In 1962, two young girls were found dead near a creek in Mansfield, Ohio. While questioning the killer, police learned that there was a restroom nearby where men meet for sex. Such restrooms have been in the public eye from time to time — remember Larry Craig? “Tearooms,” as they’re called, were probably more popular in the 1950s and 1960s, when there were few other venues for willing partners to meet. Where else were they going to go? The non-existent gay bar? Craigslist? In 1962, even large, cosmopolitan cities had serious and frightening prohibitions against homosexuality, or even the appearance of same. You couldn’t sell alcohol to an effeminate man in New York, for example, without running the risk of having your bar raided. A small town like Mansfield can be assumed to be less liberal than that.

So the Mansfield police, with the help of the Highway Safety Foundation, set up cameras in the tearoom, and waited.

You can watch the video here. Obviously NSFW:

I’d prefer to find a different link to this video — one where it’s not embedded within the advertising and marketing for industrial porn. I looked. This is the only place where it appears to be online. While there’s a lot of sex here, and good-looking guys, this video is not porn; it is too sad to be porn.

Blogger David Herkt sums up the pathos:

The movie also documents a straight-laced America of button-up shirts, horn-rimmed glasses and ubiquitous cigarettes where fleeting moments of sexual expression can be experienced in hidden places but within a context of fear. Even during the sex-acts, the eyes of these men are often focused on the restroom doors and the possibility of an intrusion that could mean arrest and imprisonment. There is an urgency of need for contact that overcomes the weight of law and self but cannot quite overcome the awareness of possible consequences.

There is also a poignancy as each of the men is observed – smoking, washing hands, straightening attire in a mirror, involved in brief sexual contact, wiping semen from the floor – because, for them, these moments mark their last instants of freedom from restraint by the state or confinement in a treatment facility.

Each of the men filmed was found guilty under the State of Ohio’s sodomy law and sentenced to between one and twenty years imprisonment or confinment in a State Hospital as a ‘psycopath’. The film is a litany of destroyed lives, families and careers.

Joe and I don’t live terribly far from Mansfield, Ohio. I mean: it would be a roadtrip, but make-able in a day. We’ve thought about driving up. A pilgrimage, if you will. The only thing that’s holding us back is not knowing whether the restroom in question (reports say that it was directly underneath the town square) is still there.

Anybody know?