Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


Three days after a whirlwind of gossip began circulating in the Davie Village regarding a death there, Constable Tim Fanning, media spokesperson with the Vancouver Police Department has confirmed to this writer that a 33 year old West End male resident was found deceased on the second floor business premises at 1048 Davie Street.

1048 Davie houses the steam-bath F212 which advertises its website, man to man action and play.

On the F212 website, in fact, Play has its own link which directs the viewer to a page dedicated to information on gay male sexuality and safer sex.

According to Nathaniel Christopher,age 26, a freelance reporter with the local gay publication XtraWest, Play is code for, "sexual activities with no strings attached involving men".
Mr. Christopher when asked if he was surprised about the death of a male at F212 said yes because when somebody dies unnecessarily and especially in the prime of their life, this is always a terrible loss.

Mr Christopher who has worked in steam-baths, but not the F212 one, says, "steam-baths can get really hot and on many occasions, I found men passed out due to drug use. Men are routinely smoking rock in their private rooms".

Drug activity isn't new in the gay community and Constable Fanning says that where people gather to have fun, they become targets by those who see an opportunity to aid in that fun.

Gay culture has long had a reputation of being hedonistic.

Many homosexual or bisexual men, feeling themselves isolated, different and being rejected for their variant lifestyle have clandestinely sought out male companionship in dark, deserted and dangerous places.This is often away from the prying eyes of those who find homosexuality repulsive and deviant.

Societal intolerance has an impact on homosexuality and makes gay life difficult for many. There is constant and conflicting esteem issues that gay males routinely face. Intolerance though doesn't only originate from mainstream heterosexual society. Maturing and aging gay males often remark that the community in which they were once revered, sought after and abundantly desired, find in their advancing years that there is no place for them.

Often over-heard is that the gay community has a superficiality to it.

Gay males are bombarded with images and advertising which promotes beautiful, youthful and very buff imagery where good times are bountiful.

Is it any wonder that younger gay males will also encounter tremendous pressure to conform or adapt to certain images. It isn't surprising than that younger gay males have self-image and esteem problems.

Steam-baths advertise these same images of the beautiful, gorgeous hunk and the message is clear. Chances are if you frequent the baths, you will find that hot stud, at least for a fleeting encounter.

Steam-baths are notoriously known as a place where men in skimpy white towels, walk aimlessly through the hallways. These passageways are set out in a maze effect and lined with private rooms, allowing men to cruise other men. Men lay suggestively in their rooms with the door open inviting other men to join them.

Whether these places are meant to provide man to man action on the premises is a question often asked of city officials who license these establishments.

Barb Windsor, associate permits and license inspector for the City of Vancouver, when asked by Oldtown News whether the City is licensing sexual activity in these establishments, responded, " No - bathhouses are not supposed to have sex happening on the premises. We do the odd inspection and have never received anything from the police regarding allegations of sexual activity happening in these places".

Ms Windsor was asked if it was a concern that a death happened on the premises of F212 and she confirmed,"of course it is and I will confer with the police and find out how these premises are operating".

Nathaniel Christopher articulates that "gay men are very lonely and steam-baths provide a vehicle where men desperate for some human, physical contact can have this need met. Drugs are used as a way of reducing their sexual inhibitions".

Loneliness was most likely a contributing factor which led to the still unidentified male to check into F212 on Thursday, April 17, 2008 and ultimately to his demise.

This tragic death has kick-started rambling gossip in the tightly-knit gay community, especially on the squirt message board (a local gay porn site), where posters are claiming that the use of designer drugs may have contributed to the death. A number of these designer drugs are known by the names GHB and Special K.

Both these drugs according to the website, are extremely dangerous. They should not be mixed with other drugs or taken alone since the chances of falling into unconsciousness is significant. GHB and Special K are used also as date rape drugs.

Constable Fanning has confirmed that the police don't suspect foul play, however, their investigation is ongoing and that in all cases of a sudden death, an autopsy will be performed. Mr. Fanning states that toxicology reports can take quite a long time.

Oldtown News spoke with Lloyd Norquay, general Manager at F212 who confirms the death happened on the F212 premises. Mr. Norquay states, " the deceased was known to us and at around 10am, the other male who woke up beside the deceased, alerted the staff saying he thought his friend was dead".

Mr. Norquay citing confidentiality would not release either of the parties names but did say the guest who alerted the staff was from out of town. Mr. Norquay also states, " members sign a waiver that they will not use drugs or alcohol on the premises and this is a way for us to keep the drugs out".

Whether drugs played a role in the tragedy which occurred on April 18, 2008, the autopsy will reveal in due course.

With this tragedy comes an opportunity to address issues raised in this commentary.
It isn't helpful if police, city officials or the business continue to pretend that play or drugs isn't happening in these licensed establishments.

Nathaniel Christopher sums it up well when he says,"when I was six years of age, men were dying in our community of acquired immune deficiency. Here it is 20 years later and why as a community and city we continue to be focused on secrets astound me".

When a community clams up, a person dies alone.

Jamie Lee Hamilton