There was no love, simply bodies enjoying themselves:
cruising as a site of contradictions, or can we suck dick with a face mask on?
Within the uncertainty of our age of anxiety, we would never expect to end up in a pandemic biowar alike, further undermining the precariousness of our lives and future. Our homes became fallout shelters. Our bodies, already bound to autodiscipline and self-regulation, surrendered to our individual moral responsibility to self-isolate to contrast the spreading of the virus (1)
We found ourselves anxiously estranged from nature–man’s inorganic body with which we must remain in continuous interchange to not die (2)
. In the history of homosexuality, outdoor casual sex had already co-existed for the last 40 years with an epidemic, carrying on a ‘pleasure-peril’ approach. And surveillance and control of dissident bodies is no news. Despite that, cruising was still alive. A place to enjoy nature in all its wonderful forms simultaneously.
It was over one hour to reach the place, I had to change two trains, and then walk for 20 minutes.
I can’t tell when the history of cruising began, some records can be found via police reports. Besides risky sex, the people who participate in public sex environments are also vulnerable to police harassment, fines, and being mugged, still nowadays (3)
. Homosexuality is first of all a criminal category (4)
Cruising spots are like a layer on a pre-existing public site (park, gas station, toilet, beach...), and their secretiveness makes them visible only to those who aim to take part. They’re public, but at the same time discreet, they’re imperceivable from the outside but explicit on the inside. The cruising grounds are "nowhere" but might also be "anywhere", just like utopias (5)
Crossing the gate of the park felt like crossing the portal to a parallel dimension. Those who entered were briefly dismissing their ties to the heterosexual society. Detonating the mundane, in quest of another use of the urban landscape, in quest of new passions (6)
. Once there, I walked around, driven by a combination of fear and excitement, mapping this erotic geography, while waiting for someone interesting. In this male-dominated environment, which mirrors the gendered use of public space, you can meet gays, ‘straight’ married men, bears, hot daddies, old chubby sissies, transvestites, exhibitionists, voyeurs, perverts, hustlers, and so on.
Sometimes nobody is there—more likely nobody you want to fuck—and you spend hours walking back and forth. Moving across the park trails, feeling like a lonely star in a constellation of sexual outlaws that takes too long to appear.
From the parking lot I saw this old guy, he stared at me, and I glanced back. Few times there, and you learn the choreography of cruising: wink, look, nod, crotch grab.
He started following me in the bushes. My heart was beating faster. Our vulnerable othernesses were inscribed in the landscape, camouflaged between trees, branches, and leaves.
Once we were hidden safely in the deep vegetation, we started kissing. He had a mustache, white and fluffy. He then stuck his wet tongue in my ear. The tension of wild nature echoed the tense of sex.
We were resisting the spatial dynamics of capitalism (7)
. We were transitioning in terms of desire and moving across geographical borders. The park represented the ideological impetus of uncultivated nature and material decay as a catalyst for desire and corporeal transgression (8)
I got a hard-on.
“Are you an anarchist?”
He said yes.
I unbuckled his belt and unzipped his jeans. I pulled out his cock, it was big and glowing;
a weapon for our invisible revolution. Throbbing meat in my clenched fist. Most of the time it was just about beating a piece of throbbing meat rather than overturning the old binaries. Moans, squirting fluids, sweat, urine stained underwear, cum tissues—if you follow the cum tissues, you will find the cruising spot.
I asked him what he thought about using dating apps and he said “the idea that we are all digitally connected, that we have equal access to apps, and dating sites, is classist and ableist. For some of us, outdoor encounters are still essential”.
Public sex represents the de-domestication of sex. Some people can’t experience same-sex intercourse in proximity to their house, neighborhood, or family.
It is a re-conceptualization of the city. When cruising, people “take a place and make a place. They make an impossible place take place. They describe, circumscribe, inscribe a spectacular space” (9)
Sometimes I asked myself how this pleasure could be transposed into other aspects of our everyday life. “Do you feel what we are doing here as attempts at liberation?” “The power of the act of cruising lies in its contradictions, and its difficulties in being seen as socially acceptable. It screams that there isn't a right way to express our homosexuality and transsexuality. And every process to set these boundaries leads to assimilation and commodification.”
Public sex always had been perceived as a threat to society. The park has to be a place for families and the visible presence of ‘perverts’ has to be contained through police repression. This reinforces their sole natural heterosexist narrative.
After we left the park clandestinely, our bodies were brought back into the means of capitalist production (10)
. Probably the inherent insecurity of this contingency choked off the flows’ lines of escape, and imagination.
In its unawareness, cruising encounters carry potentialities; above all the ungovernable potential of burning desire (11)
. Can you imagine being able to transfer the same tension into all the other aspects of our life?
(1) On Blade Runner A Movie, novel by William S. Burroughs, a lethal flu epidemic hits the city “Health care isn’t rationed just because of a wrong-headed scientific analysis, but because it’s a chance to rid society of anyone who’s black, gay, or otherwise “undesirable.”” Further Reading.
(2) Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, Dover Books, 2007, p.74.
(3) Further Reading.
(4) G. Hocquenghem, Homosexual Desire, Duke University Press, 1993, p. 67.
(5) F. Bartkowski, Feminist Utopias, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln 1989, p. 8.
(6) “The progress achieved in the domination of nature was not yet matched by the corresponding liberation of everyday life. Everyone unthinkingly followed the paths learned once and for all, to their works and their homes, to their predictable future. For them duty had already become a habit, and habit a duty. They did not see the deficiency of their city. They thought the deficiency of their life was natural. We wanted to break out of this conditioning, in quest of another use of the urban landscape, in quest of new passions.” Guy Debord, On the Passage of a Few Persons through a Rather Brief Period of Time, 1959.
(7) L. Knopp, Sexuality and the Spatial Dynamics of Capitalism, «Environment and Planning D: Society and Space», vol. 10, 1992 p. 651-669.
(8) M. Gandy, Queer Ecology, «Environment and Planning D: Society and Space», vol. 30, 2012, p. 739.
(9) Sue Golding, Sexual Manners in Pleasure Principles, Lawrence & Wishart, 1993, p. 80.
(10) “The body as the container of labor-power, a means of production, the primary work-machine” S. Federici, Caliban and the Witch, Autonomedia, 2004, p.137-138.
(11) “Desire is explosive; there is no desiring-machine capable of being assembled without demolishing entire social sectors.” G. Deleuze and F. Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, Continuum, 2004, p.126