This must be the news lull between hurricanes.
September 21, 2005
A Sex Stop on the Way Home
By COREY KILGANNON
There is a narrow parking lot in Cunningham Park in Queens surrounded by playing fields for adult softball and youth soccer and baseball. At one end of the lot, retirees arrive to practice their golf and mothers in minivans gather to wait for their Little Leaguers.
The other end is popular with another set with a much lower profile in this suburban setting: gay men cruising for sex. Their playing field is the parking lot itself and the goal is a sexual encounter, usually quick and anonymous.
Manhattan may have its gay bars and such traditional pickup spots as the woods of the Ramble in Central Park and the piers of the West Village. But in the less-accepting climate of the suburbs and the boroughs outside Manhattan, gay men often resort to courting one another from the relative safety and privacy of their cars. They troll remote parking lots that become de facto pickup spots well known in gay circles but not to the general public.
Long Island spots include Two Mile Hollow Beach in East Hampton, the Field 6 parking lot at Jones Beach, a rest stop near Exit 52 on the Long Island Expressway and the park-and-ride lot on Route 110 in Melville. Each has its own culture and often its own set of protocols, ranging from parking position to the flashing of headlights or blinkers as mating calls.
The parking lot in Queens seems to be especially popular with men who lead ostensibly heterosexual lives but show up for sex because it is quick, easy to get and secretive, regulars say. The lot, along Hollis Hills Terrace just south of 73rd Avenue in Queens Village, is close to several major parkways, and its location helps make it popular with men who commute between New York City and the suburbs, where they often have a house, a mortgage, a wife and children.
"The vast majority of men who come here are married," said one longtime parking lot user, who like the other men interviewed there recently would not tell his name because of concerns ranging from embarrassment to fears of gay-bashing.
"I can't tell you how many guys I've had here who were wearing wedding bands, with baby seats in the car and all kinds of kids' toys on the floor. It's on their way home and they don't have to get involved in a relationship or any gay lifestyle or social circles. They don't even have to buy anyone a drink or be seen in a gay bar. They just tell the wife, 'Honey, I'll be home an hour late tonight.' "
Regulars say that the married men enjoy the risk and recklessness of semipublic sex, which usually means receiving oral sex in their cars or having other sexual encounters in the woods nearby.
"Some aren't getting it at home," the man added. "Some say, 'I'm not even gay. I'm just bored.' "
Almost any time from noon till 9 p.m., when the lot is officially closed, the scene is the same. The narrow section has two long rows of parking spaces into which the men back their cars, forming two rows of cars facing each other with a thoroughfare between them.
Each newcomer trolls this thoroughfare with all eyes upon him and surveys the other men in cars, who may either perk up and look interested or shut the window and look away. Then with a dramatic swoop, the driver will back his car next to the car of the man he is pursuing.
It all has the deliberate positioning, shifting and movement of a chess game. The parking lot is a fishbowl and the action unfolds like a soap opera each day. Some longtime lot regulars who are openly gay enjoy gathering to observe and narrate the forays and entreaties as they occur. The lot serves the lonely as well as the lusty, they said, helping men seeking friendship and a place to socialize and bond.
"There's so much loneliness among gay men," one lot user said. "A lot of guys just want someone to talk to."
The parking lot's use as a gay cruising spot goes back at least to the 1960's, several older men said. "I spent the halcyon days of my youth here," one said. "This place was paradise back then."
As for sex, the regulars say that they prefer the parking lot to gay bars since there is little in the way of drugs and alcohol and there is more honesty about sexually transmitted diseases. Many regulars say they make arrangements to go home together or to a motel since a strong police presence makes sex in the car or the woods too risky. They add, however, that for certain men, this risk only increases the excitement and allure of on-site sex.
"You would not believe the guys who come here," said a 50-year-old Queens man who repairs boilers and is a regular. "You have judges, doctors, lawyers, firemen, cops, sanitation workers. You have guys coming here with totally normal lives, married with good jobs."
Another set of parking lot users is much more reluctant to discuss the cruising activity. These men begin to arrive sometime after 5 p.m. wearing shirts and ties and driving S.U.V.'s and snazzy sports cars. These men tend to be slightly jittery. Sometimes their cars have tinted windows. Generally, they refuse to discuss the parking lot with a reporter or say they have simply come to read a book or relax in their cars.
While most lots are far from public view, the one in Queens is hidden in plain sight. The lot can be found on Web sites listing gay cruising spots, including one that describes it as a "cruisy parking lot" that "seems safe and private enough."
The activity seems not to be noticed by nonparticipants. Even the softball players who arrive after work and change their shirts outside their cars do not seem to notice the admiring audience they attract since most of the gay men do not leave their cars.
When contacted about the parking lot, the president of the Friends of Cunningham Park, Marc A. Haken, said he was "totally unaware" that there was sexual activity there.
Mr. Haken said that some years ago there was a well-known cruising spot in another parking lot, farther inside the park, and that many participants often repaired to the woods for sexual encounters.
"You would see one guy in a car and then another head would pop up, or they would gather and have sex in the woods," he said. The lot was partitioned off in recent years for official vehicles, he said, adding, "I guess that's when they - I hate to say 'they' but I don't know what words to use - they migrated to the other lot."
He said that there had been no complaints from park users and residents.
"But I don't think that 10-year-olds in a parking lot on the way to soccer should see some guy getting oral sex in a car," he said. One recent evening, a half-dozen mothers stood chatting, waiting for their children to finish soccer. A stone's throw away, a group of gay men stood narrating the attempt of a man trolling the lot in a tan sedan to woo the cute man parked in the black S.U.V. with tinted windows backed into a spot.
"The guy in the brown car's a dog, he's always here," the man narrating said. "I've never seen the black car before. But watch, here he'll pull right up to him and see what happens." Within moments, the man in the tan sedan hopped into the S.U.V. and the windows closed.
"Woop, there he goes," the narrator said. "You go, girl."
While gay gatherings take many forms in ethnically diverse Queens, from the scene in Astoria Park to the gay bars serving Central and South Americans in Jackson Heights, many ethnic groups have strong taboos against homosexuality.
"Society doesn't accept us and it's hard to meet people, sexually or socially," said a 42-year-old graduate student from Queens visiting the parking lot. "You know, not everyone who's gay lives in Manhattan and runs in packs like 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.' "
This must be the news lull between hurricanes.
I think its interesting and stories on the inner workings, off-the-wall subjects like this make the Times worth every penny. Especially when its still a free article online!
Well, we can certainly expect a rise in gay-bashings now that they have portrayed anyone sitting in their car in a pasrk as a "pervert" looking for sex. It was intersting how they made a point of noting how close all of this was to family and children activities. It's so nice of them to portray gays as an implicit threat to the community. The parks aren't "safe" anymore. There are gays there. That sure sounds like an alarm being sounded. This must be the New York Times that was trying to be more sensitive to the red state people. Well, hell, let's give them an evil homo article.
^ I didn't read it that way at all. It was very 'matter-of-fact' about the whole story. These guys congregate a 'stones throw' away from kids playing is just the facts - they weren't judging it.
I didn't read it that way either, just shedding light on something most people don't know about, unseen yet apparently frequent.
I bet you a double that some local parents are patrolling those parking lots tonite and chasing away anyone alone in their car -- or at least giving them some good strong looks (and maybe slowly smacking a baseball bat in their hand).Originally Posted by NYatKNIGHT
BR, I think you are going a little far with that assessment.
I DO think they will object to a gay-sex-stop more than a hetero, but I do not see the soccer moms approving of head being given to anyone by either sex in a parking lot that close to where their kids are.
Sex is sex. Plain and simple. THAT line is present in this situation regardless of who the participants are.
The term "troll" in and of itself is offensive. He reports they are there because they find it safe, because it unknown by the general public. He then goes on to list these areas, thereby making them "known" and now "unsafe."Originally Posted by Corey Kilgannon
Now, anyone can go and presume that anyone sitting in a car at these places is there for sex. The act of turning on one's lights is reason enough for suspicion and a call to police. In the age of "if you see something, say something" this ramps up for a witch hunt in these places.Originally Posted by Corey Kilgannon
So, is this an news piece or an op-ed piece. Reporting heresay? "Regulars say"? Not much different than a Fox News report that leads with "Some might say...". The "regulars say that the married men here by and large are leading heterosexual lives", but everyone interviewed is pretty out and open.Originally Posted by Corey Kilgannon
Then, we get the psychiatric report that these guys are enjoying "risk" and "recklessness."
Ah yes, certainly the only thing these deviants an do is "troll".Originally Posted by Corey Kilgannon
Actually, there may be some loneliness amongst THOSE gay men. Irresponsible reporting recreates and reinforces negative images and the perpetuity of stereotypes.Originally Posted by Corey Kilgannon
This is probably one guy who is there that I wouldn't believe.Originally Posted by Corey Kilgannon
He then notes that guys coming there have "normal" lives - reinforcing that the behavior being reported is deviant.
Gay bashers: On your marks... Get set... GO!Originally Posted by Corey Kilgannon
Oops! Now he is. All this guys who until now were feeling safe and going "unnoticed" are now engaging in criminal activity. Notice he told Marc Haken that there was sexual actitivity there, not that it was a gay meeting place. Sexual activity is something to be cracked down on. I think when heterosexuals engage in such activity, it is called "Lover's Lane". But this activity is not "normal".Originally Posted by Corey Kilgannon
So, it was a bunch of guys talking (not having sex) watching a guy come into the parking lot (and not getting sex). But, now the park president knows they ARE having sex.Originally Posted by Corey Kilgannon
No, not too much wrong with that reporting. The editors at The New York Times seem to be meeting their commitment to play more to right-wing readers.
BR, it is a bunch of guys blowing each other without so much as knowing each other.
They are trolling, they are just in it for sex. Regardless of gender, most find that morally reprehensable.
You are just reading too much into it. Would you have been as angry if he did not mention the fact that they were gay?
I'm more angry because while the NY Times create news, stories like the one below will likely be suppressed...
Amnesty International report reveals alarming and widespread police mistreatment of gays in USA
Via UKGayNews for PageOneQ
“The police are not here to serve; they are here to get served…every night I'm taken into an alley and given the choice between having sex or going to jail.”
* Amnesty International interview with a Native
American transgender woman, Los Angeles
NEW YORK, September 22 * In the most comprehensive report of its kind to date, Amnesty International (AI) reveals that police mistreatment and abuse of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people is widespread throughout the USA and goes largely unchecked due to underreporting and unclear, under-enforced or non-existent policies and procedures.
“Across the country, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people endure the injustices of discrimination, entrapment and verbal abuse as well as brutal beatings and sexual assault at the hands of those responsible for protecting them * the police,” said Dr. William F. Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA).
“Some, including transgender individuals, people of colour and the young suffer disproportionately, especially when poverty leaves them vulnerable to homelessness and exploitation and less likely to draw public outcry or official scrutiny.
“It is a sorry state of affairs when the police misuse their power to inflict suffering rather than prevent it,” he added.
In its 150-plus page report, Stonewalled: police abuse and misconduct against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the United States, AI focuses on four cities * Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Antonio * and surveys the 50 largest police departments in the country, as well as Washington, D.C., about LGBT policies and practices. It also includes information from several hundred interviews and testimonies.
AI’s findings strongly indicate that there is a heightened pattern of misconduct and abuse of transgender individuals and all LGBT people of colour, young people, immigrants, the homeless and sex workers by police. At times, the mere perception that someone is gay or lesbian provokes physical or verbal attacks.
The mistreatment and abuse documented in the report includes targeted and discriminatory enforcement of statutes against LGBT people, including so-called “quality of life” and morals regulations; profiling, particularly of transgender women as sex workers; verbal abuse; inappropriate pat-down and strip searches; failure to protect LGBT people in holding cells; inappropriate response or failure to respond to hate crimes or domestic abuse calls; sexual harassment and abuse, including rape; and physical abuse that at times amounts to torture and ill-treatment.
Several examples include:
■ Young gay men and advocates in Chicago told AIUSA of a police officer who, according to one man, will “remove his badge, gun and belt and then beat you unless you give him a blowjob, after which he’ll just leave you there.”
■ Police officers accused a Latina transgender woman in San Antonio of stealing. One officer reportedly said, “People like you make the world a bad place.” Three police officers and two detectives allegedly surrounded her while one officer searched her, exposing her pubic hair, buttocks and one of her breasts. She said, “I didn’t ask to be searched by a female officer. I've tried that before - they don’t care, to them we’re all men.” She was not charged with any crime. Officers refused to give her their badge numbers. She said, “I know to be respectful to police officers but I’m tired of the way they are treating us.”
■ Police officers allegedly beat, hog-tied and dragged Kelly McAllister, a white transgender woman, across a pavement upon her arrest in Sacramento, CA. She was placed in a Sacramento County Main Jail cell with a male inmate who struck, choked, bit and raped her. That inmate received a mere three-month sentence. No officer has been disciplined for the incidents surrounding Kelly’s incarceration.
■ Two lesbians of colour reported that two men in Brooklyn, NY, followed, harassed and threatened them, saying, “I'm going to kill you, bitch. You’re not a man….I’m gonna put you in your place.” The verbal abuse escalated to physical abuse; the two women called 911. When police were told this was a homophobic crime, the officers reportedly left without further investigating the incident or taking a complaint, telling the ambulance attendants responding to the women’s call to leave. One woman reportedly was bleeding from the head due to a blow from one of the men. Her companion stated, “It was ridiculous. There she was running down the street bleeding and chasing after the ambulance.”
■ A Native American transgender woman reported that two Los Angeles police officers handcuffed her and took her to an alleyway. One officer reportedly hit her across the face, saying “you ****ing whore, you ****ing faggot,” then threw her down on the back of the patrol car, ripped off her miniskirt and her underwear and raped her, holding her down and grabbing her hair. The second officer is also alleged to have raped her. According to the woman, they threw her on the ground and said, “That's what you deserve,” and left her there.
While it is impossible to obtain accurate statistics, the AI study showed that transgender people, particularly women and the young, suffer disproportionately. A large percentage of transgender people reportedly are unemployed or underemployed, leaving the population more vulnerable to homelessness or situations that leave them exposed to police scrutiny and abuse.
Meanwhile, 72 percent of police departments responding to AI's survey said they had no specific policy regarding interaction with transgender people.
AI welcomed the initiative taken by several police departments to improve their practices. The West Hollywood Station of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has a Gay and Lesbian Conference Committee that is open to the public and allows police to stay in touch with community concerns.
The City of West Hollywood also established a Transgender Task Force that addresses policing issues.
In Washington, D.C., the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU) is staffed by four full-time officers and ten volunteers, and the head of the unit, Sgt. Brett Parson, reports directly to the police chief. GLLU is also involved with training efforts within the police department.
However, the AI report demonstrates that despite initiatives such as these, police departments nationwide need to do more to protect LGBT people * something that was reflected in responses to the AI survey of police policies and practices with regard to LGBT people.
Of the 29 departments that responded to the survey, only 31 percent instruct their officers on how to strip search a transgender individual; two thirds (66%) of police departments reported providing training on hate crimes against LGBT individuals; and while most departments provide training regarding sexual assault (86%), about half (52%) do not include LGBT-specific issues.
“Police officers are hired to protect and serve all of their communities, not only the ones they deem worthy,” said Michael Heflin, Director of Amnesty International USA's OUTfront program, which focuses on LGBT human rights.
“Every human being, without exception, has the right to live free from discrimination and abuse, yet LGBT people nationwide are afraid to report hate crimes or other abuses to the police, who at times prove themselves to be the criminals.
“If we can’t count on law enforcement to set an example, hate crimes and discrimination will continue to flourish in a land that otherwise has made relative headway in the fight for LGBT rights.”
■ Under international law, everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, is guaranteed the fullest enjoyment of his or her civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
The United States is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the principal international treaty that lays out fundamental rights such as freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention and torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as well as the Convention Against Torture and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Originally published on Thursday, September 22, 2005.
Yes, what is the NYTimes reason for running this article? Where´s the news? What New Yorker doesn´t know that men have "secret" meeting places? And who cares? The men in this article sound absolutely discreet... no one seemed to know (or care) about what´s going on there. It´s a strange sort of "outing". And I agree with Brooklyn about the charged key-words the article is laced with. It reads like something you might expect from an ultra conservative small-town rag.
I guess it's just circumstantial that on a day when Amnesty International is condemning American Police agression against gays the New York Times just happens to come out with an article that makes gays look like they are out looking for trouble and are an implicit threat and "morally reprehensible" as Ninjahedge so eloquently stated. Interesting how it elicited from him the exact reaction I reasoned the article was designed for.
Funny timing there, huh?
Originally Posted by BrooklynRider
I do not see gays as being the responsible party, but men in general (BTW, I am a man. At least I was last time I checked... :P).
So you find sex in a parking lot ok?