex with men for so long, I can’t look at this and say it’s an isolated incident.



“We all go to bathhouses and believe it’s safe, but I don’t believe that’s so.”



June 13 is also campaigning to reform laws governing consensual sex.



But it’s the resurrection of a network to monitor police that’s bound to have bobbies looking over their shoulders.



“Police are policing the police, and I don’t think that works,” says Gray. “I don’t know who they’re accountable to, because they’re not accountable to the chief of police.”