With the striking down of sodomy laws in 2003 with Lawrence vs. Texas, sex between two people of the same gender in the privacy of their own home was decriminalized. However, queer bodies in public spaces are still policed, with the most marginalized in our LGBT communities affected.
Take New York City for instance. The village is known to be the birth of the gay rights movement, but when complaints of loitering emerged in the expensive real estate areas, the police started weekend stings for loitering and prostitution. Reasons a person could be arrested range from standing in an area known for prostitution, wearing provocative apparel…and even tt clothing that does not match their perceived birth sex.
Who are those arrested? According to the panel, 100% of those charged in 2009 identified as LGBT, with the majority effeminate or gender non-conforming. poor persons of color under 25. Yet, when policing of queer bodies is done to those with privilege, proactive responses result. For instance, when over 30 white middle-aged gay men were tricked out of adult video store in vice operations in 2008, protests outside Mayor Bloomberg’s house and police investigations resulted. Outrage on behalf of those with privilege, yet when the same occurs to the disenfranchised, the communities look the other way.
Out of the whole conversation of the panel, the most shocking fact in my opinion is the use of condoms as evidence. You have a population who are at high risk of contracting HIV afraid to have condoms on their person because of getting arrested. With no possibility of explusion of files, the consequences are high; an individual can be denied programs in public housing and other assistance services. I was glad to hear that collaborative efforts are occuring in communities affected in as trying hinder this public health threat of condoms used as evidence are underway.
For more information on this panel, check out the awesome post Emilia Dunham wrote! But for now…
Over and out (of the closet),