Sen. Craig Not the First "Tapping Tom" - 1970s Study of Men Who Seek Sex in Public Spaces

Sen. Craig wasn't the first "Tapping Tom" to tap dance for a tryst.  Word of men having anonymous sex with other men in restrooms and other public places is the oldest of old news. The Austin-American Statesman published an article about a 1970s study of the practice.

Back in the 1960s, "naughty" behavior in public restrooms was called the "Tearoom Trade."   A young graduate student from Washington University in St. Louis, Laud Humphreys, wanted to know what compelled men to have random, anonymous sexual encounters in public places. So he started hanging out in public restrooms to peep the behavior and find out.  The result of his voyeurism and 100 interviews with men involved in the "tearoom trade" was his doctoral dissertion: "Trearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Personal Places."

Humphreys observed that "the men [interested in bathroom sex] would use silent signals - call and response foot-tapping and finger-pointing - to seek willing partners.... 54 percent of the men were married and living with their wives; 38 percent considered themselves neither bisexual nor homosexual. The men wanted a sexual release that was quick and would not endanger their standing with their family or society. Just 14 percent of the men identified themselves as living-in-the-open homosexuals."

The results of the study - that men engaging in homosexual sex in the bathrooms were heterosexual (or at least living as such) and not gay - were very controversial at the time. So controversial, that Humphreys lost his job over the study.  Many people wanted to know why Humphreys, who was a married fether of two, was so interested watching other men get it on in the bathroom.  Years later, the truth came out, and so did he. He's gay.

 

 

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This page contains a single entry by Polichicks published on September 9, 2007 10:49 PM.

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