So, James Wharton, an openly gay soldier, would like all gay saunas shut down so that we no longer “feed the haters”?

Hmmmm……I wonder if he’s right? My gut tells me that shutting private premises where what happens happens behind closed doors isn’t going to stop bigots from abusing other humans, verbally or physically. If someone fundamentally doesn’t like who or what you are, will closing down a business premises actually make them think “hang about, I got you gays all wrong, come here and lets cuddle”? Cant see it myself

James claims to be “no prude” yet says that having multiple partners, in a consensual setting disgust him. The thought that saunas exists for gay men to meet and participate in whatever they want rather revolts him. Is that because he isn’t invited? Sorry, that was a flippant comment – but why does he feel he needs to comment?

Now, lets look at the flip side: we have massage parlours where straight men attend, usually for more than a massage – we all need happy ending at times! We have straight saunas that offer the same facilities as gay saunas and I don’t see anyone asking for them to shut down so that the LGBT community wont hate them, but wait, we don’t tend to abuse people for their sexuality and tend to be slightly more relaxed in our attitude towards sex and sexuality.

I find the thought that someone feels they can judge in this manner, and for it to be one of our “own” community, revolting and abhorrent. If someone feels the need to go to a sauna, who am I to condemn them? It doesn’t affect me in the slightest, it doesn’t impact me or mine so why would I call for them to close?

Surely they serve a purpose, or they wouldn’t exist? For a start, they provide employment, they also provide an outlet for some in our community who feel the need to go here rather than on the scene to meet partners. Again, who are we to judge where people go to meet others? They aren’t illegal!

James comments that surely the reason for their existence are long gone. But have they? We still have closeted people, either not ready or unwilling to come out, so somewhere they feel able to do whatever they want anonymously can’t be bad – can it? Does James live in a rose-tinted world where there are no closets and everyone can be what or who they want?

My issue is once again, the slow eating away at, for want of a better term, our freedom, our liberties, our rights to make our own choices and pick up shags where we want!

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Even health and gay rights campaigners comment that closing them down would have no effect on homophobia. Surely, taking it one step further, if they closed saunas, more clandestine opportunities may be sought out, leading to more attacks and risks taken? Is that a good thing?

I do understand that they can be dangerous and risky places too – the recent death in a Manchester sauna highlighted the issues around drugs and sex. However, the issue should have been more around the drugs taken, not the venue it was done in? Yet, the sauna owners and staff were heavily criticised for the event.

As we watch in amazement at the draconian measures being implemented around the world, we should protect what we have and push for more! Hands off our saunas!

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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.