The gay baths are synonymous to the gay community as apple pie is to the straight community. This is an industry that had thrived under the gay movement in the 1970s and survived the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. But now one conservative gay activist wants to change that. He would like to see the gay baths disappear completely.
James Wharton is a soldier who served with Prince Harry in the Household Cavalry. He came out in 2005, two years after he enlisted. For the most part his comrades were supportive. Including Prince Harry whom Wharton describes as "100% gay-friendly".
Openly out, Wharton has now become an activist for LGBT causes. He is also conservative in his beliefs. Which brings us to a recent OP-ED piece he wrote for Winq magazine. Linking the high number of drug overdoses to the baths, he has advocated to having them shut down completely.
He writes "Sex saunas need to be history. The time has come to close them down." If we as a community want mainstream acceptance, sauna have to be shut down. Because they are "thorns in our side that mark our community as different for the wrong reasons."
"If we don't, we feed the haters and we hand the bigots who remain a vocal minority ammunition with which to attack us."
"For me as a gay man, the notion that there exist within our communities a series of places that actively promote the convening of gay men for participation in sex of shades various and in groups of all sizes rather revolts me - and I've been round the block a few times, believe me. I'm no prude, not even close, but the days when we gathered in clandestine fashion for the want of a network or a sexual outlet are surely long gone,"
Bottom line? It's time for gay men to "grow up"
The reaction has been swift and fast, with most of it negative from the gay community. Responding to the backlash Wharton has released a statement that reads in part:
"I find it unfathomable that people do not comprehend the danger associated with engaging in sexual activity with strangers, often under the influence of alcohol and drugs - saunas are major culprits for all three of these risk factors."
What do you think? Do you agree with James Wharton? Or do you find his comments offensive. Comment below to start a discussion.