The lost art of cruising

‘Electro-tricks’ may be quicker and easier, but half the fun of the hook-up was working at it

Hardy Haberman | Flagging Left

I don’t get out much — at least to the bars. First of all I don’t drink anymore, and second, I am not really looking to hook up with anyone since I am in a very nice relationship.

I do, however, occasionally meet friends out for the evening or for a special event.

When I do go out, it is most often to our local leather bar, the Dallas Eagle, and I often indulge in a little people watching. I like to watch the crowd, the way people interact with one another, the ebb and flow of what was once a favorite past time of gay men: cruising.

What surprised me was the lack of that particular gay art going on.

First, let me say this is not a reflection on the Eagle; it’s a fine, first-class leather bar. What I noticed is something I have seen in other cities as well, and it bothers me a bit.

Now for those who might not know, cruising is a delicate dance men used to perform when looking for a partner, playmate or just trick du jour. It usually began with some long, slow looks, occasional subtle signals like a nod, the touch of the brim of a cap, a purposeful second glance or even just a slight change in body language.

If two people read the signals, and actually respond, it might proceed to sending over a drink — or a more direct approach. Often before actually making contact, you would ask a few friends if they knew the man in question, and for the leather scene that would also entail asking if anyone knew more intimate details: Was he a safe player? What was he into?

Of course, we also had the hanky code. It was a more direct and cut to the chase way to let folks know what you were seeking.

I won’t go into the details here, but the basics were: Hanky in the left pocket meant you were a top, and hanky in the right pocket meant you were a bottom.

Still, even with outward signs, there was an art to the whole endeavor. If done correctly, it had an element of seduction in it and all the sexual energy that went with it.

Sadly, I don’t see much of that going on anymore.

What I do see is guys checking their smart phones. Looking a little closer, I see them using Grindr, checking Recon and texting.

That’s when I realized what happened to cruising: It has gone the way of the dodo.

What was once a face-to-face encounter that actually took some time and energy is now a fast, down-and-dirty, “check a few profiles and text enough contacts until you pull a winning number” routine.

The whole cruising experience has become an electronic booty call with no mystery, no romance and no effort.

Oh yes, it is much more efficient. You can select from the variety of “neck-down pictures” and body statistics, like you were choosing a download on Amazon.

Find Mr. Right or at least Mr. Right Enough for Now, text a few lines, set a time and bingo! Insta-trick!

All very high tech and painless. No face-to-face rejections, no appallingly awkward moments. Just on-line chat and, essentially, “booking.”

It would seem to me that applications like Grindr and sites like Recon and CraigsList have replaced the whole cruising experience, and though it might be much more efficient, it really changes to atmosphere in the bars.

The heady sexual tension that used to permeate gay bars has given way to guys and gals on their smart phones texting or cruising — the web. One bar in Florida even has a screen where patrons can text directly to the screen, sort of a visual “shout out” for all to see.

Inevitably, the whole electro-trick phenomenon has spawned something totally unexpected. My partner commented on the subject of this column and suggested there should be an Angie’s List for Grindr.

I was surprised this morning when, while researching this piece, I found something very much like that.

Douchebagsofgrindr.com may just be a parody, but if not it offers some insight into the whole process. Personally, I find it kind of crass, but then I find the whole “electro-trick-speed-dating-booty-call” app thing crass.

It makes me long for the days of actually having to spend a little time to pursue and attract and seduce someone you were interested in. Try that now and I suspect you’d just get accused of being a stalker.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.Blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Equals? James Bond (or at least, Daniel Craig) dons drag for International Women’s Day

Tomorrow — Tuesday, March 8 — marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. And while some things have gotten better for women in the last century, some things haven’t changed. At least, they haven’t changed enough.

In honor of the 100th International Women’s Day, singer/activist Annie Lennox has brought together a coalition of  charities, that champion women’s rights to “step up the call to demand a more equal world.” The Equals? Partnership, according to its website, is “a partnership of charities and organizations that believe men and women are equals and that we should have equal rights, equal opportunities and equal representation in politics, education, health, employment, family life and media and culture.”

Here are some of the statistics from Equals? Partnership’s website: 1 in 3 women will experience violence at some point in their lives; women hold only 19 percent of the world’s parliamentary seats; only about 24 percent of the people in mainstream broadcast and print news are female; women perform 66 percent of the world’s work and produce 50 percent of the world’s food, but earn 10 percent of world’s income and own 1 percent of the world’s property.

Equals? Partnership has a number of events planned around the United Kingdom. But you don’t have to travel to the U.K. to see the coalition’s work. The coalition also has created this 2-minute video, using one of the world’s most macho fictional characters, James Bond, played by one of the most manly actors, Daniel Craig, to try and drive home the point that women still are not treated equally here in the 21st century.

According to the IWD website, there are 234 events planned in the United States to recognize International Women’s Day 2011. The first was held Jan. 12, and the last will be held in May. The only event I saw listed here in Dallas — in fact, the only event I saw listed in Texas — is Echo Reads: A Staged Reading and Salon Series which includes a staged reading of the new play by Isabella Russell-Ides called The Early Education of Conrad Eppler, happening March 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Bath House Cultural Center, presented by Echo Theatre.

But of course, I already knew that the 9th annual Words of Women celebration will be held next Sunday, March 13, beginning at 12:30 p.m. at the Women’s Museum in Fair Park. You can get all the details here.

But even if you don’t go to an official IWD event, take a minute to realize that no matter how civilized and advanced we consider ourselves to be, there still exists a vast chasm of inequities between the genders. It’s up to us — regardless what gender we are — to bridge that gap.

—  admin

Update on Alekseev in Dallas

As we reported last Friday, Russian LGBT activist Nikolai Alekseev is will be making two appearances in North Texas this week.

On Thursday, March 3, at 3 p.m., Alekseev will speak at Brite Divinity School, and we just received some updated information on his Friday, March 4 appearance in Dallas.

Alekseev will speak Friday, at 7 p.m. at the Interfaith Peace Chapel, and for that appearance he will be joined by Andy Thayer, the co-founder of Gay Liberation Network who is accompanying the Russian activist on his U.S. tour, as well as several local LGBT leaders who will take part in a panel discussion to compare and contrast the fight for LGBT equality in Russia with the movement in North Texas.

Panelists will include moderator Blake Wilkinson, Rafael McDonnell with Resource Center Dallas, Agape MCC pastor the Rev. David Wynn and Dawn Meifert of MergeMedia Group.

Both events are free and open to the public.

—  admin

What’s Brewing: Valentine’s Day recap edition

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. THE GOOD: Legislators in Washington state and Colorado were struck by Cupid’s arrow, as they introduced bills Monday to legalize same-sex marriage and civil unions, respectively. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that 24 Maryland senators have now said publicly that they’ll support pending marriage equality legislation, giving the bill the votes it needs to pass by the slimmest of margins.

2. THE BAD: The Indiana House was scheduled to vote Monday on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but the measure, which is expected to pass, was postponed because some lawmakers who want to go on record supporting the ban were absent. Meanwhile, lawmakers in New Hampshire are moving forward with hearings on a proposed repeal of same-sex marriage, despite polls showing a majority of residents oppose the repeal. And, in Chicago, six activists were arrested when they refused to leave a marriage bureau after a same-sex couple was denied a license.

3. THE UGLY: If you want to get really angry, or need a reminder as to what the struggle for equality is all about, watch the above video of police in Lima, Peru, using violence to break up a Valentine’s Day “Kisses Against Homophobia” demonstration that took place Saturday. According to Living in Peru, one activist needed 10 stitches to the back of her head.

—  John Wright

Hundreds Gather in NY to Remember Slain Ugandan Activist David Kato

 

The following comes from HRC Greater New York Steering Committee Diversity Co-Chair Pete Webb:

I represented the Human Rights Campaign yesterday at the New York City Memorial Service to honor the Ugandan LGBT Activist, David Kato.  Kato was the advocacy officer of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG).  Only a few short months after his picture was published in a national magazine outing LGBT Ugandans under the headline “hang them,” someone broke into Kato’s house on January 26, 2011 and beat him to death with a hammer.  Right-wing U.S. extremists have fueld a climate of hatred in Uganda.  Click here to learn more and send a message to the most outspoken extremists whose words may have led to Kato’s death.  

A moving memorial service, alive with soul and spirit, was held for Kato in the historic setting of Abyssinian Baptist Church.  Over 225 people attended to mourn David’s murder and show their solidarity with LGBT Ugandans.  Various dignitaries participated in the service including a UN Senior Adviser to the High Commissioner, New York City Councilmember, and clergy from various faith communities. Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of SMUG, also shared his testimony and friendship with David Kato.

The Rev. Joseph Tolton, who was the lead organizer of the vigil, talked about racism, homophobia, hatred and bigotry within society and the church. He passionately extolled everyone to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your god.” He challenged the church to welcome all of god’s children including the LGBT community. The Rev. Calvin Butts of Abyssinian Baptist Church continued this theme declaring that we must open our hearts and minds to erase hate and affirm human dignity.

It is my hope and prayer that David Kato’s legacy will birth a movement of understanding; empowerment and liberation.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  David Taffet

Let’s make one thing Lear

Last month, Britain’s National Theatre broadcast the (sort of) live production of its stage version of Fela!, a musical about the African musician and activist who eventually died of AIDS. The same service now presents a very different show, but one that should be just as fascinating: King Lear.

Arguably Shakespeare’s masterpiece, Lear has long been a showcase for actors in the twilight of their careers, though the casting of gay acting icon Derek Jacobi, fresh off his ensemble cast SAG Award as the wily Archbishop in The King’s Speech, has enjoyed widespread popularity and acclaim almost continuously for four decades. Already a prime interpreter of the Bard (his Richard II remains a defining characterization), the chance to see him as Lear is a treat.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Screens at the Angelika Dallas Feb. 9 and 10 and Angelika Plano Feb. 13 and 14 at 7 p.m. NTLive.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

White House reaction to the murder of Ugandan LGBT activist David Kato

LGBT rights are not special rights; they are human rights. My Administration will continue to strongly support human rights and assistance work on behalf of LGBT persons abroad. We do this because we recognize the threat faced by leaders like David Kato, and we share their commitment to advancing freedom, fairness, and equality for all.

– President Obama, reacting to news of the murder of Ugandan activist David Kato

Earlier today, Alvin blogged about this horrific development in Uganda, which is an example state-sanctioned homophobia (Did Scott Lively’s homophobic ‘nuclear bomb’ cause a death in Uganda?)

Photobucket Last week, anti-gay activist Scott Lively whined in a local Boston newspaper that he is being unfairly criticized for his stances against the lgbt community, including playing a huge role in the creation of the infamous “kill the gays” bill in Uganda.

After an incident in Uganda yesterday, he may want to keep his mouth shut:

An outspoken Ugandan gay activist whose picture recently appeared in an anti-gay newspaper under the headline “Hang Them” was beaten to death in his home, Ugandan police said on Thursday.

David Kato, the activist, was one of the most visible defenders of gay rights in a country so homophobic that government leaders have proposed to execute gay people. Mr. Kato and other gay people in Uganda had recently warned that their lives were endangered, and four months ago a local paper called Rolling Stone published a list of gay people, and Mr. Kato’s face was on the front page.

This level of violence has not gone unnoticed by the Obama administration — and the President himself.

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

____________________________________________

For Immediate Release January 27, 2011

Statement by the President on the Killing of David Kato

I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder of David Kato. In Uganda, David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate. He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom. The United States mourns his murder, and we recommit ourselves to David’s work.

At home and around the world, LGBT persons continue to be subjected to unconscionable bullying, discrimination, and hate. In the weeks preceding David Kato’s murder in Uganda, five members of the LGBT community in Honduras were also murdered. It is essential that the Governments of Uganda and Honduras investigate these killings and hold the perpetrators accountable.

LGBT rights are not special rights; they are human rights. My Administration will continue to strongly support human rights and assistance work on behalf of LGBT persons abroad. We do this because we recognize the threat faced by leaders like David Kato, and we share their commitment to advancing freedom, fairness, and equality for all.

And Rep. Tammy Baldwin released a statement:


Statement of Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin on the Murder of Ugandan LGBT Advocate David Kato



January 27, 201

“I am deeply saddened and greatly angered by the brutal murder of Ugandan LGBT advocate David Kato.  I extend my condolences to David’s family, friends, and brave colleagues at Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and pledge that their work, for which David gave his life, will not be in vain.  I stand with them in the quest for LGBT equality in Uganda and around the world.”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Ugandan Gay Activist Murdered

DavidKatox390 (Screengrab) | Advocate.comDavid Kato, a prominent gay activist threatened with death on the front page of a Uganda newspaper, was brutally murdered at his home in Kampala.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

Activist Outed on Cover of Ugandan Tabloid is Beaten to Death

Uganda

David Kato, a Human Rights Activist, who according to Human Rights Watch "had dedicated his life to fighting for the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgender persons (LGBT) in Uganda" was beaten to death in his home yesterday.

Human Rights Watch explains: Kato

Witnesses told police that a man entered Kato's home in Mukono at around 1 p.m. on January 26, 2011, hit him twice in the head and departed in a vehicle. Kato died on his way to Kawolo hospital. Police told Kato's lawyer that they had the registration number of the vehicle and were looking for it.

Kato was the advocacy officer for the organization Sexual Minorities Uganda. He had been a leading voice in the fight against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which has been before Uganda's parliament since October 15, 2009.

You may recall that back in October, the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone published a list of '100 Top Homos' with the directions to "hang them" written on the cover.

Kato's face appeared on the cover, and inside, and was named by the tabloid.

Said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch: "David Kato's death is a tragic loss to the human rights community. David had faced the increased threats to Ugandan LGBT people bravely and will be sorely missed."

In related news, in yesterday's round-up I posted the story of Brenda Namigadde, a lesbian Ugandan in the UK who is being threatened with deportation despite the hideous situation in Uganda. David Bahati, the author of the "kill the gays" bill, has taken an interest in her 'redemption'. Please sign a petition for her safety here.


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Ugandan gay activist David Kato found murdered at his home in Kampala

Very disturbing. Jim Burroway has the details at Box Turtle Bulletin:

We have learned that Ugandan LGBT advocate David Kato Kisulle was murdered today at his home in Kampala. Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) has confirmed that the David’s body was identified at a hospital.

Update: I have also confirmed this with SMUG’s Pepe Julian Onziema, who identified David’s body in the hospital morgue. Police are investigating. We really don’t know anything more at this point.

The details surrounding his murder are unknown at this time. He was reportedly beaten in the skull with a hammer at his home. We do not yet know whether it was a single assailant or a group of people, nor do we know any other circumstances surrounding his death.

David Kato was a spokesperson for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and one of the plaintiffs (or applicants) in the successful lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction against the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication of the same name). Kato was one of three applicants who had been named by the tabloid under a headline tagged “Hang Them!”




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin