Cruising for sex

Cruising for sex, or more commonly, cruising, denotes the act of walking or driving about a locality in search or pursuit of a suitable partner for sex, usually of the anonymous, casual, one-time variety.

Origin and historical usage

In a specifically sexual context, the term "cruising" originally emerged as an argot "code word" in gay slang, by which those "in the know" would understand the speaker's unstated sexual intent, whereas most heterosexuals, on hearing the same word in the same context, would normally misread the speaker's intended meaning in the word's more common (and presumably less threatening) nonsexual sense. This served (and in some contexts, still serves) as a protective sociolinguistic mechanism for gay men to recognize not only each other, but those who may wish to do them harm in broader societies noted for their homophobia.

In the latter half of the twentieth century, decriminalization of homosexual behaviour increasingly became the norm in English-speaking countries. The protective barrier once provided by the term "cruising" as a "code word" has therefore largely broken down, and arguably, become increasingly irrelevant. Thus the specifically sexual meaning of the term has passed into common usage to include the sexual behavior of heterosexual persons, as well.

Regional usage variants

As with all argot, regional variants abound. In the United States, the term "cruising" continues to predominantly denote exclusively homosexual behaviour. In Australia and the United Kingdom, however, it is also widely used by heterosexuals to describe their own behaviour, as witnessed in the common male heterosexual derivative phrase "cruising for chicks".

Historic examples of usage

The term has been enshrined since at least the mid-1970s in the name of the gay bar Foxes Booze 'n' Cruise, located on Historic US Highway 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Although the business has recently come under criticism for allegedly encouraging drunk driving by some who do not understand the term's historic usage, the name remains as a conscious reminder of gay history.

The term has also been adopted, in an altered form, by the website, an online LGBT community based in Sweden. This is a tongue in cheek reference, however, as the community functions as a forum for social interaction for the Scandinavian region, rather than focusing on exclusively sexual encounters. The website has also attracted many heterosexual members as well.

In the UK, Hampstead Heath in London (especially the West Heath) is a well known and, arguably, accepted area for cruising activity to take place. The Highgate Bathing Ponds are particularly central to this lifestyle, with various areas within the locality catering to different interests of cruisers.

In popular culture

Cruising for sex is alluded to in songs such as Cruisin' the Streets by the Boys Town Gang as well as I'm a Cruiser by the Village People.

The popular website is the best known gay pick-up site, where adds can be placed to arrange meets for sex. The site is also used for straight people and for people wishing to buy or sell things. However, the gay contacts section is the most well known and popular of all its uses

See also

External links

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