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J Homosex. 2003;44(3-4):33-53.

The history of gay bathhouses. 1984.


Public policy regarding bathhouses has been criticized as being based on political expediency rather than on medical or social science. To affect that shortcoming, we include here a brief history of gay bathhouses. The history of the baths is rarely told, but whenever it is told it necessarily reflects the times in which it was written. For that reason, we include a history written in 1984, at the time that much of what was known about AIDS, routes of transmission and the role of the bathhouses was very much in flux. This history not only gives a context for the current discussion, but also allows the reader to see the history from that distant point in time. This paper was first published in December 1984 as an article in Coming Up!, a lesbian and gay community newspaper published monthly in San Francisco (California). It was later edited and reprinted in a book titled Policing Public Sex (1996). The version of the paper presented here is from the original 1984 article (pp. 15-19); several images appeared with the article that are not reproduced here. As with all the reprinted papers in this volume, no editorial changes were made to the paper and only minor typographical errors were corrected.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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