October 14, 2009
October 5, 2009
Jun 4th, 2009 by Ashleigh Elson @ blogs.rnw.nl
Holland – and especially Amsterdam – has been known for some time as a gay-friendly place.
And now it’s going to a whole new level.
Apparently, an Amsterdam park has put up signs designating areas where gay cruising tends to happen and where guys are getting it on… after the city council received complaints about the sexual activities taking place in de Oeverlanden Park.
Our colleague Eric Beauchemin did a video about the story:
The park, De Oeverlanden, has been known for decades as a gay cruising area. Some say it’s the most popular one in Holland. Recently, there has been a rise in violence in the park, with robberies, aggression and abuse. The local chapter of the COC, Holland’s main organisation for gays and lesbians, hopes the sign will make the area safer for everyone.
The city council of Slotervaart, a district in southwest Amsterdam, posted the gay cruising signs as well as signs designating areas where children can play and people can walk their dogs (presumably without running into a couple of guys going at it).
According to one of the district’s councillors, “It’s our duty as a city council to warn people about what’s happening here. As long as the men do not have sex in public, where they can be seen, I have no problem with it”.
September 24, 2009
By Jessica Geen @ pinknews.co.uk
A Yorkshire-based sexual health charity has been attacked for reportedly nailing bags of condoms to trees in gay cruising areas.
Residents near the Kirklees and Calderdale site say the Brunswick Centre is overstepping the line and making the problem worse.
Litherop Lane, between Clayton West and High Hoyland, is a well-known site for men meeting for sex and is listed on a number of cruising websites.
Earlier this month, local man Christopher Hartley was found shot dead in the area. He was alleged to be running a heterosexual sex tourism business.
Local councillor Jim Dodds told the Huddersfield Examiner he had tried to ask the charity to stop distributing condoms in the area but had been accused of homophobia.
He said: “If you put seed on the ground for birds they will flock to it. By doing this they are only attracting more people down.
“We think people ought to do this sort of thing in the privacy of their own homes.
“They shouldn’t be offering facilities for lots more to do it.”
According to the newspaper, the Brunswick Centre was criticised two years ago for a link on its website which led to a pornographic cruising website. A former employee said it was encouraging men with wives and girlfriends to seek risky sex.
When PinkNews.co.uk approached the charity, it declined to comment.
September 20, 2009
by Hannah Clay Wareham @ baywindows.com
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.
“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.”
BY STEPHEN BROPHY @ fenwaynews.blogspot.com
Residents of the West Fens have noticed an increased police presence in the Victory Gardens recently, mostly because they frequently saw a car sitting just inside the park with blue lights flashing. The police presence hasn’t so much increased as it has changed its form, according to Officer Joe Zanoli of the Boston Police Department’s District 4 Media Office.
“When the mounted patrols were discontinued earlier this year, some residents worried that their absence in the park might lead to an increase in some of the illegal activities that go on after dark,” he told The Fenway News. “I sat in on several meetings with concerned residents in which we assured them that we would use foot patrols, bikes and police cars to continue our surveillance of the area.”
The Victory Gardens have been a meeting place for gay men for many decades, and from time to time complaints about the public sex and the detritus left behind has risen to a crescendo. Given the widespread knowledge of the Gardens as a gay cruising site, the area has also been a magnet for anti-gay violence, especially during the summer months. Fenway Health has been tracking this violence for several years now. When contacted about the increased police presence, Fenway Health released the following statement:
“‘Fenway Health’s Violence Recovery Program is in regular contact with the Boston Police Department around issues that affect the LGBT community,’ said Kelcie Cooke, Coordinator of the Violence Recovery Program. ‘It is our understanding that the recent uptick in police activity in the Back Bay Fens is the result of increased reports of violence and vandalism and is intended to enhance the safety of those who use the park. We continue to maintain open communications with the police to help ensure that everyone who uses our public parks can do so without the fear of harassment or assault.”
In a possibly related development, more than 40 gardens were vandalized on August 23, with their gates being bashed in, fence posts uprooted, and fence wiring destroyed with wire cutters. While no one has yet been identifed or charged with this destruction, some gardeners theorize that it might be a sort of retaliation for the increased police visibility.
A version of this article was published in the September 2009 Fenway News.
September 19, 2009
The Little Black Book
This one can keep you out of trouble
If you cruise in parks, bathrooms or other spaces open to public view, trust your instincts, be aware of your surroundings — and know your rights. While Lambda Legal and other groups are fighting against the ways police target men who have sex with men, having sex where others might see you and take offense can subject you to arrest, publicity and other serious consequences. If you feel unsafe, you should leave.
Always carry identification in case you get hurt or arrested.
Providing your ID (driver’s license, green card, passport) may decrease your chances of spending time in jail, especially if you don’t have a criminal record. If the police stop you, they may instead give you a summons (which tells you the charge and when to appear in court) and let you go.
Remember cops may be “cruising” too.
Be aware that undercover cops may be “cruising” to arrest you. A cop doesn’t have to tell you he’s a cop, even if you ask. If you’re cruising for sex and an undercover cop hits on you, what you do can still be a crime. Don’t count on proving the cop “entrapped” you (which is difficult). Talk to your lawyer if you think you were set up.
Make sure that anyone you have sex with is over the age of consent.
Having sex with a minor is a serious crime with heavy punishment.
Understand that many laws could be used against you.
Thanks to a Lambda Legal U.S. Supreme Court win, all laws that banned consensual sex by adults in private, including oral and anal sex, have been struck down. But other laws, like those against sex where you might be seen by others, adultery and prostitution laws, or laws against criminal transmission of HIV — might still be used against you.
Protect yourself and others against the risk of HIV and other diseases. Be aware of your surroundings and the possibility of being beaten or robbed.
If you cruise on-line let someone know your plans.
Tell them where you’re going, the person you are meeting, and when you expect to be back — or write a note on your computer with this information.
IF YOU’RE ARRESTED
Stay calm. Provide identification but don’t answer any questions without a lawyer.
Anything you say can be used against you.
Try to remember the details surrounding the arrest, including:
Ask to talk to a lawyer
Don’t make any decisions without talking to a lawyer first. The biggest mistakes you can make are panicking, trying to get it over with quickly by “confessing,” trying to talk your way out of the problem, or trying to deal with the police on your own. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. A conviction or plea agreement may affect your chances of later becoming a citizen, or put you at risk for deportation. If you can’t afford a lawyer, you may be entitled to a public defender free of charge. Ask to have one appointed before you make any statements to the police or in court – it’s your right.
Find a good lawyer if you don’t already have one.
Your lawyer should be a criminal defense attorney, who understands the law and the courts where the arrest occurred.
Write everything down.
Write down all the details as soon as possible, and share them only with your attorney. Ask your attorney who else it is safe to talk to in confidence.
Know your legal options
Make sure you understand the charges and discuss all the possible outcomes with your lawyer, including the consequences of any plea or conviction. These could include:
Tell your lawyer about any confidential circumstances.
Be sure to tell your lawyer whether you have a relationship with anyone who you don’t want to find out about your arrest.
Ask your lawyer questions, including:
It’s okay to use anonymous hotlines to ask questions, and talk about your experience. Call Lambda Legal and your local legal or anti-violence group for help and information on finding an attorney.
September 16, 2009
August 27, 2009
Cruising is a term used by men to describe the practice of sending and receiving verbal and non-verbal signals, which show that you are attracted to someone else. There are various methods of cruising ranging from subtle to extremely direct methods, and men “cruise” each other in various different places and settings i.e. street, saunas, bars, parks, internet etc. Cruising is just another way that men express their desire and attraction to each other. To many men there is a certain thrill or excitement attached to cruising but it can also potentially involve putting yourself in the way of harm. Therefore, it is important to minimise these risks and help avoid any danger to yourself or others.
In order to cruise safely here are some helpful tips:
1. When you arrive, have a good look around and identify possible escape routes in case of an emergency. It might also be worth visiting the area during the day to get a sense of space, routes, open and enclosed areas etc.
2. Try not to carry any valuables on your person such as wallet, jewellery or phone.
3. Bring condoms and lubricant with you if you intend on having sex – don’t assume the other person will have brought some. It might be a good idea to bring some anyway (just in case things go further than expected).
4. If cruising over the internet, avoid giving out personal information such as address, primary email address, telephone number etc.
5. Meet in a public place to begin with – you can then decide if you want to continue on with the relationship.
6. If sending a photo – avoid nude and explicit shots. Remember, these can be copied and distributed.
7. If posting a photo on your profile, avoid nude and explicit shots as anyone can access these.
8. If possible, tell a friend when you intend on going through a text, email or phone call.
9. If meeting for a drink, watch what you drink and stay in control. Avoid leaving your drink unattended because of the risk of your drink being spiked.
10. If cruising in a sauna, remember to keep hydrated, particularly if you’ve been drinking or taking drugs. Also, carry condoms and lubricant on your person by placing them under the strap on your keychain.
11. Never use Amyl nitrate or Butyl nitrate (poppers) with Viagra. Both work by opening blood vessels to allow greater blood flow and together, can cause heart failure (even in men who have no history of heart problems).
12. Remember that cruising should be fun and safe, if you feel unsure or think things are heading in a direction you don’t feel comfortable with – leave. You are under no obligation to do anything with anyone.
13. The Rainbow Project discourages you from any sexual behaviour in public places – whilst cruising itself isn’t illegal, having sex in public areas could lead to you being arrested and charged with a criminal offence.
The Rainbow Project does not recommend cruising or cottaging due some elements of it which are illegal, and due to the dangers associated with attacks and unsafe sex. However if you decide to go for it keep these following tips in mind to ensure a safe and pleasant experience:
- Bring plenty of condoms and lube and insist on safer sex; respect yourself and your health!
- Be discreet when having sex. The more discreet you are the less chance there is of police activity or gay bashers.
- Only go cruising when you are not too drunk or on drugs. You will need to be on your guard at all times
- Leave your wallet and ID at home. Some attacks involve robbery and you do not want your identity to become known to your attacker.
- Wear clothes and shoes you can run in and do not wear headphones.
- Before you start checking out the men, check out the surroundings for exists and escape routes
- Be aware that some gay basher might pretend to be gay. Trust your instincts!
- Take any used condoms, wrappers etc. home with you. This kind of litter will draw complaints and police attention.
Being at a cruising or cottaging area is not illegal, but having exposing yourself or having sex in public where someone could see you is without doing something unusual like looking peeking underneath a cubicle door or taking out the binoculars.
If you get arrested, stay calm, co-operate but only give your name and ask for a solicitor. The solicitor will advise you on your rights and what to say and is bound by client confidentiality.
If you get attacked remember that this is a crime, whether or not you were involved in something illegal. Report the attack to the local police station and ask to speak to the Minority Liaison Officer. Someone from The Rainbow Project can escort you if you prefer someone else there. If you are not sure about reporting the attack, come and speak to someone in Rainbow first to consider your options.
SAFER CRUISING ON THE INTERNET
When you are mentally healthy you feel good about yourself, enjoy relationships, learn confidently and overcome your difficulties. When you aren’t, you may feel overwhelmed by misery, anger or fear.
- You do not know who you are talking to; in a chat room anyone can pretend to be anyone and any age.
- Do not give out your home address or landline number or any other details until you have met the person and trust them.
- When you arrange to meet up let someone know where you are going to be and arrange for them to contact you during the meeting and let the person you are meeting know you have made these arrangements.
- Do not get too drunk; you need to stay on your guard and your performance now or later might not make the best impression.
- You are under no obligation to have sex with the person you are meeting up with. If you decide to go ahead insist on safe sex and bring condoms and lube.
- No chat room company will allow their staff to contact customers. If you are being blackmailed contact the Minority Liaison Officer at your local PSNI office.
For the safest form of cruising visit a gay sauna. After paying an entrance fee you will be in a safe and clean environment with like-minded people and condoms and lube freely available and it is legal! Going to a gay sauna does not mean you have to have sex; some men go just for the company or just to relax and be themselves. Most saunas provide a service where you can make an appointment with a member of staff to show you around the facilities first if you are nervous about going.