NYT: Cruising for Sex

CruiseThis jaw-dropping article in the New York Times about men picking up other men at various cruising spots on Long Island is perhaps one of the most offensive pieces of trash I’ve ever read in that newspaper, and includes an equally offensive photo (at least in the online edition) of an older man from the waist down standing outside of his car. The focus of the photograph is the man’s crotch.

From the tone of this article you would think that gay men are all still so ashamed of ourselves that our weekly schedule includes a stop-off at some roadside cruise spot, a large selection of which are listed in the article. Obviously the writer, Corey Kilgannon, relished the research as much as he enjoyed printing this sensationalist piece of trash.

“There’s so much loneliness among gay men,” one lot user said. “A lot of guys just want someone to talk to.”

The parking lot’s use as a gay cruising spot goes back at least to the 1960’s, several older men said. “I spent the halcyon days of my youth here,” one said. “This place was paradise back then.”

As for sex, the regulars say that they prefer the parking lot to gay bars since there is little in the way of drugs and alcohol and there is more honesty about sexually transmitted diseases. Many regulars say they make arrangements to go home together or to a motel since a strong police presence makes sex in the car or the woods too risky. They add, however, that for certain men, this risk only increases the excitement and allure of on-site sex.

So, if you’re gay you’re either a closeted married man searching for anonymous sex in a parking lot or a promiscuous drug user who goes to bars and lies about the diseases you have.

The article also mentions the proximity to children playing sports on a nearby field. The article begins, “There is a narrow parking lot in Cunningham Park in Queens surrounded by playing fields for adult softball and youth soccer and baseball. At one end of the lot, retirees arrive to practice their golf and mothers in minivans gather to wait for their Little Leaguers.”

From sentence one the writer chooses to associate the gay men cruising with the children playing baseball. Just sick. While the suggestion that cruising in rest areas and parking lots is a behavior common among all gay men is disgusting enough, this further association with pedophilia is not something I thought I’d see ever happen in the Times.

The article’s conclusion is perhaps the most offensive:

One recent evening, a half-dozen mothers stood chatting, waiting for their children to finish soccer. A stone’s throw away, a group of gay men stood narrating the attempt of a man trolling the lot in a tan sedan to woo the cute man parked in the black S.U.V. with tinted windows backed into a spot.

“The guy in the brown car’s a dog, he’s always here,” the man narrating said. “I’ve never seen the black car before. But watch, here he’ll pull right up to him and see what happens.” Within moments, the man in the tan sedan hopped into the S.U.V. and the windows closed.

“Woop, there he goes,” the narrator said. “You go, girl.”

While gay gatherings take many forms in ethnically diverse Queens, from the scene in Astoria Park to the gay bars serving Central and South Americans in Jackson Heights, many ethnic groups have strong taboos against homosexuality.

“Society doesn’t accept us and it’s hard to meet people, sexually or socially,” said a 42-year-old graduate student from Queens visiting the parking lot. “You know, not everyone who’s gay lives in Manhattan and runs in packs like ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.’ “

In four short paragraphs the author suggests gay men are perverts whose selfish lust for anonymous sex shows no regard for children, hammers out our “effeminate” dialect, targets the “ethnic” community as the biggest offenders, and paints gay men as lonely, isolated social outcasts.

Thanks New York Times. You’ve stooped to a new low.

A Sex Stop on the Way Home [new york times]

Posted September 21, 2005 at 9:53am ETC by Andy Towle
in New York, Print Media