EPISODE 137: Season 2 Premiere: The History of Gay Cruising w/ Alex Espinoza

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Show Notes

PRIDE is back for Season Two! To celebrate the last day of Pride Month, and to kick off the rest of Pride Year, Levi Chambers sits down with queer historian, author, and professor Alex Espinoza to explore the intimate and radical history of gay cruising. Today's four part episode will:

  1. Cover the basics of cruising
  2. Explore its long history
  3. Unlock its secret code
  4. And consider the impact of COVID and dating apps on this enduring sexual practice.   

Alex Espinoza was born in Tijuana, Mexico to parents from the state of Michoacán and raised in suburban Los Angeles. He holds a BA in Creative Writing from the University of California-Riverside and an MFA from UC-Irvine’s Program in Writing. His first novel, Still Water Saints, was published by Random House in 2007 and was named a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection. The book was released simultaneously in Spanish, under the title Los santos de Agua Mansa, California, translated by Lilliana Valenzuela. His second novel, The Five Acts of Diego León, was also published by Random House in March 2013. His fiction has appeared in several anthologies and journals, including Inlandia: A Literary Journey Through California’s Inland Empire, The Southern California Review, Flaunt, and the Virginia Quarterly Review. His essays have been published at Salon.com, in the New York Times Magazine, in The Other Latin@: Writing Against a Singular Identity, in The Los Angeles Review of Books, Los Angeles Magazine, and as part of the historic Chicano Chapbook Series. He has also reviewed books for the LA Times, the American Book Review, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and NPR. His awards include a 2009 Margaret Bridgeman Fellowship in Fiction to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a 2014 Fellowship in Prose from the National Endowment for the Arts, a 2014 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for The Five Acts of Diego León, and a 2019 fellowship to MacDowell. His newest book, Cruising: An Intimate History of a Radical Pastime, was published by The Unnamed Press in June, 2019. Alex is also deeply involved with the Puente Project, a program designed to help first-generation community college students make a successful transition to a university. He lives in Los Angeles with his partner Kyle and is the Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair of Creative Writing.

Be sure to follow Alex on twitter

Your host is Levi Chambers, founder of Rainbo Media Co. You can follow Levi @levichambers across socials.

Follow the show and keep up with the conversation @PRIDE across socials. 

Want more great shows from Straw Hut Media? Check out or website at strawhutmedia.com.  

PRIDE is produced by Levi Chambers, Frank Driscoll, Maggie Boles, Ryan Tillotson, and Brandon Marlo. Edited by Frank Driscoll and Daniel Ferrera.

Have an interesting LGBTQ+ story to share? We might feature U! Email us at lgbtq@strawhutmedia.com.  

*This podcast is not affiliated with Pride Media.


I was sitting at a bus stop. It's a really hot summer day and

this guy pulled up in a car
and just kind of randomly, sort of

he checked me out a couple of
times. He drove by, he stopped,

he looked at me, you know, and you did a couple of

drive bys and then finally, I
think I'm a third time. The third

time he stopped and sort of asked
me if I needed a ride. Uh.

That was my first sort of experience
dealing with Um, this coded language.

I knew that he meant more than
just like a ride, Um,

and so I got in the car
with him and, Um, we ended

up in a in a sort of
abandoned field, UM, and, you

know, we sort of messed around
and the strange thing about that whole experience

was that there was no there was
no manual for how to do it.

I just sort of I just sort
of fell into it. It was natural.

I'm leavi chambers. My pronouns are
he, him, his. I'm

the founder of Rainbow MEDIAC and this
is pride. Each week on pride we

share stories by and for the Queer
community. We unearthed overlooked history, celebrate

community change makers and discuss our collective
trials and triumphs. In today's four part

episode, we take a deep dive
into the age old sexual practice of cruising.

Before apps like grinder made finding a
sexual partner as easy as Swiping Right,

Queer folks would cruise. Today.
We will cover the basics of cruising,

explore its long history, unlock its
secret code and consider the impact of

covid and dating APPs on this enduring
sexual practice. I think it's Um it

was something that almost I kind of
felt was recessed gene and my my DNA.

That was sort of, you know, just meeting the right opportunity need

to sort of awaken and sort of
come out, and suddenly that there it

was. That's Alex Espinoza, an
acclaimed author and English professor in Twe.

He took his experience with gay cruising
and combined it with Historical Research to publish

cruising and intimate history of a radical
pastime, a compelling narrative about the political

and cultural influence of this radical pastime. I can't think of a better expert

to answer our questions about cruising.
Let's dive in. So what is gay

cruising? To answer this question,
we enlisted a cruising expert. Hello everyone,

my name is Alex Espinoza. I
am a writer living in Los Angeles.

So I look at everything from,
you know, the relationship to power

dynamics between men in ancient grecent Rome
to, you know, the molly houses

of Victorian England to, uh,
you know, Um, the the Hayes

codes in Hollywood to, Um,
you know, post World War Two tea

rooms in the US. Uh,
to activists in Uganda and Russia who are,

you know, gay and in the
closet and sort of navigating that world

of anonymous sexual encounters. So the
book is really a sort of comprehensive look

at the practice, time on her
practice and how it's evolved over, Um,

you know, um hundreds of years. Alex holds a bachelor's degree in

creative writing from UC Riverside and a
master's degree from UC IRVINES program in writing.

He's currently an English professor at Riverside, not far from his childhood home.

I grew up in the San Gabriel
Valley. I grew up in Um,

just outside of L A, in
a suburb called Um La Puente.

Alex was born in Tijuana, Mexico. When he was too he came to

suburban Los Angeles with his parents and
siblings. I am the youngest of eleven

children, believe it or not,
and Um, I was born into a,

you know, in a household that
was that was very large, very

very crowded, Um, very noisy
a lot of times. and Um,

I spent, you know, a
good deal of my time, um,

not really having a place of my
own. I really didn't have my own

bedroom, so I used to always, Um, I would sleep out in

the living room. Alex made it
his mission to find something that would drown

out all the noise of the Rowdy
household. What he discovered was literature.

It was books and it was writing
and it was using my imagination. That's

kind of what what what kept me
saying throughout my my early childhood experiences as

a recipient of the Margaret Bridgeman Fellowship
at the bread loaf writer's conference. Alex

also has a few books under his
belt. He published his debut novel Still

Water Saints, in two thousand seven, which appears in the Barnes and noble

discover great new eight Er selection.
His other book, the five acts of

Diego Leon, came six years later, but his recent release constructs a narrative

that is part memoir and part historical
research. The book is All about cruising.

No, we're not talking about driving
down the highway in a convertible with

the top down. This kind of
cruising is a bit more risque. My

Book, cruising, uh, an
intimate history of a radical pastime, looks

at the the time honored practice of
of cruising, of hooking up for anonymous

sexual encounters in public spaces. For
those not in the know, cruising is

the act of looking for a sexual
partner in a public space. Think parks,

public bathrooms or, an Alex's case, a bus stop. Frequently the

arrangement is a one time thing where
both consenting parties go their separate ways.

This kind of understanding between me and
the stranger that we were going to participate

in this act and, you know, I was going to get out of

that car and I was going to
assume my day and we probably would never

see each other again. And it
was the first time that I had an

experience like that and it was incredibly
overwhelming. It was shocking, it was

Um scary, it was erotic.
I felt shame, but I also felt

turned on. So there were a
lot of different sort of emotions that that

came at me at that at that
moment and Um, you know, he

had said something to me. He
said, well, do do if you

have any other friends? Um,
I usually hang out at this park across

the there was a park across the
street from the mall. And he said,

I'm usually, I'm usually there.
And you know, he said he

he was the one that first told
me that guys kind of congregate there,

right, and that was when I
first realized that there were these locations throughout

the city where I was growing up
where guys would, you know, meet

to surreptitiously hook up. After his
initial experience, Alex began to pick up

on the subtle tells of cruising and
took advantage of the opportunities as they presented

themselves. I would be sitting at
the mall during my lunch break and,

you know, random guys would come
up to me and, would you know,

um offer me, you know,
different opportunities to sort of mess around

with them. And I mean it
was there in plain sight, but it

kind of took that one moment to
break the seal, Um, and suddenly

there I was part of this Um
kind of secret world where I could escape

too, and I could participate in
these anonymous sexual encounters, uh, and

then go back to just sort of
living my life. was there? was

there an element of your first time
where, because you did get in the

car with him and then drove to
a field, was there any element of

of it that was that you were
afraid, like what if this guy kills

me? And it was not just
like an unspoken you could just sense that

wouldn't happen. Yeah, I could
just feel it, I could just I

could just tell. But yeah,
there was never a moment where I kind

of felt like, Oh my God, I'm putting myself in danger. I

was the the the allure and the
attraction, Um, was was so was

so powerful that it kind of kind
of trumped everything else. Um, you

know it it sort of it.
It makes you do things and, you

know, rationalized things that you,
I don't think, would normally, you

know, rationalize that that you wouldn't
do. Um, you know, putting

yourself in positions like that. It's
it's like it doesn't you don't see it

that way, right. It's the
danger is kind of what makes it so

attractive, right. The risk is
what makes it so alluring. Talk about

an adrenaline rush. Right, Alex
said, cruising opened him up to a

world where he could meet men and
not feel insecure about who he was or

what he had to offer. It
was a judgment free zone. You know,

you gotta understand. I mean I
was born, Um, you know,

with the disability. I was born, uh, with a condition called

Alopecia where, you know, I've
lost all my hair. I wasn't the

most Um, you know, Um, uh, you know, confident in

myself, right, I didn't possess
a lot of self confidence. I didn't

feel comfortable in my body. I
Um was very insecure. Um, you

know, Um, in, in, in, I felt incredibly Um,

Um, unattractive. And in those
spaces, right, in those anonymous spaces,

none of that mattered, right,
none of that mattered to the men

that I was looking up with.
The only thing that mattered was, um,

this moment of shared passion and and
intensity and sexual intensity that we were

going to exchange. So, Um, for me, it really became an

opportunity to assert myself sexually in a
way that I couldn't otherwise, right,

um. And so I kind of
fell into it. I just sort of,

you know, uh, you know, reveled in it Um but at

the same time it was scary because
this was in the eighties when, you

know, there the AIDS epidemic was
just starting and and so, you know,

there was there was, there was
talk about it, but not a

lot of people didn't know much about
it. So, you know, I

was putting myself in risky situations without
really fully understanding what I was doing.

Right and and a lot of that
was because we were living in a time

when when there was a system in
place that didn't want us to know a

lot of that. The history of
gay cruising dates back several millennia. Many

scholars have discovered homosexuality as far back
as Greek antiquity. There Art, poems,

myths and even philosophical treaties suggest that
all kinds of queer practices light cruising

have occurred throughout time. Well,
you know, I think, I think

what what's interesting in in you know, Greek antiquity and and you know,

ancient Greece and Rome is that our
our perception of what it was to be

gay in those cultures, I think
oftentimes is romanticized. You know, we

have this sort of tendency to think
that like, you know, ancient Greece.

You know, ancient Greek uh society
was really cool with homosexuality. You

know, you see, you see
the vase paintings of like, you know,

men and engaged in, you know, erotic, you know, activities,

and so we have this tendency to
think that it was literally like ancient

Greece was cool with it. Yeah, you could be gay, you can

have orgies and really just like mess
around with guys and nobody would but,

but that really wasn't the case.
I think it was. It was very

regulated. Um. Only men of
a certain status Um Society, on,

you know, in societally, who
Um, who were wealthy, who were

landowners, Um, could afford to
participate in those kinds of activities, right.

Um, it was usually with their
slaves, um that they would sort

of have sexual encounters with and sexual
relationships. Um. A, a man

of nobility could never be the bottom. He always had to be the top,

Um. And and that was because, like you know, a man

of nobility, mobility could never be
penetrated, right, because that was seen

as a sign of of weakness and
submission. Right. So, so they

were really carefully regulated, Um uh, rules that sort of dictated who could

do what. Um. You know, you start to see Um uh in

in ancient greecent Rome, certain areas
where men would go, especially like docks,

where they would go to sort of
parade around and watch each other.

Um. In some of the bath
houses in Rome, you start to see

the Um Um, the sort of
the advent of Um, certain gestures to

sort of signal that you want to
do something. You know, sort of

combing your hair back would be a
sign, Um, that you sort of

were interested in someone. It's slowly
evolved into foot tapping in bathrooms and giving

knowing glances to strangers from across the
room. But the main component of cruising

that has remained the same is the
need for safe public spaces to meet with

other people, because one of the
things that cruising really needs is Um.

It needs people right for it to
happen and it needs public places where there's

UH, like where people are sort
of Um passing through right. It needs

a sort of moment of of it
needs transience right. It Needs Movement UH

to happen. Um. It's not
about stacey necessarily. It's about kind of

movement, about people sort of,
you know, meeting up to with each

other, bumping into each other,
and then participating in in these activities.

Molly houses were kind of like the
first they're like the prototypes of gate clubs.

Really. In Eighteenth Century England,
a molly house was a coffee shop

or tavern where men gathered to socialize
and look for sexual partners. The Term

Molly House derived from Molly Slang,
which meant gay man. You know,

they were secretive, but they also, I think one of the things that

that you start to see with with
the formation of molly houses is Um,

these these sites that weren't Um,
uh changeable, that wouldn't migrate from one

to the other. So, because
they were in specific locations, that meant

that they were targets of rates,
right. So you start to see,

um, the policing of these locations. Um, during the TORRIAN era,

in in a place like London,
Um Molly houses were constantly being rated.

Right. Um there would be uh
informants, men who would sort of go

undercover and pretend to be gay and
uh would hang out in the molly houses

and then, you know, get
information about who was there. Um Men

would get arrested, would be fined, would be thrown in jail, would

be punished kind of in public humiliated
and then a molly house would close down

and then another one would sort of
spring up. I don't need to tell

this audience that homophobia has been around
forever and certainly like what the Society of

reformations Um, all of those organizations
were very much rooted in this sort of

philosophical notion that that that sex between
men Um was wrong, and certainly sex

between men and public was like the
most the worst abomination. A lot of

these organizations were Um operating under this
assumption that that that it was a disease,

that it was an illness, that
it was an infection that needed to

be stamped out right, that,
you know, in order for a society

to be Um, you know,
pure and noble and righteous, those kinds

of activities just couldn't, you know, Um, uh, you know,

we couldn't allow those to breed,
to be, you know, to breed

and to to flourish. So Um
there was an attempt to buy not just,

you know, the church, but
law enforcement police to really kind of

stamp out that kind of behavior because
it was viewed as kind of a stain.

In every new era of cruising there
was a system trying to end the

practice. The office of the night
was created to curb through criminalization, the

act of sodomy and Renaissance Florence,
pederasty patrols and mooches Pirst gay men.

In Eighteenth Century Paris, the Society
of the reformation of manners performed the same

function in contemporary London. Alex said, all of these efforts ultimately backfired.

They were really powerful and they could
affect a lot of change right and arrest

men and really change Um, policies
and practices, but that didn't stop men

from doing it right. Like if, if we're one, if one thing

that we are is when it when
it, when it comes to sort of

our culture is we're determined. If
we want to have sex, we're determined

to get it right, like we're
gonna have it no matter what. and

Um, you know, the Algbtq
community, certainly, Um, you know

uh, exemplified that when when it
came to a lot of these rules that

were put in place to stamp out
this kind of behavior. So do you

think that society then that it's interest
in preventing cruising is that? Is that

more founded in preventing a public nuisance
like being drunk in public? is also

something that's, you know, frowned
upon and for for whatever obvious reasons.

Do you think that society's Um attempt
to subdue it and make it go away

is more about preventing public nuisance or
about silence and queerness in public? I

think it's both. Actually, I
think it's both. I think a lot

of times it's, you know,
you can't, you can't, sort of

you can't uncouple one from the other. I think it's, you know,

it's just like with prostitution, right
Um. You know, Oh, we

gotta, we gotta, you know, like it's it's it's such a it's

such a stain. You know,
we can't, we certainly can't have this

happening. But also it's this this
aberration of a Um, you know,

a subculture, right, a subculture
that Um has over time, always um

sort of gone against, I think, any perceived notions of what it means

to be an upstanding individual, right
Um. So I think both. Really,

it's this this impulse and desire to
sort of like, you know,

clean things up, but also,
like, you know, policing and trying

to regulate the, you know,
the activities of of Um, those you

know, Horny game in when we
come back trade secrets, CDC recommendations and

dating APPs. Before the break,
Alex mentioned picking up on the subtle tells

of cruising. But how can you
know for sure if someone is cruising?

Alex says there's this almost made up
language for it, but you have to

pay attention to pick up on it. I came to find out in researching

my book that a lot of other
men that I talked to, that that

I interviewed for this book, had
similar experiences where they would encounter individuals and

there was an ever anything spoken.
It was just kind of this understanding that

something was going to happen Um and
we all sort of talked about that.

That strange sort of thing that binds
us right this, this moment where we

sort of give each other a glance
and we know that something is going to

happen right and we just kind of
follow through it. That's how it's always

been over the course of hundreds of
years when men have hooked up, and

it's what makes it so um,
I think, such a unique aspect of

our of our culture, of of
of the LGBTQ community. Unless you know

what you're looking for, it's likely
you will pass through the cruising grounds and

not even know it. Like even
if a straight person knew, you know,

Um knows about cruising. You know, they might not necessarily know that

the bathroom at the J C Penny
that they're using as a cruizy spot.

Right, you need to be in
the note to know that. To that

person, to a straight married man
who's out shopping with his family, that

bathroom is just a bathroom, right, but but to those of US navigating

that sort of in between world,
right, that liminal space, that bathroom

is not just the bathroom, but
it's a cruising spot. Right. So

I think that, Um, I
think that it, you know it.

It certainly sort of keeps these sort
of illusion alive, but I think at

the same time it is it's it's
an aspect that's wholly our own and,

you know, I don't think it
perpetuates necessarily this sort of idea of of

closeted culture. Um, you know, I think that it it's just another

form for queer men, another another
way for Queer men to meet up,

Um, to have moments of of
of exchange, just like at a bar,

or at a restaurant or at a
party, right, Um, it's

just another form of that and and
Um, you know, I think that

it's you know, it's Um.
It's unique in that way. We briefly

discussed some of the trade secrets men
used for cruising. A light tap of

the foot in the restroom or alonging
gaze in the park, through through those

of you that out there that watch
America's next top model. Um tyra banks

is big on smizing. Right.
She really sort of can't define what it

is, but it's almost like a
sort of a one of those like this

sort of UN spoken, uh,
communication that happens between individuals. The clearing

of the throat can also indicate cruising. But at the end of the day,

Alex says, the key is patients. It's really a when you know

you know situation, there's an energy
that you feel, uh, that there's

an exchange that you feel between that
individual that tells you like, okay,

this person wants to have some fun, right, Um, but you have

to be patient because you also don't
want to misconstrue somebody Um actions, you

know, verbal or nonverbal. You
always have to be really careful about that.

So it also takes a lot of
patients. You have to you have

to practice patients and Um, you
have to know the boundaries. You know,

like no, if you're at a
stall and you know you're going to

the bathroom, you know, you
have to know when to look and see

if the other person is looking at
you right. Um, you know,

and you just sort of kind of
have to feel it. You know it

when it when it's happening. Um. But don't you know, there are

those tells, like you know,
like I said, like the physical ones,

but also the tricky thing is is
you can't rely on those because somebody

might just be tapping their foot.
You know, I do that all the

time. You know, it's just
a tick. I have my footfalls asleep

and I start wiggling it around right
and and so you know, you just

have to kind of that's what makes
it so hard is you can't I can't

give you a definitive answer. I
can't say like, Oh, it seems

definitely somebody doing that. If that
guy's doing that, then he's cruising you.

You could just be doing that right
you. You have to be as

a as a as a person cruising. You have to be willing to Um.

Allow Um, though, allow yourself
to slow down in that moment,

allow yourself to really, Um,
see what's happening, to observe, I

think, the world around you in
ways that we're just not taught too right.

There's too much noise and distraction around
us, and cruising really sort of

forces us to sit and be and
to understand and start picking up verbal and

nonverbal cues in ways that, just
like our our antenna, isn't sort of,

you know, able to oftentimes pick
up that frequency. Alex says cruising

has a similar foundation to meditation,
meaning it takes a lot of practice checking

in with yourself and existing in the
moment. And what cruising does is it

sort of forces us to to start
messing with the dial a little bit until

we get that okay, I see
it, I see it, Um,

and that's what makes it so so
special. Right is not everybody can can

can not everybody has that patience,
right, Um, and you, you

really do have to hone it and
practice it. It's like meditating. You

know, when you start meditating,
you're like, why am I thinking about?

You know what happened the other day, and you know the whole purpose

of meditating. Meditating, it's like, Um, just being in the moment,

right, just sort of checking in
with yourself. Cruising in a lot

always is that. It is just
sort of like slowing things down, being

in that moment right Um, and
seeing what that other person is is interested

in. But Not all conversations around
cruising are unspoken. While compiling interviews and

excerpts for his book, Alex was
able to open a conversation with other men

who had experienced cruising. In these
interactions, he discovered that other people were

dying to talk about their experiences as
much as he was. It was like

opening the floodgates, Um, it
was like getting something, just something off

of their chest right, like,
oh my God, finally I can talk

about this incident that I had with
this hot dude, you know, back

in you know, two thousand,
in the bathroom of my college, Right.

Nobody's ever asked me about that.
I kept that a secret this whole

time and suddenly here I am like
saying, no, tell me about it.

Oh my God, let me tell
you right. And I think that

we need to start normalizing that a
little bit more, you know, we

need to start being a little more
honest, uh, and, and I

mean look what George Michael did,
like when he got arrested. He didn't

he didn't apologize for what he was
like, yeah, you know, I

tried hooking up with somebody in the
bathroom. So what I'M gonna I'm gonna

make a song about it, right, I'm gonna. He wrote a song

that's outside. is his Um,
you know, his his song about,

you know, having sex outside,
and the whole video is kind of making

fun of and Poking Fun of this
whole uh culture of of policing our bodies

right and and having sex outside.
And, you know, there are worse

things in the world that we can
be doing, but yet here we are

sort of caught up in this idea
that like we need to stamp this out,

and he kind of reveled in that
and I kind of, you know,

I admire him for that and I
think we need to start doing that

a little more and we need to
stop being a little less embarrassed or feeling

like we're the only ones that that
kind of do that right. We're not.

How has the pandemic affected cruising?
I mean I would think to some

degree. Obviously, when parks were
closed and things like that during the real

harsh lockdowns early on in the pandemic, I mean everything was closed, but

how did the pandemic effect cruising well
at first with you, yeah, which

you saw was a lot of during
the early days. He saw a lot

of virtual like creezing, like let's
do cam to Cam Right Um, which

you know is you know, I'm
not, I'm not one of the sort

of poopo anybody's sexual proclivities, but
personally, for me that doesn't really do

much right. I, you know, a lot of us really crave the

you know, the actual contact,
the feel. Um. I think that

what ended up happening was you started
to see a lot of emphasis placed on,

when things sort of slowly started to
open up again, a lot of

emphasis on outdoors, on you know, this idea that like if you were

outdoors, things are a little safer
because you know you're in the fresh air

and and you know there's distance in
space ace. Believe it or not,

some recommendations for safe hookups came directly
from the centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC recommended that if gay men
were going to have sex, the

best kind of sex to have would
be through a glory home, because there's

the partition between you and the individual, like how we all are with hand

sanitizer and disinfecting wipes at home.
The same is true for casual hookups.

You start to see a level of
of the eroticizing of of of the cleaning

and the sanitizing of certain areas that
we're going to be used. Um.

So that's kind of how it it
changed. It changed kind of our our

our understanding of of, you know, our our mortality and and and and

during the pandemic. And also,
you see, like a lot of sites

now are not just as it like
you know, now you can state your

HIV status that you can also state
your covid status right, like vaccinated.

Yes, you know, uh,
date right at these dating apps have evolved

to where you can check if they
have their booster before you swipe right.

I sort of realized, and researching
my book and looking at all these different

eras of cruising, is that,
just like everything else, it's evolving.

Right, it's becoming something else,
and I think that, you know,

with APPs like you know, scrouff
and grinder and and, Um, you

know, Um, uh, there
are there are some websites that will list

specific cruising locations right, and you
can go and see like. Okay,

there was a comment about an hour
ago somebody saying that they're there. Right,

I think that those, I think
that there. You know, they

they are a form of cruising.
I think that removes, to some degree

or the other, the spontaneity of
it. Right. I like to say

it's like what, it's the same
thing that, Um, what Uber and

lift did too, like taxi driving, right to picking up and hailing a

taxi. Um, you can still
do that. You can still pick up

a taxi if you're out on the
street, like wave somebody down, right,

or you can call Uber and have
somebody pick you up at a specific

time and take you somewhere, right. So it kind of removes the spontaneity,

but the spontaneity is still there.
Right. So I see I see

I see APPs as as just another
tool to help us sort of cruise.

Right. Um, you know some
some people, you know, some people

say like the the old like tried
and true, you know, cruisers of

the seventies and eighties, you know, would would argue against that and say

no, like cruizing and its nature
is randomly finding somebody in the bathroom,

right. And and yeah, that's
true, but but I think it's also,

you know, going on on squirt
and seeing like hey, there's there's

somebody who's going to go to the
bathroom, you know, at the macy's

near me and you know they kind
of they kind of have a nice,

you know body, like I'm gonna
go and see if I can hook up

with them, right, Um.
So I think it's both of those things.

I think that it's just these are
just more tools to help us kind

of navigate that right. Um.
So, yeah, I'm kind of in

the camp that it's it's it's kind
of morphing, it's changing into something very

different, and I think, I
don't think that that's necessarily a bad thing.

Alex says, cruising also stands out
from dating APPs because it removes vanity

from the equation. That's one of
the truest powers of it, right,

is that it kind of allows for
that, Um, you don't necessarily have

to get too hung up on on
looks or because, I mean, I'm

you know, I don't consider myself
the most attractive individual, but it you

know, you know, and I
say this in the book, and excuse

me for sounding incredibly, you know, crassed if I do, I apologize,

but you know, I I discovered
through cruising that, um, there

was something very unique about my anatomy, right, that that I think,

Um, I hadn't, I hadn't
really Um, considered, right, I

really hadn't considered that that was one
of my best features. How could I

say that to people, right?
I mean, I don't want to do

porn right, but like, how
could I say that to people? And

and in those spaces, you know, Um, you know, I kind

of my my disability and all of
the things that sort of made me feel

inferior. None of that mattered.
All that mattered to those men was what

I had to offer, and they
liked what I had to offer. Um,

and, you know, it allowed
me to hook up with men who

I wouldn't otherwise have had a chance
with, right, who are attractive or

who, you know, look a
certain way. But there I was,

you know, with them, having
them do things to me that, you

know, if I picked them,
if I went to a bar and saw

them like, they wouldn't give me
the time of day. But suddenly there

we are, and there's something really
Um cool about that. There's something really

Um validating about that. Although the
active cruising has historically been frowned upon by

our heteronormative society, and has more
recently had to adapt to covid and evolve

with the rise of dating APPS.
History tells US cruising is here to stay.

No matter how many times our society
tries to Um, uh, you

know, push it underground, it'll
find a way uh to Um, to

come back right, it'll find a
way to flourish and and it's certainly evident

in the sort of historical Um analysis
of the practice of cruising. is every

every single time Um, you know, uh, individuals have tried to put

a stop to it. It sort
of it just roots itself stronger and and,

you know, Um continues to evolve
in ways that are surprising. To

learn more about the complexities of cruising
and its existence throughout history, you can

pick up Alex's book cruising, an
intimate history of a radical pastime. You

know, I'm a big supporter of
indie bookstores. Uh. So, if

there's an indie bookstore near you,
or you know indie bound, Um,

you know any uh bookshop dot org, you can find the book anywhere and

Um. Yeah. So, so
check your local bookstores. Um, they

should have a copy of it.
If not, you can order it.

So anywhere, you can find it
anywhere. Pride is a production of Straw

hut media. If you like the
show, leave us at rating and review

on Apple podcasts, spotify, wherever
you listen to podcasts. Then follow us

on Tiktok, instagram, facebook,
twitter and snapchat at pride and tune in

weekly for more episodes. Be Sure
to share this episode with your friends and

subscribe for more stories from Amazing Queer
people. If you'd like to connect with

me, you can follow me everywhere
at Levi Chambers. Pride is produced by

me Levi Chambers, Frank Driscoll,
Maggie Bowls, Ryan Tillottson and Brandon Marlowe.

Edited by Frank Driscoll and Daniel Ferrara.
The LGBTQ experience is more than just a rainbow flag, it’s a movement. The PRIDE podcast hosted by Levi Chambers celebrates every person under the queer umbrella wit... View More




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