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

Sending good thoughts to Dan Choi

Dan Choi wrote to Pam Spaulding and Rex Wockner yesterday to let them know he’s currently getting treatment at the Brockton MA Veterans Hospital.

The Blend’s post, with the letter and some excellent commentary from other service members, is here.

Dan is a friend and I have enormous respect for him. He’s been through a lot over the past year and a half — and let’s not forget the time that Dan, the Arab linguist, spent on the front lines in Iraq during 2006 and 2007. He’s played a key role in getting the DADT repeal effort on to the radar screen of elected officials, advocacy groups and the traditional media.

We’re sending good thoughts Dan’s way. He’s put himself on the line for all of us — both while serving in the military and by leading the DADT protests.

It would be a really good time for Harry Reid to get that standalone DADT bill passed so he can return Dan’s West Point ring to him.




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—  admin

Cindy McCain does video opposing DADT, accuses ‘our government’ of sending signal that bullying is okay – her hubbie is the lead defender of DADT

John McCain is leading the filibuster against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” “repeal” legislation in the Senate (it’s not an actual repeal, but we’ll leave that for another time).  Today, Cindy McCain joined a number of celebrities in a video about gay youth suicide and bullying.  Mrs. McCain’s part of the video condemned DADT and then accused our government of sending bullies a message that what they do is okay.

The woman basically accused her husband of sharing the blame for gay kids killing themselves.

I’m astonished.  And impressed as hell.

CINDY MCCAIN:

Our political and religious leaders tell LGBT youth that they have no future.

They can’t serve our country openly.

VARIETY OF SPEAKERS:

What’s worse, these laws that legislate discrimination teach bullies that what they’re doing is acceptable.

CINDY MCCAIN:

Our government treats the LGBT community like second class citizens, why shouldn’t they?




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—  admin

BREAKING: GetEqual protesting Obama DADT inaction at high-$ fundraiser in Miami by air, land and sea; sending weather balloons over NBA star’s home; three boats of protesters and press underway

UPDATE: 6:30PM – GetEqual protest makes the White House pool report – this is big, because it means the story will now go nationwide – the pool report also confirms that the guests at the dinner can hear GetEqual’s bull horns:

At the reception in a “small” white tent around the back of the house, Rep. Chris Van Hollen was touting Democrats’ accomplishments before a small crowd when pool got there. Compared it with New Deal, Great Society. Covered health-care bill, student loan overhaul. Says things have gotten better on economy.

“The president needs a Congress that is going to work with him…it is now halftime in the first time of Barack Obama’s administration…dos the Miami Heat quit at halftime?” Crowd cheers.

POTUS takes the stage to applause. Mistakenly refers to Ron Klein as Ron Klain and apologizes. Ron Klein is inside the home.

As he is speaking, air horns can be heard across the bay, and pool is told by a GetEQUAL spokesman that they are activists protesting the administration on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Appear to have several small boats, at one point pool can hear some yelling. Some members of the audience look over but noise is not loud enough to disrupt and POTUS continues uninterrupted.

POTUS says economy is begining to recover because lawmakers were willing to take tough votes. Says: “The question in this election is not whether or not things are where we want them” but who will take us there.

They said no each and every time…they don’t have new ideas.”

Hits GOP Pledge to America. “They’re selling the same snake oil they were before.” says the 700B to pay for the wealthy tax cuts would be borrowed from China and Saudi Arabia.

Uses the ditch analogy yet again. It’s muddy, R’s tell Dems they aren’t pushing hard enough — you know the drill. “We’ve got to tell them in this election you can’t have the keys back. You don’t know how to drive!”

Says he and Democrats won in 2008 because of voters who want the American dream.

“That wasn’t the end of the dream. That was only the beginning of the dream.” Implores people to help get out the vote. POTUS spoke for about 12 minutes.

Pool is told the Miami Dade police have circled the GetEQUAL activists’ boats and sirens can be heard.

Now at main dinner tent awaiting a second set of remarks.

UPDATE: They’re in a tent. The fundraiser is a dinner, taking place in a tent, by the water, 500 feet away from GetEqual’s 3 boats that are going crazy with bullhorns and loudspeakers. There is no way the dinner guests aren’t listening to this.

This is the 40 foot banner on boat number two:

UPDATE: 6:10PM the three boats of protesters and media are now 500 feet from the shore at Alonzo Mourning’s home, and are shouting on bullhorns with an extra strong speaker system, and are also broadcasting the President’s own words promising gay rights advances that he has refused to deliver.

Obama’s limo driving by protesters. This is when he cracked the window and waved.

One of the weather balloons released near the Obama fundraiser.

UPDATE: 5:42PM – Robin McGehee of GetEqual, who is on one of the boats heading for Mourning’s house, has just texted “Mission Accomplished.” We assume this means she has reached the position in the water off of the house, and the action is underway, including bull horns, weather balloons with signs, 40ft signs saying “stop the discharges now,” and an extra large/loud sound system booming quotes of the President himself making gay rights promises. All of this underway under the watchful guise of two boats full of media, including the Miami Herald and all the local Miami TV affiliates, and two Spanish stations.

UPDATE 5:37PM: The three boats of protesters and media have just rounded by the bend and are within 5 minutes of reaching Mourning’s house.

UPDATE: President cracked limo and waved to GetEqual protesters, so he definitely saw the signs and protesters.

GetEqual’s press release explains what they’re up to today – the press release reads in the past tense, when in fact the actions are ongoing:

“DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL” ACTIVISTS CONFRONT PRESIDENT OBAMA BY AIR, LAND, AND SEA AT NBA STAR’S FUNDRAISER IN MIAMI
GetEQUAL, along with a group of Florida and national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender activists, surround Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning’s house demanding President sign Executive Order Stopping Discharges

MIAMI, FL (October 11th, 2010)– Earlier Monday evening from 5:00 pm until 6:30 pm (ET), GetEQUAL, a national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, and other Floridian activists, unleashed a barrage of protests by air, land, and sea targeting President Obama for his failure to sign an executive order barring gay and lesbian servicemembers from being discharged under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.

President Obama attended a star-studded Democratic Party fundraiser at NBA star Alonzo Mourning’s bayfront estate. During the hour and a half President Obama was at Alonzo’s home for this big-money, Democratic Party fundraiser, LGBT activists confronted him at every turn, demanding he finally show some leadership and stop the discharges of openly gay and lesbian servicemembers by signing an executive order. Video and photos from today’s action will be released shortly and will be available at: www.getequal.org and www.youtube.com/getequal.

BY LAND

As the Presidential motorcade drove into the private estate located in Coconut Grove, activists held four 10 ft. signs demanding President Obama “End the Discharges Now,” and reminding him that “We’ll Give When We GetEQUAL”. The LGBT activists were stationed on the motorcade route directly outside of the private estate and at a park roughly a quarter of a mile down the road.

Inside the event, Democratic congressional candidate and Army veteran, Anthony Woods, who was discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, approached President Obama to inform him what the protests were about, and to remind him of his campaign promises. [NOTE FROM JOHN: This didn't happen because the White House refused to let Woods attend the even.]

BY SEA

While the President was inside the private fundraiser, another round of protests were unleashed from the bay just outside the event. From the bay abutting Mourning’s home, a second swarm of LGBT activists arrived by boats with two 40 ft. signs and shouted via bullhorns “End the Discharges Now” and “We’ll Give When We GetEQUAL”.

BY AIR

During the second swarm by boat, LGBT activists also launched two, large 8 ft weather balloons carrying 10 ft. long banners reading “GetEQUAL.org”. Those weather balloons were anchored in the water directly in front of the tent hosting the dinner reception and highly visible to guests.

The Advocate reveals that the White House turned away an African-American former congressional candidate, Anthony Woods, from the fundraiser. He thinks it was because he had been discharged under DADT. More from Kerry Eleveld:

A group of LGBT equality activists working to end “don’t ask, don’t tell” launched an elaborate protest early Monday evening as President Barack Obama attended a private Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fund-raiser in Miami, FL, at the home of NBA star Alonzo Mourning.

As the president headed toward Mourning’s Coconut Grove residence where donors had paid as much as ,000 and ,000 per person to see him, members of GetEqual, a national LGBT rights organization, along with local activists intended to line the street holding four, 10-foot signs that read “End the Discharges Now,” and “We’ll Give When We GetEQUAL” – a reference to the group’s recent campaign encouraging people not to donate money to either the Democratic or Republican parties or their campaign committees until the president signs an executive order immediately stopping the discharges.Video of GetEqual and media – one of three boats just launched – heading towards Mourning’s home and Obama fundraiser.

Three full boat-loads of press and protesters have now launched, and are heading towards Mourning’s house by sea….

UPDATE FROM JOHN: Obama has just driven into the estate, and according to witnesses on the ground, the President absolutely saw the protesters.

NOTE FROM JOHN: I’ve just been informed that GetEqual is in the process of protesting the President’s high-dollar fundraiser at the home of Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning. GetEqual members, and local Florida allies, are at this moment lining the streets, protesting the President’s inaction on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and GetEqual has just launched a weather balloon with a GetEqual banner hanging from it – the balloon is drifting in the direction of the Mourning bayside mansion where the fundraiser is being held, and where Obama is currently heading.

Below is GetEqual’s Robin McGehee speaking with reporters near Mourning’s home.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

EqualityNC is sending froot loops to homophobic State Rep.

Matt Comer reports:

Equality North Carolina is taking a humorous, positive and proactive approach to their response to N.C. Rep. Larry Brown.

Brown, a Republican who represents portions of Forsyth County and Kernersville, called LGBT people “queers” and “fruitloops” in an email to 60 Republican colleagues last week.

In an email to supporters today, Equality NC responds:

As of this morning, Rep. Brown has not apologized to his LGBT and allied constituents, nor have any of the 60 colleagues who received the e-mail spoken out against his use of bigoted language.

Well, if it’s fruitloops Rep. Brown wants, then that’s what we’ll give him! From now until Monday, October 11th, at 5pm, each donation you make to Equality NC in Rep. Brown’s name will come with a box of Froot Loops cereal to be delivered to his office, complete with your personal message.

Comer thinks Brown should resign:

Rep. Brown, it is time for you to go. Hate and prejudice have no place in public service.

Unfortunately, hate and prejudice against the LGBT communithy are still accepted in public service. It happens in North Carolina. And, as we saw during the debate on DADT repeal, it happens in DC.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Are Russian Police Sending Fake Text Messages to Make Everyone Think Activist Nikolai Alekseev Is Safe?

Nikolai Alekseev, the Russian activist and Moscow Gay Pride organizer who went missing after an arrest at Moscow's airport, is supposedly safe in Minsk, Bealrus. If he ever wants to return to his mother country, he'll have to disavow his claim in the European Court of Human Rights that state authorities are unfairly discriminating against the gays, and drop his demands that Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov — this jerk — resign. UPDATE: Is an impostor pretending to be Alekseev and text messaging activist friends to make them think he's safe? Not only have Belerussian activists not seen or spoken to him, but when personal questions are asked of Alekseev, there is no SMS response, indicating whomever is sending messages from his phone is not him.


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—  John Wright