Gay men ‘smeared’ and ‘outed’ after being arrested for private sex acts in adult store
More than a dozen gay men were reportedly smeared and possibly outed after being arrested at an adult entertainment store in Florida.
The 13 men were charged with public exposure and lascivious acts for engaging in sexual activity at the back of the Pleasure Emporium store in Hollywood, Florida, despite the acts being consensual and taking place in private rooms.
Police say two undercover officers entered the adult store after receiving tip offs about sex acts in the store. The officers then paid $25 to enter locked, private rooms at the back of the establishment, where the activity was taking place.
A number of local media outlets reported the arrests, publishing the men’s names along with their hometowns and their photographs, which has led to claims the men have potentially been smeared and outed.
Speaking to the Miami New Times, a lawyer for one of the men said her client had lost his job in the medical field as a result of the media coverage.
Abbie Cuellar said her client, who PinkNews has chosen not to name, had fled homophobic persecution in Cuba two decades ago and had moved to the US.
The man, one of those arrested, had not come out to his co-workers and was suffering mental health problems as a result of the way the arrests were covered.
“He was persecuted in Cuba because of his sexuality. He was thrown out of his home and thrown out of school because he was gay,” Cuellar told the Miami New Times.
“He fled as a result and thought America was going to be this beacon of ‘freedom.’ He now basically has lost everything he has worked for… He is horribly suicidal.”
Cuellar added that the sexual activity was taking place in private.
“Clearly, this was a private setting within a private setting – you would have to pay to get into it. It’s not in a residential neighbourhood,” she said, adding the men have been made out to be “sexual deviants.”
A police spokesperson told the publication that it was “standard operating procedure for law enforcement agencies to release basic information contained in a police report to the general public.”