They think that because bathhouses are allowed to operate, they're safe. Subscribe to All One click gets you all the newsletters listed below. If we can't do away with sexually oriented businesses," he said, "we can at least clean them up. But out of sight, out of mind seems to be an apt description of the city's stance on bathhouses. In writing the ordinance that would have applied to Midtowne, Hersh consulted other cities' adult-oriented business rules, as well as a draft of a similar ordinance that city staff started in the mid-Eighties but never completed because local bathhouses were closing in the wake of AIDS. The effort to pass the moratorium had gained momentum after a July fire at the site of Browning Ferris Inc. In any case, Baley says an important issue in the whole debate is who makes decisions about personal behavior and which businesses people may patronize.
Both, it turns out, oppose a new category in the city zoning code for "adult service businesses.
Austin Loses ‘A Safe Space for Gay Men to Go Have Sex’
A note to readers: Often, he says, gay men who are struggling with their sexuality engage in anonymous sex with other men -- and often such encounters are facilitated by alcohol or drug use. As it became apparent that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, could be spread through unprotected sex, officials around the country targeted bathhouses and other sex clubs for closure. For the past 21 years, Midtowne has been a gay community destination, discreetly located on Airport Boulevard near Highland Mall Photo by Jana Birchum. The issue facing Austin, he says, is how bathhouses are to be regulated to protect their patrons and to keep them out of neighborhoods where they are not compatible with existing development. The Midtowne Spa bathhouse offers patrons rooms for rent and videos to view. Bathhouses were a source of contention — to some they were integral to gay culture, for others they were dangerous.
They also offered HIV testing, educational resources, and free condoms on-site, he said. Steeped in Discretion If it is indeed anonymity that customers are after, Midtowne delivers. It was the lack of business. When arguing his case before the City Council, Zappas primarily took issue with the proposed parking requirements. Having a bathhouse to visit just makes it easier to make unwise and unsafe choices. Orta, the safe-sex activist who is opposed to bathhouses, says the same level of denial still affects the gay community, especially at bathhouses like Midtowne.