Saturday, 11th Feb 2012

Tearoom – Ohio police film of cruising in 1962

In 2007, filmmaker William E. Jones came across an hour of surveillance footage of men cruising for gay sex in a public toilet in Mansfield, Ohio in 1962. The footage, taken through a mirror, had led to 30 prosecutions for sodomy, then a crime. Jones now shows the footage, unedited and without sound, at film festivals under the title Tearoom.

It’s both fascinating and sobering to see evidence that within such recent history people could not only be imprisoned for consensual fucking but that they would be caught in such an elaborate way. It also explains a lot about why, despite huge leaps in civil liberties, massive amounts of bigotry and discrimination still exist in our so-called enlightened societies, and serves as a warning that we could so easily slip back there.

There’s a great MetaFilter thread on this with some good debate on the rights and wrongs on cruising. This comment, starting “In 1960 my great uncle Henry got nabbed in a Baltimore restroom in flagrante delicto” is particularly touching. William Jones talks about his motivation for showing it here and you can download the whole 421 MB film from this link.

via Matt Haughey

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