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False promises at the Y

Timothy Kincaid

March 20th, 2012

Like all of us, at some point Michael Keister has heard the following words of advice

It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A
They have everything for young men to enjoy
You can hang out with all the boys

It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
You can get yourself clean you can have a good meal
You can do whatever you feel

And Keister took these words to heart. He also, it seems, believed that the YMCA is a “place that champions Christian values, such as decency, kindness, and fairness.” So Keister dragged his keister down to the local Y and signed up for gym membership and the associated shower, steam room, and sauna privileges.

But much to Keister’s dismay, he soon became subjected to unwanted attention. First there was one guy soaping up another in the open showers. And then there was the guy in the steamroom who showed Keister his erection and – apparently believing that he received some form of encouragement – proceeded to masturbate.

But the most disturbing incident is reported as follows: (Courthouse News)

“A short time later, after a workout, Keister entered the sauna. No one else was in the sauna when Keister entered.
“Soon, another man entered the sauna and sat down while Keister was reading a newspaper.
“Suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, the man reached over and firmly grabbed Keister’s penis, yanking on it, and would not let it go.
“Shocked, Keister grabbed the man’s arm, pried the man’s hand off his penis and yelled in disbelief.
“The man ran out of the sauna.
“Still in shock from what happened, Keister tried to collect himself and chase after the man. He went into the dressing area but could not locate him.”

The failure to locate the man must have been most disappointing.

And for Keister this was a turning point. He began to wonder whether it was safe to bring his 3-year-old son to the YMCA. (Let me briefly interject into this tale to offer some advice: If you are considering bringing a 3-year-old onto a gym floor, into a steam room, or into a sauna, DON’T! This is a serious health risk to children. Now back to our story.) He began to think that when he went to the Y, he should leave his family at home.

And when the next time Keister was at the gym some man propositioned him for a date on New Years Eve, he finally connected the pieces. And he’s so upset that he – and his wife, of course – are suing the Y.

It seems that Keister has realized that the ads which he read in Craigslist and the instructions in Cruising Gays are not just fictional erotica but that some men (most often those who are heterosexually married) actually hook up at such places. And Keister is (unknowingly) encouraging such men to approach him.

Fundamentally, members, such as plaintiffs, and their families cannot engage in routine lavatory behavior at YMCAs without ‘cruising’ men assuming they are signaling a desire for sex. Patrons are unknowingly answering ‘yes’ to solicitations for sexual interaction with strangers while being oblivious to the fact that the question is being posed to them. Its patrons thus are the unwitting targets and victims of sexual crimes, such as the ones suffered by plaintiff’s keister plaintiff Keister. [I apologize for the typo]

According to the news report, “the Keisters seek class certification, restitution, and compensatory and punitive damages for violations of the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract.” It would seem that contrary to promise, Mr. Keister indeed did NOT have everything for young men to enjoy, hang out with all the boys, or do whatever you feel.

Comments

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Lucrece
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

It’s amusing how much more scandalous men get when they’re subjected to the same practices they happily aim at women.

scyllacat
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

I see Lucrece already got here. My first thought was about the times I’ve been propositioned by and shown the penis of males I was not interested in, without knowing how I had encouraged them. Perhaps Mr. Keister’s experience can be an education for us all.

Dante
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

I’m a gay man who has been hit on by women, some in low cut tops or see through blouses, or tight detail revealing spandex or nylon garments – attention I do not seek – at the gym, in grocery stores, malls, on the bus, in the elevator of a business building –

can I sue too?

Since his wife is involved – it all seems a bit fishy.

Richard Rush
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Do you suppose that the plaintiff had been introducing himself to other members (of the Y) via the line, “Hi there, my name is Mister Keister?” Butt here’s the bottom line: Can anyone really fault a vigorous randy gay man who’s at the top of his game for interpreting that introduction as a back-door invitation?

On another note, maybe this episode was staged as a deliberate set-up for the purpose of generating a lawsuit. The whole thing smells fishy from top to bottom.

Tone
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

This sounds pretty farfetched to me. I’ve been a member of three different YMCA’s over the years and nothing like this has ever happened to me. Maybe I’m just such a troll nobody can be bothered, dunno. I’ve never picked up on anything untoward going on (or in, as the case may be) at the Y anyway and I’ve been a member for twenty years.

As for someone uninvited grabbing his kajigger, that’s a crime where I come from and it ought to be investigated as such. Although airport security somehow gets away with it…

Even if there are doings a happening it speaks more to the level of oppression that gay men face. Cruising is an artifact of homophobia, when it was literally impossible to meet in public and we were forced to live our lives in the shadows of polite society. I’m sure there are still multitudes of fearful closet cases doing it in every public park where they can get away with it.

Get rid of homophobia and the problem will disappear I bet.

Priya Lynn
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

I agree Tone.

PJB863
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

So the bottom line is that Mr. Keister might end up making an ass of himself!

StraightGrandmother
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

I fully support the lawsuit. Dante, have you ever been propositioned while in a state of undress?

It is disgusting when gay men have sex in our public parks and yes at our public YMCA’s. I have news for Timothy, I have a 3 Year Old grandson and he SHOULD be able to be safe at the YMCA. Go rent a hotel room like cheating heterosexuals do.

I would also object if a bunch of heterosexual hookers took over the YMCA doing tricks in the sauna. It is absolutly NOT acceptable to pollute our public parks and YMCA’s with sexual activities, gay or straight. These are places for our CHILDREN. The first letter in YMCA is “Young” after all.

Lucrece
March 21st, 2012 | LINK

Sex is not a pollutant. Your precious children wouldn’t be here if sex were such an unspeakable horror. They came out of the same orifice your husband vigorously thrusted in.

Palmer
March 21st, 2012 | LINK

Sorry, Straight Grandmother, but the second word is MAN. Most gay men have enough brains to stop screwing around if a child shows up. The bathhouses used to take care of this problem, but I don’t think there are that many around anymore, and closet cases (the REAL problem here) don’t dare be seen going into the few that are left.

liquid
March 21st, 2012 | LINK

StraightGrandmother,
I’m pretty sure the health risks Timothy warns about at gyms and saunas are caused by the nature of the environment itself, and not any potential sex happening there. Heck, the health club i use to be a member of didn’t let anyone under 18 onto the gym floor or into the sauna-it was considered much too dangerous to have children playing around potentially life threatening equipment. I’m sure there is much more of a risk of your 3 year old nephew being crushed under a stack of weights or overheating in a sauna then ever encountering any hanky-panky, gay or straight

Stairway Wit
March 21st, 2012 | LINK

The Onion beat this story by a good fourteen years (!)

Allen
March 21st, 2012 | LINK

I’d like to add my voice to the chorus of those who think this story is hard to believe. I’m a YMCA member, and have been regularly going to three different YMCAs in my city at different times of day for several years.

I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but I’ve never seen anything even resembling inappropriate behavior. Heck, I’ve never even been asked out on a date. You’d think most of the people there were only interested in exercising.

Furthermore there are notices up that any inappropriate behavior could result in immediate loss of membership. If Mr. Keister really had the experiences he claims it could have been fairly easy to find the offending members (no pun intended) and report them.

Donny D.
March 21st, 2012 | LINK

I don’t have a problem with the idea of public sex but there are times and places where it’s appropriate and others where it isn’t. I don’t think anyone who doesn’t want a cruisy or sexual environment should have to deal with it at a gym that’s intended for a broad and general membership like the Y.

That said, this straight man seems to have run into a whole lot of stuff in a short time. I’m suspicious that all or any of this happened the way he said it did.

Don
March 21st, 2012 | LINK

I’m also skeptical of the story: this guy is describing behavior more typical of a bathhouse than a YMCA. It sounds to me like an attempt to slander the gay community.

That said, I think Timothy is WAY off base implying that the guy should have known what he was getting himself into by joining the Y in the first place, and that he should apparently just get over himself if guys are hitting on him or having sex. That’s outrageous. There was a similar story involving David Barton Gym in NYC about 6 years ago, where a straight man sued for a refund of his membership fee because of the sex going on in the locker room. DBG for the record is THE gay gym in Chelsea, but it’s still a gym, not a bathhouse. Gay or straight, everyone has the right to get what he pays for in the use of a gym, and not be subjected to sexual activity that wasn’t part of the membership contract.

Blake
March 21st, 2012 | LINK

I’m curious as to why he didn’t get the police involved in some of these incidents. If the facts are as he described them I’m pretty sure the next logical step is to call the cops; even if the guy got away.

Priya Lynn
March 21st, 2012 | LINK

I’m with Blake, it seems pretty far fetched that this happened to the guy and he didn’t call the police or attempt to have anything done about it.

Bill Herrmann
March 21st, 2012 | LINK

This “happened” in North Carloina. North Carolina has an anti-gay marriage amendment on the ballot in the upcoming May primary. Connect the dots. This is a total fabrication, a set up, to provide an “incident” for the anti-gay side to trumpet. It will all disappear after the primary.

Blake
March 21st, 2012 | LINK

Regardless of whateverelse happened or didn’t the allegation of sexual assault is a serious one. & if the Y did not take previous sexual assaults seriously (provided they existed) they may be found liable. The other claims are laughable.

Clearly the lawyers are going for maximum press exposure by trying to expand this into a class action. Such an action certainly casts the motivations of the firm in a suspicious light, but that shouldn’t cast doubt on Keister. He may be a dupe being used for political purposes but sexual assault is still serious & he was assaulted according to the facts he gave. Another case to follow to see how it all shakes out.

Timothy Kincaid
March 21st, 2012 | LINK

SG,

I have news for you. No 3 year old is safe on a gym floor, in a sauna, or in a steamroom, be it at the Y or anywhere else.

I don’t care whether heterosexual hookers are doing tricks in the sauna or not. DO NOT bring your three year old grandson into a sauna, steamroom, or gym floor. In fact, unless they have facilities specifically designed for toddler care, don’t bring your 3 year old grandson to the gym at all.

It isn’t safe and it is a tremendous imposition on those who are trying to work out. If I saw a three year old on the gym floor I would stop my routine immediately – as would all those who regularly work out. We know that it’s dangerous enough with adults.

Theo
March 22nd, 2012 | LINK

I’m with StraightGrandmother. This conduct, if it took place, is clearly wrong. Timothy, there is an allegation here of a sexual assault. I wouldn’t treat it so lightly. I’m gay, but if someone came up to me and grabbed my penis without my permission, I’d consider it a criminal matter.

Separate issues are whether these events actually happened as alleged and whether the Y should be liable to any degree. The first issue is a matter of proof for the plaintiff and the latter is a matter of law. I tend to think that the allegations are probably exaggerated and that liability probably does not attach under these circumstances. But that really doesn’t justify the rather breezy tone of this post or the majority of the replies.

Shaed
March 22nd, 2012 | LINK

I’m with everybody. The story seems farfetched, but sexual assault is never remotely excusable or funny.

The victim does not seem to have gone through proper channels, though, such as reporting the assault to the company and the police, so I don’t see this suit going anywhere.

Peter D'Angelo
March 23rd, 2012 | LINK

So lemme get this right Tim…a man can’t be a member of anything that has to do with steam or water because those are havens for gay men who can’t keep their hands off you…is that right Tim?

It’s the YMCA, not a gay bar, or a gay bath house.

Michael Keister, me or anyone else for that matter has every right to go to the steam room or the locker room or the sauna without being assaulted. If you think that’s funny or a problem then you friend have the problem and not Michael Keister.

I am gay and I have to add, thanks to the grabber for making us all look like mental case perverts who can’t behave in an appropriate manner. Great job you fool…

Timothy Kincaid
March 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Pete,

I didn’t say you should be groped. But taking this story at face value requires more suspension of disbelief than your average sci-fi thriller.

Picture it: he’s reading a newspaper which presumably is taking up some portion of his lap alone in a sauna. Suddenly someone has seated them self within a foot or two without his notice. That person then somehow maneuvers past his paper and gets such a firm grip on his penis that his hand has to be pried off.

I’ve not conducted any definitive study on the graspability of penes, but I think that shared wisdom would agree that getting a firm grip on a flaccid penis – without including any accompanying matters – is seldom a feat easily accomplished on a seated man while negotiating a newspaper, all without his awareness, and presumably without any ease of access minded grooming.

On the other hand, Mr. Keister’s offended member may have in some way isolated itself from its surrounding environment and represented itself as the sort of object that is graspable in such a manner as to require a hand to be “pried off”.

Which does not mean that Mr. Keister should be assaulted, but it might cause one to ponder whether his shock and surprise originated more in the telling of the story to his wife than it did at the moment. Or he reads significantly more stimulating newspapers than I do.

Or it could be the case that Mr. Keister is the sort of fellow who has outside the norm proportions. But it’s unlikely that he would have gotten to his age without someone at some point saying, “my god, what IS that?” in which case he has an entirely different complaint from the one he filed.

In other words, either Mr. Keister’s flaccid penis is quite the astonishing member or this is all a bit too “that’s what the homosexuals do” for me to take seriously.

Palmer
March 23rd, 2012 | LINK

It smells to me like a “wide-stance” justification.

zoom
August 21st, 2012 | LINK

Why is Mike wound up about “christian values? Mike is Jewish.

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