What ever happened to cruising? You know, going to public places to see who wants to have a little fun. I haven’t had this experience myself but it has peeked my curiosity. It seemed liked it was an important and exciting part of our gay culture. Have you ever experienced cruising?
Dear Contemplating Cruising,
It’s a thin line between cruising and having a crisis. As your resident sex columnist, I went undercover a while ago to cruise for anonymous sex in public places for a week.
What I First Remembered From My First Time Cruising
When I was in my early 20’s Martin Luther King library used to be ubiquitous for bathroom play: circle jerks and sucking dicks.
I and a coterie of my closest friends met at the library to catch up on our reading. We hung in the main lobby while we took turns going downstairs—often in groups or pairs to see what we could view. As the ultimate voyeur, I spent extra time in the mirror to peek at the action.
From businessmen to homeless men, cruising transcended housing or socio-economical status. Who said you needed a home to jerk off in the bathroom? It brought people together.
Each time someone would enter, the sounds of toilets flushing in unison filled the room. The fear of the police coming kept everyone on high alert. Whenever they raided restrooms, sex zombies crept to the 2nd floor like The Walking Dead. One sat down on the toilet while the other guy stood in front of him. When the door swung open, it started again.
My Return to the MLK Library
I returned to the library five years later to see if cruising still existed. The library was closing for a three year renovation in just three months. I had to work fast. I crept downstairs to find the bathroom on the basement level. It was locked. I took the elevator up to where the police were, “Excuse me, sir, the bathrooms are locked.” I said. “That bathroom is staff only,” he said. “You have to go to the second floor.”
The rush of excitement took over. One guy finished up at the urinal. My stall reeked of urine and littered with toilet paper. This was not the cruising dynamite I anticipated.
I came back downstairs and returned an hour later. Men circled the lobby while pretending to peruse the periodicals. I went to the bathroom again to see what developed. A “cutie” rushed out. Was there something on the precipice of a porn scene?
One guy stood at the urinal, another entered the middle stall, taking the one next to him. 10 minutes later and nothing happened. Are dating apps killing cruising places?
But there is something voyeuristic about meeting a stranger in a public restroom. Or walking around the book shelves playing an adult version of hide and seek.
Getting Cruised by the Homeless Left Me Hopeless
I sat in one of the common areas working on an article. When he relaxed next to me I could tell he was gay. We talked about dating and sex. “I’m doing an article on cruising,” I said. “It used to be a cruising spot.”
“Baby, it’s still a cruising spot.” Oh, my ears perked. “My stomach hurt,” I said.
“Are you hungry?”
“No, I’m fine.”
“I know you ain’t hungry with that honey bun back there,” he said. “It would take a week to eat.” I laughed and we talked for hours. “I’m not looking for a relationship,” he said. “But we could be friends with benefits.” I later discovered that he needed to be at the shelter by 8 pm. I was just cruised by a homeless man. Can you really date a homeless person?
Aren’t we all a little homeless? Either we are a check away or sleeping on someone’s couch. I wouldn’t be so cold to someone wanting a little warmth. Considering my complicated living situation, I’m not compatible with anyone who can’t host. When you have nowhere to go, where do you go to get it on?
Food Stamps and Fellatio
The next day I came back. I spent the day at social services trying to turn $7 in food stamps to $194. Results were mixed. I arrived during the evening. Two guys were at the urinal. I made my way to the third stall but there was shit in the toilet. I escaped to the middle one. I peered through the cracks watching through the stall door. I could see seconds of one guy sucking off another. They stopped and started again. While at the sink a stranger shouted to the mirror. “I know you’re watching police,” he said. “I know you’re behind the mirror.”
“You think the police is hiding behind the restroom mirror?”
I left the bathroom excited—cruising was back.
That night I met a guy off Jack’d at the library. Ronald wasn’t much to look at but I have an article to write. “Meet me upstairs by the bathroom on the third floor,” he said.
I didn’t know there was a bathroom on the third floor. I went and it was locked. So, I met him in the lobby. We walked around downtown and chatted about life’s disappointments and cruising in public restrooms. We walked over to Macy’s where I followed him down to the downstairs bathroom.
Men moved in and out of there like sex zombies. It felt awkward waiting around for a stall I didn’t need. I saw a man jerking off in front of me. He waved his dick like a flag. Ronald waited in the corner by the stall looking at his phone.
10 minutes and 10 more men later, I escaped the bathroom. It was overcrowded. I sat there and waited for him while I charged my phone. 30 minutes later we took the elevator to the 4th floor bathroom. They waited around like they were about to receive bad news. Guys fluctuated back and forth.
Security walked in wagging his walkie-talkie, “There’s some activity in the bathroom,” a male voice said. Two men followed security out the restroom. It was my cue to go.
I walked away feeling a mixture of emptiness and excitement. I spent the week cruising and I didn’t get off once.
I guess happy endings don’t always make you happy.
Make sure to also checkout previous Love Walter columns here
Got a question? Email your letters at [email protected] His advice column will appear on Wednesday.