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Sex party bust in Redford brings up question of police ethics, journalistic integrity

By | 2018-01-16T16:54:21-05:00 April 12th, 2009|Uncategorized|

Male action parties
Naked or underwear
You 18-55, decent shape, uninhibited.
Saturday evening parties in Redford.
Call Steve
The inconspicuous ad has run in Metra and other such magazines for years without attracting much attention other than from those interested in attending such a party. But just two weeks after mainstream weekly Metro Times did a feature on this party – citing health concerns – it was raided.
According to the Triangle Foundation, at least a dozen men who were at the party in the wee hours of Sunday, Nov. 28 and had their car impounded by the Redford Police have come forward seeking assistance. This unfortunate chain of events is causing some in the LGBT community to wonder if Metro Times is interested in printing LGBT news, or if it’s actually trying to create it?
W. Kim Heron, Metro Times’ longtime managing editor, defended the story to Between The Lines.
“We had an intern who was enthusiastic about doing it, Anthony Bevin, and I guess it was on the radar screen for a long time and finally we said it’s a significant issue,” said Heron. “It’s a public health issue.”
The Metro Times story identified the location of the party as on a “quiet residential street in Redford.” It also lists detailed information about what goes on at the party and where in the house the action happens. It also quoted two individuals who have attended the party – using their first names only – indicating that Bevin possibly attended the party undercover.
While Triangle Foundation Executive Director Jeffery Montgomery and local psychotherapist and author Joe Kort – two sources who were both interviewed for the Metro Times piece – say they had no idea the paper planned to mention Redford, specifically, Heron stands by the paper’s decision to do so.
“We discussed at various times how much identification to give,” he said. “We certainly could have included a great deal more info, what side of town it was or what street, and there was a discussion about that. The story went through about three or four different editors. That seemed to be enough detail to say, ‘Hey, this is real place. It’s not something fictitious.'”
Heron also says that Metro Times is not responsible for the raid.
“We were under the distinct impression that it was well on the radar screen of neighbors and the authorities before [our story ran],” he said.
But Montgomery is unwilling to dismiss the possibility that the story played a part in the timing of the raid.
“This party has been going on for 10 years and from conversations we’ve had with people very close to this party it’s clear that this party has been known about for most of that time,” he said. “There’s never been an incident at this party that’s brought in any police action besides possibly some parking problems. So this party has hardly been an underground event.”
Montgomery said Metro Times’ credibility comes into play because, historically, their coverage of the LGBT community has been sparse. The last story he recalls reading, he said, was a cover feature on gay bathhouses.
“They seem to have an obsession over there with gay bathhouses and sex parties,” he said.
Heron, however, says that is not true.
“I think both of those stories were valid in and of themselves,” he said. “I don’t think we think of the community as only gay sex and bathhouses. We did another good story on the recent proposal issue. I thought it was a good piece on the possible ramifications of the proposal. Jack Lessenberry has weighed in on issues that were not bathhouses or sex-act related. We also did a story on the Ruth Ellis Center. If there’s any perception that that’s the only way gays are seen [in our paper] that’s unfortunate. We put out a magazine every week and try to put out good stuff in it.”
Montgomery also said he believes that the passage of Proposal 2, the measure Heron spoke of, plays a part in all of this and cautions gays to beware.
“There’s this greater atmosphere of people in positions like police agencies feeling that this is a good time to harass, intimidate and mess with gay people,” he said. “I think [the willingness to harass is the result of] the campaign and the result of the Proposal 2 deal and all of the talk about this election being ridiculously used an as example that somehow people have found moral values again. In a sex-panicked atmosphere, moral values are almost always translated to anti-gay.”
Kort agreed.
“I do think that there are police who are waiting to jump on us as gay men and giving them any reason to do so is setting ourselves up,” he said.
For now, the Triangle Foundation is urging anyone who may have been at the Redford party during the Nov. 28 bust to contact them immediately.
“We are compiling a long list of questionable practices that we believe are connected to this whole escapade on the part of the Redford police,” he said. “Some significant issues have been raised by this operation. We still need to hear from anyone who was there. At this point we’ve been in contact with maybe 12-15 of those men. If other people were there and have not contacted us, we really encourage them to do so, whether they’ve adjudicated their car problem or not.”

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University before joining Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. Jason has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author having written the authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," which he released on his own JAM Books imprint.