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It’s a little after 1 a.m., and while traveling northbound on Leimert Boulevard in the Crenshaw District, I turn onto 43rd Street and pass a bus bench where an elderly African American woman in a red stocking cap is seated and wrapped in old blankets.

According to 25-year-old Jonathan Cathy, she is sitting within a “gay stroll” where White males pay for sex. Cathy points to her and explains, “That’s ‘moma.’ We take care of her when we can.” When asked how, Cathy said he and others buy her food from a nearby McDonald’s and provide her with cold water.

As we observe “moma,” two young African American males suddenly appear across the street from her with one heading west toward Crenshaw Boulevard, and the other east to Leimert Boulevard. We turn right onto Degnan Avenue and the two men in skinny jeans slow their pace and turn around abruptly. One an backpack adorned with a black-and-white checkered pattern accented with pink blotches.

The ‘gay stroll’

Cathy said the backpack likely holds lubricants and oils and a selection of Jockey shorts. As we drive by one of the individuals whistles while looking straight ahead ignoring our presence. Cathy said the whistle was likely a signal that he is available for sex.

The local gay stroll, Cathy said, is a desirable fetish among the White gay culture where Black men in the LBGT community are identified as a “BBC” or “big Black ck.” He explained that many White gay men are attracted to Black gay prostitutes, “and if you ask them why they’ll say ‘I like your music…your swag…your BBC.’”

“Most of us know it is an attraction based upon a gay White for Black sex workers,” Cathy said. “White male gays seeing us as animals, a ‘Mandigo,’ that turns them on. However, we are not accepted into their social world. We are only sex workers.”

When asked if he was familiar with the “Tuskegee fetish experiment,” he said neither he nor his gay friends have heard the term. “But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist,” he said.

Cathy went on. He services gay White clientele because “they pay well and are not violent..they don’t beat you.” Cathy believes he has made an average of $200 to $300 dollars per “John,” and on a few occasions has made in excess of $1,500 in one encounter. Sometimes as much as one-third of this cash is given to someone who introduced the two sex partners. He’s not a pimp, Cathy noted. “I do not have a pimp.”

Sex for money and drugs

Cathy said Black clients only want to pay “100 or so” and that sometimes, if they’re 20-somethings, he can convince them to shell out as much as $150. The older Black men will offer $40, but these persons are often violent. He was beaten once for requesting his “date” use a condom. When asked “What is ‘old’”? Cathy said 40 years is the cut-off point.

“The White guys pay on average between $300 to $500 dollars. If you look at the sex trade women get paid more, in the inner city, your body is worth pennies.”

Cathy spoke of the case of Gemmell Moore, whose July death has sparked city-wide discussion both in and out of the LBGT community about Black and White gay sex games.

“Moore was associated with Ed Buck (a well-known southland contributor to the Democratic party’ because of his wealth,” Cathy said. “It’s like having a relationship with a ‘down-low’ NFL player.” Cathy said he intimately knows some of the latter individuals.

Secrets of Leimert Park

Research shows Leimert Park has had an (underground) gay culture since the 1970s. He recalled a news story about Kamu Daáood a performance poet, educator and community arts activist who is widely acknowledged as a major driving force behind Los Angeles’ Black cultural renaissance. A Los Angeles Magazine article described how Daáood would wake up each morning in Leimert Park and sweep dozens of condoms away from his front door which, essentially, opened to a gay cruising spot beginning at Leimert Boulevard and encompassing 43rd Street.

According to residents in the area, the gay stroll begins at Leimert Boulevard near 43rd Street and is intersected by Creed and Degnan avenues, and Edgehill Drive. Residents have complained about the sex trade taking place regularly in the nearby alleys.

Cathy said the use of crystal meth by gay Black men frequenting the stroll was simply based on financial needs. “You do what you have to do in order to survive,” he said, adding that the addiction often becomes part of your life because “you’re not happy with your lifestyle.”

“I believe crystal meth is the drug of choice for gay Black men because you forget who you are,” he explained. “It blends with your body’s dopamine and enhances pleasure. It lowers your inhibitions. You are energized and want to have more sex, which unfortunately increases your chance of getting AIDS.”

Nina T. Harawa, assistant professor with the Charles Drew University of Science and Medicine in Watts, conducted a study in 2006 on “Sexual Behavior, Sexual Identity, and Substance Abuse” primarily focusing on low-income bisexual and non-gay identified Black men who may have a same-sex partner. The study found that alcohol, crack cocaine and crystal meth were the primary drugs mentioned by the study participants. The study found that drug use played a central role in random same-sex encounters among Black men.

Sexual behavior and identity

The participants described alcohol use, drug transactions/usage and addiction as the motivating factor for same-sex encounters. Harawa said many of the participants rationalized same-sex activity and unprotected sex as facilitating access to male sex partners. Some of those in treatment for substance abuse indicated a readiness to admit the inherent dangers of random, unprotected sex and began to come to terms with their past life.

Jackie Gatlin, a certified drug counselor in Santa Monica, said crystal meth lowers sexual inhibitions…and is very dangerous. Crystal meth, she said, is most associated with “chemsex” or men have sex together while inhaling or injecting (“slamming”) three principal narcotics: crystal methamphetamine (sometimes called “Tina”), GHB (gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid) and mephedrone. Combining these drugs, she said, is nothing new but taken with other substances and the subsequent reaction to the nervous system has given rise to a secret world that often takes the lives of persons like Gemmel Moore.

Chemsex can involve two men at a private home, an alley in Leimert Park, or with a group of individuals at clubs or, more commonly, at house parties. The meetings are often arranged on websites or “hookup” apps, which drug dealers also use to sell their product(s). This method, according to Gatlin, brings strangers together and these sexual rendezvous may last for hours at a time-even days-because inhibitions and defenses evaporate.

Cathy was once addicted to crystal meth, but has long-since stopped using. He decided to get out of the gay sex trade prior to his 25th birthday for fear of certain death either from a drug overdose or a sexually transmitted disease.

Politics and race converge over West Hollywood meth death

By Gregg Reese

OW Contributor

Although the United States was founded on the premise of equality, the course of its history is a testament to our inability to live up to that utopian ideal (even so, the documented evidence of our continued struggle to achieve this may be a signpost of American Exceptionalism).

The recent death of African American Gemmel Moore is a grim reminder that hierarchy and social status are a staple, even among the marginalized segments of our public. Moore, aged 26, was found in the West Hollywood condominium of prominent computer tycoon and Democratic fundraiser Ed Buck on July 27. Initial reports had him expiring from an overdose of methamphetamines (aka ‘crystal,’ ‘meth,’ or ‘T’ for ‘Tina’ on the street), a drug popular in the city and gay subculture locally and across the country.

Who was Gemmel Moore?

The young man was reportedly a sex worker since becoming unemployed, and one of several individuals employed in this capacity by Buck, who allegedly has a ‘fetish’ (a sexually based fixation) on young Black men who engage in the consumption of this narcotic.

A random search on the Internet reveals provocative images of Black men clad in white underwear along with Buck (who presumably took the photos). Presently the Los Angeles Sheriff’s substation that services the area is undergoing investigations in these proceedings after enduring criticism for their lackadaisical pursuit of the case. The process was accelerated, according to Sheriff Jim McDonnell, because of allegations emerging since the L.A. Coroner’s Office officially closed the case.

LGBT logistical ‘divide’

Local news crews captured another young Black being turned away from Buck’s apartment as Moore’s body was being removed, implying he was just another trafficker who arrived at an inopportune moment (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y915T1sIFEA).

Especially troubling are allegations by another man who claims Buck solicited him on the gay dating site “Adam4Adam” for a Sept. 11 encounter—well after Moore’s death.

The events have also raised the issue of racism within the gay community and West Hollywood specifically.

A Pasadena native who identifies as lesbian, “Limya” worked at a gay advocacy facility in West Hollywood for several years, and thusly has insight on the disparity between the races that frequent the area, regardless of sexual orientation.

Limya points out that La Brea Boulevard is as much a racial division in the city as the Mason-Dixon line was for freedom and slavery states in the America of a bygone era.

Exploits of Ed Buck

“Gay White men get away with everything,” she states flatly.

This is especially true of older, affluent men she likens to be the gender reversed equivalent of middle-aged “cougars,” (women who go out specifically seeking young, virile men to exploit sexually). For them, West Hollywood is a predatory heaven in which they can exploit youths of color with impunity. The impoverished youngsters they employ for their gratification enjoy no such exemptions, however.

Limya and other interested parties attended a public hearing on the police and relations with the LGBTQ community at L.A. Trade Tech College on Sat. Sept 23, where the Moore tragedy was a central topic.

In Buck’s scenario, it appears that he is selective about patronizing Black men solely for his personal carnal pursuits, while reserving his professional and political interactions for White and Hispanic individuals.

Lindsey Horvath, alone among City Council members, asked for a thorough investigation into Moore’s death and Buck’s alleged involvement in it. She also is the only council member who has not benefited from Buck’s financial donations. She and Buck share a further extended history, as he ran (unsuccessfully) for a City Council seat in 2007. Later, when Horvath mounted her own (victorious) campaign for a council seat in 2015, Buck opposed and campaigned against her.

Seymour Amster, in turn, has called for a grand jury investigation against Horvath.

Straight Angelenos of color (and of a certain age) might remember the exclusionary admittance policies of Chippendales and other West Hollywood night spots, where undesirables would be subjected to requirements of multiple pieces of identification and stringent dress codes to get past the doorman. Similar guidelines were implemented at their gay counterparts, including the legendary Studio One.

Today, the quest for sexual fulfillment has transcended the brick-and-mortar establishments of yore, with cyber hubs like the previously mentioned Adam4Adam and Grindr serving as conduits for erotic connections.

In the new millennium, the traditions of Jim Crow are in place as well.