The Minneapolis bathhouse is a favorite hangout of some of the most popular people in the city.
But it’s also one of the city’s most dangerous places for hookups, according to new research from the American Civil Liberties Union.
“I know a lot of people who have to keep their homes away from the bathhouses because they can get hurt, and there’s a lot going on at the bathhouse,” says Michelle Peeples, a public health lawyer who specializes in health issues for the city of Minneapolis.
“The people who are trying to get into these spaces are usually in their early twenties and thirties and the risk is there.”
Peebles and her team of researchers analyzed data on bathhouse hookups from 2012 to 2018 and found that nearly 60 percent of them involved people who were either intoxicated or inebriated.
“There are a lot more people who end up getting hurt,” Peepps says.
“It’s not a one-off.”
In 2016, the city banned the bath houses from new construction, but the ordinance still allowed the spaces to be open for hookup nights and other events that aren’t covered by a health code.
But that doesn’t mean those events are completely safe, Peeps says.
One recent example was a birthday party where a group of men gathered at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and had a few drinks before heading home.
They were later seen stumbling around in the bathroom.
Peeops says that even though the city has banned those types of events, the police have still been very aggressive.
“They’ve actually arrested people,” she says.
The city has no official statistics for how many people have been hurt at the water park, but Peebies research shows that at least 40 people have reported being in danger.
Pecks says that, at times, she has had to use force to keep people away from her bathhouse.
“Sometimes people can get a little too close,” she said.
“And that’s when you have to do that, you’ve got to keep them from coming in.”
Pecs says that she’s tried to stay out of the public eye, even though she knows some people might be tempted to make fun of her for having to call the police to keep the peace.
But she’s not afraid to share her personal experience with others, even if it means being in the spotlight.
“We all have these jobs,” she explains.
“If you don’t want to be in public life, just don’t do it.”
For Peevs, it’s not about hiding her sexuality.
She says that in a culture that encourages promiscuity, she’s always felt unsafe when she’s out with her friends.
Preeks and her co-author, Sara B. Mathers, say they’re not worried about the health impacts of hooking up at the baths.
“Bathrooms are a public place,” Matherss says.
It’s a public space, she says, where people can come together, but not be judged for their actions.
“People can be open and comfortable with each other, and that’s OK,” M.A.P. says.
Pees and Matherses hope the research will encourage other people to stop thinking of themselves as sexual predators, and to just be themselves.
“You’re not a predator if you’re not having sex,” Maims says.