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Directions To Prospect Park's Gay Cruising Areas

While we're talking about Prospect Park amenities, there's one amenity that we have yet to find in any fundraising literature: the wooded areas on the east side of the park are notable gay cruising spots. We here at Hawthorne Street feel that the Prospect Park Alliance would do well to better identify these areas. That way, wandering moms with Baby Bjorns wouldn't be so surprised when they happened upon naked men, and tourists looking for a quick BJ would know where to go. What do you think?

Gay-cruising-prospect-park

Comments

Kim

Yikes! since I doubt the PP Alliance will come out with any literature on where these spots are, could you please tell us specifically where they are? I like to go on 'adventures' with my son, but we don't need this adventure, thanks!

AM

What makes you think that such activity as you mention would occur gay cruising spot? The whole rest of the park is a straight cruising area and does it happen there? I usually enjoy this blog but this post is incredibly homophobic and full of hatred.

josh

Might it possibly be because last summer walking through that area I stumbled upon a clearing with (and I'm not exagerating) hundreds of used condom wrappers littering the ground. I have never seen this elsewhere in the park. Very creepy - sorry, does not make for a pleasant stroll.

cmar7785

I have NO idea what you are talking about. I go through the woods quite often and have NEVER seen anything similar to what you are mentioning. This post is so offensive. That's all I will say.

hdaisy

i'd have to agree with am. this post seems out of place and is disappointing

tricia

if you haven't run into that then consider yourself lucky. a couple of years ago i decided to try a new 'route' in the park while out with my two boys, 6 yr and 4yr at the time. a few days later i convinced my husband to come along with us - he who hates any kind of outdoor activity. well as luck would happen, we got lost, couldn't remember the path that i had taken with the kids. all of sudden, with my husband and two boys we see all these guys running, pulling up their pants and MORE!!!!!!!! we grabbed the kids, covered their eyes and ran as fast as we could. years later i get freaked out by that yet it makes me laugh. the husband won't go anywhere with me that is not a big highlighted path, and was stays with me was the diversity that i saw in those woods that day. black, white, young and old. additionally, there were a couple of dads along with their babies in the stroller who seemed to know where they were.

i'm all for choice, but there should be markings so those of us strolling don't 'accidentally' walk into surprises!

Charles Star

Not only have I seen used condom wrappers, cmar, I have seen men in flagrante delicto more than once. It is not a secret that Prospect Park has gay cruising areas even if you didn't know it. Is it homophobic to acknowledge a known thing?

I support gay sex and lots of it. The only thing that is at all bothersome is that the cruising goes on in semi-public during the day, when an unsuspecting person on a nature walk can inadvertently run into people having sex. Is that homophobic?

diak

Josh, All you found were the wrappers? Lucky you. As a member of a volunteer grounds crew in Prospect Park, I can tell you it isn't uncommon to find locations with the wrappers, the condoms, the liquor bottles, the crack pipes, the discarded clothing, the food remains, etc etc all left behind.
Who knows? This time maybe it was straight people. Gay or straight, it's a disgusting abuse of our Park. Having sex in public is inappropriate, not to mention illegal. So is turning the Park into a private dumpsite. I don't think we need signs pointing to areas designated for this purpose.

Lastly, I think the accusation that the HS post smacks of homophobia is ludicrous. It reminds me of the replies a few weeks ago that called out critical comments re dumping piles of rotting chicken parts in the park for being insufficiently sensitive to unfamiliar religions. Seems that to some, anything goes. Except criticizing anti-social behavior...

Matt

So where is Flagrante Delicto? Is that near the Vale of Cashmere? Olmsted and Vaux sure had a thing for funny names...

ceelledee

Diak, that's a good post and I agree with all you've said. I write only to note that the poultry parts that were dumped in the park were eventually attributed to an anti-social butcher and not an anti-social, unfamiliar religious group. And, btw, thanks for your work as a volunteer cleaning up our park!

Sharon Stapel

As a neighbor and someone who works to end violence against LGBT people, I have to concur with the idea that this post is encouraging a level of intolerance and bias that is unacceptable. The assumptions that only gay folks have sex in the park (check out any heterosexual couple on a blanket on a given Saturday in June) or that gay men are solely responsible for the condom use (let's hope we're all being safe) are blatantly biased and singles out gay men for attack and arrest. In a city that already targets LGBT people (and people of color, and immigrants) for false arrest on a daily basis, including allegations of "public indecency," these kinds of posts only perpetuate this culture. I don't think there's anything wrong with being naked in the park, but if the issue is nudity, why are we only talking about gay men, when there are lots of other people naked in park? If the issue is trash, let's talk about organizing the community to encourage folks to throw all of their trash away. If the issue is "offense" taken to other people's "lifestyles" then we're talking about homophobia. I'm disappointed in Hawthorne Street, a blog I generally love to read. I don't expect my neighbors to encourage violence or bias against any group of people but that's what HS is doing with this post.

Charles Star

I appreciate your comment Sharon, but I simply don't agree. What's more, I think you are intentionally blurring lines and creating facts to make a political point. We did not - explicitly or implicitly - encourage violence against anyone in the LGBT community. To claim that we did is, frankly, appalling and is a bullying tactic intended to stifle discussion.

For example, you refer to sex in the park "on a blanket on a given Saturday..." Is this something you've actually seen? This is not about people - gay or straight - necking on a blanket in Nethermead. It is about people fucking on the nature paths.

You mention "nudity" in the park, but ... who is naked in the park? The only time I've seen a naked person in the park, he was getting a hummer in the woods. We also disagree on whether nudity in the park is appropriate to begin with. You are reading into the post an approval of heterosexual nudity that isn't there. Cover your privates in the park, everyone.

It isn't about litter.

It is a red herring to claim that anyone took "offense" to anyone's "lifestyle." We made a tongue-in-cheek joke about the phenomenon of people having sex in the woods in the park near our neighborhood during the day. The objection here - and it wasn't even much of an objection - is pure "time and place", not the sexuality of the participants nor the fact that they are having sex. Reading too much into the post does a disservice to us and to the real problems of homophobia and discrimination.

Matt

Reading hate, homophobia, or the encouragement of violence into the original post is an absurd exercise in political correctness, made by people looking for things to be offended by. The Vale of Cashmere has been a gay cruising area for a century. It is not homophobic to point this out. The issue is that we live in a broadly homophobic culture that leaves these men few alternative sanctioned spaces.

A birdwatcher friend of mine was doing a study on Great Horned Owls in The Ramble in Central Park, wandering around at midnight. The other nocturnal denizens of the park were actually extremely helpful in locating the owls. So as you can see, everyone has a place in a cosmopolitan society.

In other news, they caught the chicken guts guy, and he wasn't a vodou priest? What's the story?

Aaron

I don't think any homophobia is intended, but there does seem to be a problematic conflation of "cruising" with overt sexuality (read: "naked men," and "quick BJ"). I think part of the accusative responses have been due to an all-too-familiar reduction of people who practice non-straight sexual behaviors to their very sexuality. The whole park is a place for people to "cruise," and any time I find a used condom I feel a little disgusted, but there's a big difference between looking for sexual partners in public and public sex. What's offensive about the post, at least to me, is that it elides that difference.

Further, if you just wanted warnings about where folks are likely to hit on each other, then singling out the one dominantly queer spot would be at least implicitly homophobic. If you just wanted warnings about common sites for public sexuality, then making reference to the kind of sexuality as "gay" is explicitly homophobic.

On the other hand, if you want to let people know about places in the park in which public sex is happening, well then that seems entirely legitimate, and here's another spot to add to the list: the benches by the rustic arbor overlooking the Lullwater.

Charles Star

Aaron, the post is meant to refer exclusively to a place where public sex is happening. I apologize for any confusion, though I thought the post was pretty clear. We are not defining cruising to mean "flirting," it is being used - expressly, I thought - to mean "meeting for impromptu anonymous sex."

Otherwise, as you said, the whole park is a cruising area for everyone and there is nothing worthy of comment at all.

diak

Charles, I think you're being very patient with commenters throwing some pretty ugly stuff at you. Hats off. And I think it would be helpful if we heard from commenters — gay and straight — about what they mean when they say someone is "homophobic." My sense from this thread is that some are using the word as an accusation equivalent to "racist" while others seem to imply something closer to "insensitive." Personally I think your post was neither and that the "homophobe" label is now getting thrown out so casually over any slight, perceived or actual, that the word is becoming meaningless...

Matt, I completely agree with your remarks re political correctness but I'd like to take issue with your conclusion in that paragraph:

"The issue is that we live in a broadly homophobic culture that leaves these men few alternative sanctioned spaces."

It would be foolish to suggest that gays have achieved anything like full equality in our society, but I think it's equally foolish to pretend that it's still 1960. Now admittedly, I'm not gay, nor am I a psychologist or a sociologist, but I'm guessing that a person in Brooklyn, New York in 2010 who's having sex behind a tree in a public park is doing so because that's what he (or she) enjoys and not for lack of "alternative spaces."
I mean, really, go on Craigslist, make a friend, get a room...

Thomas

Hawthorne Street acknowledges it made a joke of the subject. Why did you choose to make light of this particular subject? Would a photo illustration pointing to African American litter be appropriate? If you are offended by something is it up to you to decide you were offended or the person who told the joke? The subject of illegal activity in the park is appropriate. The original story handled the subject insensitively. Two different issues.

Charles Star

The day we can't make a joke about people fucking in the woods is the day I quit making jokes, Thomas. Your analogy is ridiculous for so many reasons.

tricia

Charles, you have my full support. I don't understand how a post about wanting to warn folks about not walking in on folks having public sex is homophobic.

If I warned someone against taking a walk on on Third Avenue by the Home Depot in Brooklyn on Hunts Point in the Bronx because of the prostitutes that sell their wares there, would that be interpreted as anti-what?

Give me a break. Like Charles said, some folks are trying to make a point that isn't there - no one wants to naked people, or people fucking in the park especially when you have kids with you. Get it together!!!

Thomas

If you want to shield your comments behind your career as a comedian feel free to so. Maybe you could shield anything you ever say or do as a joke. But I do not hear anyone laughing at your joke. Because either it was not funny or more likely it was not intended to be funny but rather thinly veiled disgust. Again I must ask you if you have made jokes on this blog about African Americans or Jewish people or anyone else. I don't see jokes about any other groups.

cmar7785

The reason I called this post out as offensive is not because I believe you are homophobic. But I DO believe that gay sex is scorned and attacked in society, and post such as this do not help, and I think that folks should call you out on it. I cannot help but imagine that just as many straight teens have sex in the woods. Teens in Brooklyn don't have cars to fool around in and I have to assume they have sex somewhere, and that somewhere is probably not their teeny 2 bedroom park slope apartment with mom and pop in the next room. And I know for a fact that straight couples have sex in the park (friends of mine, ahem). I have also helped clean up the woodlands in the park on numerous occasions and I've seen the condom wrappers, but I have never seen men in action. The extent of sexual activity that I've SEEN in Prospect and Central parks have been straight couples on a blanket, she sitting on top of him, moving very conspicuously in a way that I knew exactly what was happening at their "point of connection," for lack of better way to say it. I've seen this MANY times. Why not just post about all folks having sex in the park? Why just post about gays? Aren't they already criticized enough about their sexual deviance?

Charles Star

Thomas, I'm sorry you don't find the joke funny. Other people did. If I wanted psychoanalysis I wouldn't look for it in the comments section of my blog. I'm done trying to convince you that you're wrong, though.

cmar, if you don't see the difference between a couple trying to get away with a public shag for a laugh and a site notorious for anonymous public sex, we are not speaking the same language. You are failing to see the forest that people are having sex in for the trees. Your theory about Brooklyn teenagers is based on nothing and it is apropos of nothing. It merits no further response than that.

jeffrey

Quite coincidentally, I just came upon the following passage in an essay about a GLBT debate in the context of World of Warcraft. Blizzard--the game's publisher--initially removed messages in the chat channel advertising for members of a GLBT-friendly guild. The company took the position that such posts were "inappropropriate" under its terms of service agreement. The author notes, "In Dan Hunter and his colleague's analysis of the situation (2006), attention is drawn to the way that Blizzard appears to draw equivalence between the face of a reference to homosexuality and offense." The irony here, of course, is that Blizzard was attempting to suppress any mention of homosexuality; a position it quickly had to reverse as a "mistake."

Like many other posters, I salute Charles' equable tone.

However, I also think the park's usability could be improved even further with the addition of signage for "Primarily Caucasian Designer Dog Runs", "Ethnic Large-Group Picnic Areas" and "Orthodox Strolling Paths"

jeffrey

Also "Drug-Addled Afro-Caribbean Percussionists and the Damn Hippies Who Love Them" and "Dead Quakers"

Charles Star

jeffrey, you are my new best friend - even if I'd have said "drug-aided" instead of "drug-addled".

Tim Thomas

Charles: You're just jealous. You WISH you could head out to RICK'S PLACE (yes, it has a name folks), hail a mustache ride and be back by lunchtime. Er, actually you can.

It's pretty clear from some posts that the writers have never actually SEEN what we're talking about, and their comments seem quaintly naive. I'm no prude, and I'm certainly no homophobe. But I don't care who is in the woods going at it, I wouldn't feel comfortable bringing my kids along for the ride(or parents come to think of it). Hmmm. Maybe I AM a prude!

Lisa B.

Jeffrey, you rock.

Michael  Rosenthal

Does anyone think this could possibly be a real sign put up by the Alliance or Parks Department? It is so obviously a hoax.

Max

I'm a big dyke who's lived in the neighborhood for seven years, and I thought this post was perfectly appropriate and even funny. The Vale of Cashmere (as well as the woods across from the zoo) are a huge gay male cruising ground, I have seen it with my own eyes numerous times.

But, if those who accuse Charles of homophobia want to shout "Get a room!" at all the straight couples who take it too far on their picnic blankets, I'm all for it.

babs

Those woods by the zoo are amazing - the first time I wandered through there I just couldn't figure out what all these random, solitary men were doing just standing in various clearings and then it dawned on me. "They're cruising! Just like the rambles used to be in Central Park! How quaint - I didn't know people still did that." Then I saw one guy giving another a BJ and my suspicions were confirmed - total flashback to NYC in the late 70s - early 80s. Just hope everyone stays safe nowadays.

pete

Most blogs post comments as you write them and only remove them if they are way out of bounds. but the owners of this blog are so sensitive that they claim they must review each comment before it is even posted. Apparently Charles and his bloggers have a monopoly on being offended. Others need not apply.

babs

Actually, many blogs have a policy of moderated commenting. It's one way of keeping those of us who are actually interested in the subjects at hand from having to scroll through mindless, trolling ravings. Think about it - before the Internet, if you wanted to comment on something, you wrote a letter to the editor, who then chose to publish it or not. Makes sense to me.

Dorian wolfestadt

As a gay man who has done outreach and needle exchange for many years and much research on gay culture I can tell you that it is not only statistically accurate but culturally understood that male sexual activity is by far the most common in the secluded areas of public parks. The fact that those who are pointing it out on this blog and being called homophobic is an unfair and uneducated accusation. Obviously it isn't possible to put up signs and postings due to possible persecution and attacks, but it isn't unfair to ask people for information so as to avoid something that may either be offensive to them or that their children do not need to encounter. Furthermore, the filth is an issue, but those typically involved in "outdoor" activities are usually only thinking of one thing. Along with the fact that there is also a large population of homeless that stay in these secluded areas. So it can't all be blamed on sex in the park.

Marie

Late to the conversation but I'm struggling to find more info on the web about the solitary men I have seen strolling up and down on this side of the park - I have been there recently looking for oyster mushrooms - and found them, and ate them too - On the several occasions I have been here, I guess they did not seem to fit my preconceived idea of cruisers. I assumed they were dealing, but comments here suggest that it really is cruising ground.

I am simply curious. Sex seems implausible - it's broad daylight and it's fall, not much leaf cover.

There is a hell of a lot of litter here, in beautiful woodland, and I find that unacceptable.

The litter needs to go, and if these guys are responsible, they need to go, too.

babs

They are there for sex - I have stumbled across people en flagrante on several occasions. I don't think they're dealing drugs, just on the dl sexually speaking and this is the place to go and not be found out. I do think that they are in part responsible for the litter around here too, but it's all over the park - every weekend was a horror show this summer after all the barbecues and parties not cleaned up after.

joe

I've just read many comments trying to point out homophobia. I could jump in on the argument but how about this: Gimme a break. Did you just move here from Smallville. People looking for illicit sex, crackheads and homeless are deep in the woods of NYC parks. If you can't deal with it don't go. And please, don't bring the kids. There are also owls, and ferns and other amazing things but it is NYC people. Get some thicker skin.
Oh and I love the story of how "my husband and I got lost off the path and were wandering in the woods."
Ha! it sounds like "my husband and I got a sitter but had no place to do it so we ducked into the woods but to our horror there were gay men taking up our sex spot! How dare they with their gaystuff!"

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