Although homophobia and prejudices towards the LGBTQ community are still present across the globe, it’s safe to say the social climate in most western societies is different. Sure, there are still bigots of all kinds, but gay rights are far better than before. Queers have it a lot easier than their elders just a couple of decades ago.
But to understand the difference, we need to go back in time to the late ‘60s. Back then, homosexuality was still illegal, and gay guys would either go to jail for expressing their feelings or get beaten up on the street. This danger meant that they had to find hiding places to enjoy their private lives.
Most gays would either go to bars, saunas, or cruise for sex, concealing themselves from the public eye. Unfortunately, this meant constant raids by the authorities. In 1969, one seemingly ordinary police intervention turned out to be too much for the LGBTQ community to take. We’re talking about the Stonewall riots that paved the way for the first gay parade and public approval of homosexuality.
But, before the incident, guys looking for casual gay sex would usually go cruising around town, looking for a partner. The term was a code, helping them hide their intentions from others who would harm them. The term is still in use, although hetero people use it too. So, let’s check what the term means exactly, and how to go about it if you’re looking for a one-night stand.
What in the World Does ‘Cruising’ Mean?
Cruising rose to popularity in the Western gay community. In essence, it means going out to look for someone to have sex with. It’s a code, meant to provide security for gay people in case they’re in the company of someone they don’t trust. It’s also worth noting that the term was and still is in use in Britain where it doesn’t have gay connotations, meaning that straight guys use it too.
In most cases, cruising happens at certain places, for example, restrooms, parks, parking lots, etc. It’s more like hiding in plain sight, meaning no one can suspect what you’re doing. An interesting phenomenon is that guys who go cruising are often closet gay men that live a regular life. They’re not going to gay bars or saunas since they don’t want others to see them there.
Cruising is often unsafe since no one can guarantee your safety while doing it, unlike in bars or other socially acceptable places. Experienced cruisers consider it looking for a one-night stand. It’s somewhat similar to hooking up with a prostitute.
Over the years, the cruising culture became a part of various pop-culture outlets, such as films, TV-shows, and even music. One of the most famous films that depict the culture is William Friedkin’s cult-classic “Cruising,” starring Al Pacino in the lead role. Although the film is a serial killer crime drama, the film shows how unsafe “cruise travel” was back in ‘70s New York.
How to Know If the Other Guy Is Cruising for You
Since the LGBTQ community had it so bad in the past, they had to find a way to communicate with each other in public. That meant gay cruising codes and ways of showing appreciation for one another. Although the times are different now, the codes and signals for action remain the same.
One of the most prominent codes back in the day were handkerchiefs. Depending on their color and position, handkerchiefs would tell others what you’re looking for and what you’re ready to do. For example, a hanky in the back left pocket of your pants means that you’re a “top” guy while putting it in the right pocket means you’re the “bottom.” Similar codes are still in use in gay bathhouses, like using bracelets of varying colors.
Another way of signaling your intent is foot-tapping in a public bathroom. Active rhythmic taps signal that you’re looking for casual sex. In response, you’ll hear a slow rhythm pattern that signals their approval and acceptance of your proposition. And even if there’s no real use for these codes anymore, it’s important to remember them if you’re looking for some old-fashioned cruise ship adventure.
The Dos and Don’ts of Cruising
Like we’ve said, cruising critics in the gay community think the practice is unsafe for various reasons. The stigma towards it remains from the old days when homosexuality was punishable by law. So, people cruising were always on edge, waiting for cops to show up. Also, having casual sex is one of the easiest ways to risk your health. So, let’s talk about safety and precautions when looking for an easy hook-up in public.
Experienced cruisers never go into action without condoms. Unlike having sex in a gay bathhouse where condoms are mandatory, public hook-ups are free from any rules. It’s easy to stumble upon someone who has HIV or STIs and fall for them. Therefore, if you’re looking to enjoy your sex as much as possible, be sure to carry some protection on you.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a “sea day” in a country where they don’t take being gay as lightly as in the U.S., be sure to watch your back. And in case you’re having sex in public, and you get caught, call your lawyer immediately. Don’t talk to the police — just ask for your phone call. Sure, it might be unnecessary to even talk about safety nowadays, but knowing this won’t hurt.
Famous People Who Got Caught Cruising
If you didn’t know by now, celebrities are no strangers to restroom cruising. There are multiple cases of famous people getting caught while looking for some quick action in public. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, and examine what their experiences were like, shall we?
One of the most famous incidents involving cruising in a restroom came about in 1998 when the critically acclaimed pop star, George Michael, was arrested in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, for lewd conduct. The British singer was tricked by an undercover police officer to undress and show his genitals. This incident was a turning point in his career, as it wasn’t public knowledge that Michael was gay before.
Another case of famous people caught cruising that shook the media was that of the former Republican senator, Larry Craig. The 2007 incident occurred in a public restroom at the Minneapolis International Airport. Craig pled guilty of lewd conduct for a lesser charge. Later on, his resignation from the Senate would end his political career.
Cruising is a great way to have a one-night stand, but it’s also problematic if you’re willing to do it in a public space. Therefore, the criticism of some from the gay community is arguably right. Hooking up is great and all, but it’s maybe smarter to be intimate in a hotel room or at your place. Also, if you’re willing to give it a try, don’t be stupid and remember to use protection with someone you’ve just met.