There used to be a time that gay men had virtually no safe spaces for meeting, flirting and hooking up, especially in backwater towns like Wilton Manors, Florida. But that’s changed since the 1950s, and you no longer have to cruise with a wink and prayer that you won’t be arrested just for holding your pinkie outstretched when you drink.
While many southern states may still be a less-than-hospitable place for queers, there are now gay bars, hookup apps, networking events, campgrounds and plenty of places where you can safely grope a friend without spooking passers-by. And yet, the thrill of a public encounter is still too much for some Florida gays to resist, and so they continue to descent on Colohatchee Park to do naughty things to each other.
Now the town’s come up with a novel plan to discourage sex: Dog parties. They’re encouraging residents to come to the “Woof and Wine” gathering for food and drinks and playdates — the kind with actual bio-dogs, not naked pup play.
Neighbors hope that the park can change its reputation from a cruising spot to a family-friendly oasis. Residents are required to pay a permit fee to own dogs, though one neighborhood activist has suggested that they should instead charge a fee for having public sex.
Now, while it’s all very nice that they want to have a pleasant park for everyone, and that sexual activity makes some people uncomfortable, there is surely a tinge of homophobia to all this. It’s perfectly legitimate to want sex out of the park, but do we really believe that that’s what’s motivating everyone involved? No. For many people, this is probably just another opportunity to harass homosexuals.