's Blog

September 20, 2009

Gardening tops cruising

Filed under: Gay Cruising, Gay News — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 3:57 pm

by Hannah Clay Wareham @

The recent news that’s come to light regarding gay cruising in the Fens (and what gets left behind) has spurned some interesting questions within the LGBT community and greater Boston. A recurring concern is that the Boston Police Department is targeting a minority group of people (the LGBT community; and more specifically, gay cruisers) in their efforts to keep the Victory Gardens clean and vandalism-free.

gardening tops cruising“Any time you ask the police to focus on an area that has a particular community within it, you have to be very careful of how that is handled,” City Councilor Mike Ross said. “My…goal here has been to make sure that legitimate work of the police is done so in a way that is very sensitive to the fact that this is an individual population, and it’s a population that was once and is still a targeted, protected class.”

Charles Martel, a Boston resident who is a plot-owner in the Victory Gardens and a gay man, recalled his neighbor finding a crack pipe and used needles in his plot. “We find not only used condoms, but people have defecated in the aisles. It’s a very gross situation, environmentally,” Martel said. He believes that the increased police presence in the Gardens is due directly to the littering problem. “The issue there really is about…the damage to the gardens. The effort is not about trying to stop the cruising. It is because we’ve had problems with vandalism, with finding drug paraphernalia in the gardens.”

Local attorney and chair of the Anti-Violence Project Don Gorton has been in contact with Dan Linsky, following a request filed by Gorton for a sit-down meeting to discuss the issue. “I received a call from Superintendent Dan Linsky and he assured me that they’re not trying to stop gay cruising,” Gorton said. He hopes to have representatives from Fenway Health and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) present at the meeting to help “resolve issues of perceptions of harassment.”

“As reports of masses of condom debris and extensive vandalism come to light, my hope is that the police are making some effort to differentiate the innocent from the guilty,” Gorton said. “It’s not consistent with due process to blame all loitering gay men in the Fens for wrongdoing and impose a blanket penalty, i.e., exclusion from public land. Yet that’s how police have typically handled citizen complaints of non-criminal gay cruising activity.”

Aside from the prevention of vandalism and illegal (not to mention unhygienic) waste disposal, the city has also undertaken an effort to remodel the Fenway Gardens, a project that includes the removal of the tall reeds, or phragmies, frequented by cruisers.

“The banks of the Muddy River are going to look more like the Esplanade than they are going to look like what they currently look like. There will not be giant reeds, there will not be phragmites, there will not be areas where people can hide out and be obscured from public view,” Ross said. “And that’s going to happen sooner rather than later. In the next couple of years, you’re going to see radical changes in that area, including the removal of the phragmites.”


1 Comment »

  1. I’ve been through the fens and on the Esplanade multiple times in the evening hours. The fens is a walkthrough and the main path is very bright with plenty of pedestrians. Never have I seen it to be a cruising spot. There’s no need to cruise there, as Ramrod and Machine are only a block away.

    If anything, the deeper into the fens you go may be a safe haven to drug users, straight college students, and gay men alike. Moreso, being off the beaten path it can become a refuge for the homeless drug users.


    Install more lights! Make the park light up at night and there’ll be no dank and dirty shadows to hide in.

    Comment by RJ — September 20, 2009 @ 7:37 pm

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