The Rentboy arrests and the right to be special

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On August 21, law enforcement raided the headquarters of an online site called Rentboy.com.

Federal agents raided the Manhattan headquarters of Rentboy.com as part of a state prostitution investigation Tuesday, authorities said.

Seven people, including CEO Jeffrey Hurant, were arrested as part of the raid at the Rentboy.com offices on 14th Street and Fifth Avenue. Department of Homeland Security agents and members of the NYPD, which assisted in the raid, were seen removing boxes from the offices Tuesday.

Law enforcement sources had initially told NBC 4 New York the suspects faced money laundering in addition to prostitition charges, but money laundering was not included in the official criminal complaint.

Rentboy billed itself as a brokerage service:

Rentboy.com is not an escort agency. We are an ad listing service for male escorts, where men place their own ads and work for themselves, so that clients can contact them directly. Our mission is to create a non-judgmental space where anyone curious about exploring male-male companionship can hire a man by the hour.

Mmmm-kay.

This was pretty unremarkable. An ambitious district attorney decided to make some flashy headlines for themselves by arresting people who were pretty much minding their own business. But, when real crime is extinct, law enforcement has to do something to fill those long lonely hours on the job. This is the flipside to what the utterly bonkers Cook County Sheriff, Thomas Dart, has done to Backpage.com. (Upfront let me say that even though I am a fairly conservative Catholic and opposed to prostitution, I am opposed to laws criminalizing prostitution. These laws have done little to nothing to reduce the number of people in the sex trade but they have made prostitutes vulnerable to coercion and abuse by criminals and, more importantly, by law enforcement. But that is a subject for a different day.)

What the aftermath of this episode has done, however, has pulled back the mask of the homosexual agenda a bit.

We’re written extensively here on RedState about how the real agenda of homosexual activists is not just to be able to live their lives unmolested. Rather, they demand that their particular perversion be given pride of place in the public square. It isn’t enough that they can get ‘married’, but everyone has to go along with the charade or be punished.

For instance, The New York Times:

For some gay activists, it had shades of bathhouse raids and gay-bar roundups from decades ago. On Tuesday, federal authorities burst into the Union Square office of the gay-escort website Rentboy.com and arrested the chief executive and several employees on prostitution charges.


“To many in our community this feels like a throwback to when the police raided gay bars in the ’50s and ’60s,” Justin Vivian Bond, a performer and an activist who is transgender, wrote in an email. “This invasion of a consensual hookup site which is run for and by members of the L.G.B.T. community feels like a real slap in the face after gentrification and the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations drove so many gay bars out of business and forced people to meet online instead of in person,” the activist added, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Danny Cruz said he had posted ads on Rentboy “to supplement income” for about seven years, starting when he moved to New York. He said he had talked regularly to the executives who were arrested, both about his business and about staying safe.

“I don’t see why the government would be interested in what two people do behind closed doors,” Mr. Cruz, who is now involved in the Sex Workers Outreach Project in Los Angeles, said.

The Huffington Post:

Rentboy offered a safe space for men to be sexy and make a living being desirable.

When I heard about what happened this week, I was sad and distraught hearing that my friends and coworkers were arrested and being humiliated.

This raid happened because of money and fear. The Feds want the money that Rentboy has. And fear is a factor because groups who are politically weak are looking for ways to make themselves look better by targeting vulnerable people.

What this event means for gay escorts is that they have the option to come out and campaign for the decriminalization and legitimizing of sex work for sex workers, and removing the stigma and secrecy from being in the adult industry.

The Wall Street Journal:

Gay-rights and civil-liberties groups stepped up criticism Thursday of federal prosecutors who filed charges against employees of an online male-escort service, saying the authorities unfairly targeted a vulnerable community that uses the Internet to arrange consensual sexual encounters.

Chase Strangio, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, said he shared protesters’ criticism of the case, adding that it highlighted broader policy concerns about prosecuting sex work.

“There is a clear effort to crack down on different online platforms where people advertise various services related to sex,” Mr. Strangio said. “We actually know [the platforms] create safer spaces for people to negotiate in bargaining and other safety needs.”

I invite you to look for homosexual activists demonstrating against the arrests of heterosexuals for running a prostitution business. You won’t find it.

The far left site Truth Out has the clearest insight on what is going on here:

The five groups that are calling for decriminalization said they were looking forward to working with sex workers and sex worker advocates on the issue, but some activists remain skeptical that mainstream groups like GLAD and Lambda Legal are really committed to standing with sex workers.

“It’s not in their DNA to actually take up a cause like this,” said Yasmin Nair, a writer and activist with Against Equality, an editorial collective that is critical of the mainstream LGBT movement.

Radical queer thinkers have long criticized big LGBT groups for focusing so much of their time and financial resources on legalizing same-sex marriage and advocating access to the military. Marriage equality attracted millions in fundraising dollars and built political clout in Washington but tends to impact middle- and upper-class people who wish to pool their resources, not LGBTQ people who may be more immediately impacted by employment discrimination or police profiling. Plus, both marriage and the military are traditionally straight institutions that some queer people see as inherently capitalist and oppressive in the first place.

Longstanding issues that impact more marginalized people in LGBT and queer communities, such as sex work, youth homelessness and the epidemic of violence against transgender woman, are only now becoming priorities. These issues have little to do with values like monogamy and national pride, which made marriage equality and military visibility attractive to the cultural mainstream, and Nair suspects the LGBT groups may only be paying them lip service.

While libertarians are all lathered up over this, they lose sight that the real agenda in defending Rentboy is not defending the right of consenting adults to do what they want. It is about creating a legal regime where homosexuals not only have a protected status as a “suspect class.” As part of that definition they wish to require the law to embrace the sexual mores associated with the homosexual lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong. I admire the chutzpah which is worthy of anything you saw in the Jim Crow South justifying “separate but equal”.

But, as Truth Out indirectly explains, the push to inject homosexuals into the military and to legitimize homosexual marriage was all just public relations eyewash to appeal to the visible and politically palatable middle-class, bourgeois, some might say, homosexuals. The real agenda is legitimizing sexual licentiousness as homosexual right.

Nice work if you can get it.