(In the USA, toilets where men meet for sex are sometimes called “tearooms” rather than cottages – and in Australia, they are called “beats”.)What emerged was a parallel world much deeper, more secretive and more complex than first appears – one of both the liberated and the closeted; of politicians and celebrities mixing with the most private of people; where self-discovery and escapism intermingle with addiction, abuse, and sexual violence.Some started going to toilets for sex when they were still children.On one occasion at Liverpool Street station, he says, “The police came along with a mirror on the end of a long pole.This officer was going along with this mirror, along the tops of the cubicles, and banging on doors.The policing of cottaging had become, like stop-and-search policies, incendiary, politicised. Michael, a smiley, salt-and-pepper-haired businessman, has for nearly 40 years gone cottaging and cruising across the country.
When George Michael, therefore, was caught in a Los Angeles toilet in 1998, the fury he later expressed through his satirical song and video "Outside", mocking the officer who he says had entrapped him, was not merely personal.
A few months before Tim was caught, another man found himself in the grasps of the British Transport police. He says he had been standing at the urinals next to another man. Andrew looked over at the other man’s, at which point he heard a voice call out.“The police were where the sinks are. It was then that Andrew noticed they were wearing cameras: small devices attached to the uniforms, which the British Transport police call “body-worn video” (aka BWV) cameras.
Afterwards, when they were let go after an almost identical process to the one Tim had described, Andrew was left anxiously wondering if the cameras were turned on, and whether they had filmed him in the toilets. He says the police told him they would not press charges if he admitted what he had been doing.
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