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

Mr. & Miss Big D Continental at the Brick

Pageant with a heart

This year’s Mr. and Miss Big D Continental isn’t just a pageant. The event will also offers proceeds from the night to the Resource Center of Dallas. Of course, it’s big bang for your buck. Check out the entertainment on hand for Sunday night. Impressive, huh? It’s gonna be like Draga-palooza up in the Brick house tonight.

DEETS: The Brick, 2525 Wycliff Ave. 8 p.m. $15. BigDContinental.com.


—  Rich Lopez

Hear Lovers tonight at Andy’s in Denton

Lovers’ finds zero limits as an out musicians

Lovers has five albums under its belt, and through rotating members, the touchstone has always been Berk. But this current incarnation of the band seems to find Lovers at its best self. Berk, Kerby Ferris and Emily Kingan have produced a confident album with Dark Light, and after a decade of doing this, Berk feels this is the band at its strongest.

“When we came together, it felt very egalitarian and feminist and comfortable,” she says. “I hadn’t experienced that level of confidence and there are a lot of benefits to having our kind of connection. I felt like this was a really great place to be creatively.”

This confidence has taken Berk to new levels, as an artist and a person. All three members identify as queer, and for Berk, that offers a comfort in writing her music. Although she starts the song on her acoustic guitar, the others chime in for a group dynamic.

At 32, her personal growth over these 10 years has manifested differently in Dark Light than it has on any of the previous releases. She’s out of the closet, but this album shows Berk coming out of her shell.

“I feel like I sort of went from being an artist who was working mostly to exorcise personal demons to someone who, with time, is able to looking more outward,” she says. “This is the most extroverted album Lovers has ever had.”

Read the entire article here.

DEETS: With Sextape and One Red Martian. Andy’s Bar, 122 N. Locust Road, Denton. May 13. 9 p.m. $6–$8. LoversAreLovers.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Broadway Actress Daphne Rubin-Vega Offers First Spanish Voice to New Yorkers for Marriage Equality

Broadway actress Daphne Rubin-Vega is the latest New Yorker to join the Human Rights Campaign’s “New Yorkers for Marriage Equality” campaign.  Rubin-Vega lent her voice to the campaign with two videos, one in English, and the first Spanish language video of the series. Both new videos, and the entire campaign, can be viewed online at www.hrc.org/NY4marriage.

“There is nothing more important to me than the love and commitment that a family brings,” said Rubin-Vega. “That’s why I support equal marriage rights for all.”

ENGLISH VIDEO

SPANISH VIDEO

With the eight and ninth installments of the series; Rubin-Vega joins Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Mayor Bloomberg, Moby, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, actress Fran Drescher, Julianne Moore and designer Kenneth Cole to support marriage equality in the state. In the coming weeks and months HRC will continue the series of prominent New Yorkers speaking out in support for marriage equality to include: Whoopi Goldberg, David Chang, Tom Colicchio, Ethan and Ryan Hawke, Christopher Meloni and Joan Rivers.

A marriage equality bill failed last year by eight votes in the New York state Senate despite having the support of the Governor and being passed in the Assembly. HRC’s Campaign for New York Marriage has worked tirelessly this election and had big wins throughout the state. Check out our election results page to find out more about our victories in New York.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

New Study Offers Remarkable Statistic on Teens Raised by Lesbian Mothers

The following comes from the Director of HRC’s Family Project, Ellen Kahn:

A Nice, Round Number Says A Lot

Amid the ongoing public debate about whether LGBT parents are “good enough,” and assertions from our conservative opponents that children raised by lesbian and gay parents are “at risk,” another powerful study published today that should put a pall on this conversation.

0%—that is the number of 17 year olds raised by lesbian moms, who report being physically or sexually abused by a parent or other adult caregiver in a recent report from the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study.  This number is quite remarkable, particularly in contrast to the dreadful statistic that in general, 26% of adolescents report being physically abused by a parent or caregiver, and 8% report being sexually abused.

In addition to the 0% abuse statistic in this study, just 2.8% of these same teens identify as gay or lesbian, consistent with statistics in the general population.  This should go far in debunking the myth perpetrated by anti-LGBT forces that children raised by gay parents are more likely to be gay themselves (as if that’s a bad thing!)—that we can somehow wield that kind of influence on sexual orientation. I’m sure many of our parents would be the first to testify that as hard as they tried, prayed or wished for us to be heterosexual, they could not influence us.

78 teens were included in this groundbreaking longitudinal study headed by Dr. Nanette Gartrell, all of whom were born into lesbian-headed families.  I hope that people pay attention to this study and are curious about why these particular families do not experience violence. I also hope that professionals and organizations that support families and children can identify effective approaches to supporting the millions of children and youth who do face abuse in their own families.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin