Well, this is pretty disappointing. Yesterday, the founder and CEO of the online gay escort website Rentboy.com was indicted by prosecutors on chargers of promoting prostitution and money laundering, according to the New York Daily News. Sigh.
As you probably recall, Jeffrey Hurant and six employees were arrested last summer on a criminal complaint, which in turn sparked widespread outrage mainly from the LGBT communities and a demonstration by gay and sex-work activists outside the Brooklyn federal courthouse.
The New York Times recently noted that Rentboy.com “provided sex workers with a safer alternative to street walking or relying on pimps,” and “Federal authorities should consider whether continuing to spend time and money turning the website’s operators into felons is worthwhile, while far more serious crimes, including human trafficking and sexual exploitation, go unpunished.”
Essentially, it’s very curious why this subject revolving around a website that operated in plain sight for nearly two decades suddenly became such a high priority for the Department of Homeland Security and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn. The most disappointing part of this is that gay men in the U.S. may turn to sex work for a variety of reasons, and quite possibly could mean the difference between sleeping on a bed and sleeping on the street. For others, it is perhaps a way to afford a degree.