Tuesday, October 08, 2013

If SF Closes Parks at Night, Will it be the End of Gay Cruising?

Outdoor sex in San Francisco's public parks among gay men and those on the down-low is a cherished aspect of being queer in this City.

A proposal by Castro district's member of the Board of Supervisor, would close the parks from midnight to 5:00 am, and the driving factor behind this closure effort is a desire to ban sleeping by the homeless in the parks.

According to Joshua Sabatini in today's SF Examiner, the proposed law passed out of committee yesterday and now goes to the full Board for further consider. Expect civic fireworks to ensue. Sabatini reports on concerns that the law will have a detrimental effect on homeless people:

The proposal has advocates for the homeless upset, as they say people without housing find safe havens in city parks.“This is going to have the impact of displacing very vulnerable people,” said Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness [...]

Supervisor Jane Kim, who cast the lone opposition vote Monday, expressed concerns about the impacts on homeless people while suggesting that some parks could be excluded from the law. 

But others, including one gay man, who live one of the parks famous for queer nighttime cruising, expressed support for the proposal:

Some neighborhood leaders, however, say operating hours are overdue. Richard Magary, head of the Buena Vista Neighborhood Association, said the community has “seen enough of [vandalism] in Buena Vista Park.”

“Having park operating hours is just good business. It’s common sense,” Magary said. 

My first question is if this proposal becomes law and the homeless are rousted from the parks during the closed hours, where will they go? The existing shelters are bursting at capacity and nightly turn away folks because there simply are not enough beds. I guess we can expect to see more homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks if the Supervisor gets his way.

Another question is will the law end gay male cruising for sex in the parks?

I've asked a number of gays about such activities and they assure me the likes of Manhunt, Grindr and Craig's List have not made cruising in the parks of San Francisco obsolete.

So far, I've read nothing online about the impact the law would have on same-sexers in the parks after midnight and hope that my questions are addressed by the Bay Area Reporter in its coverage of the hearing on Monday.


Joaz said...

And so the liberty-phobes who now control San Francisco are putting yet another nail in the coffin of freedom. It's no surprise that Scott Wiener and his running-dog supporters are behind this latest restriction. And where will the homeless who are now sleeping in the parks go to sleep? In people's doorways, and on the sidewalks, of course! Real smart, wienerites... real smart.

Anonymous said...

And how would a sleeping ban have affected the Occupy movement? They would have been booted out or arrested on the very first night. It clearly is a means of political control rather than vandalism mitigation...because you can still "pass through" the parks...which means vandals can still be there long enough to do their damage.