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Unlike all the straight barbers I have had in the past, my barber is a 6-foot-tall sweetheart who knows exactly what haircuts gay men are wearing these days undercuts, fauxhawks, pompadours, high-and-tights. But what he did not know is that his shop is total cruising zone. That is, until I filled him in. Many barbershops are cruising zones, especially if they have gay-heavy clientele. As we wait, we are watching men being groomed, knowing that at some point we will be up there, turned and swiveled for the guys to inspect from every angle.
Following the logic of the barbershop, any waiting room can be a cruising zone.
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You can feel the cruising vibes as soon as you walk in and sign your name — always wear something sexy when you go get blood work done. I have never been to a gay AA or CMA crystal meth meeting, but I have heard from friends who attend them that these groups are notorious eye wars. This makes sense to me because I have attended a few HIV support groups, especially after I first tested positive, and the cruising vibes were strong.
People come together and need each other when they are in difficult places, and sometimes sex is part of that. In my lowest moments, I have cruised for sex simply because I needed to be around someone else or forget my problems for a little bit. There is something important about this type of cruising, because while it might not be totally healthy, it is totally human. Craigslist was launched out of San Francisco in Almost immediately, people began posting personal ads for sex services, companionship, kink, and to satisfy every fetish you can imagine, from sitting on cakes to voyeurism to some considerably darker fare minors, cannibalism, you name it.
Craigslist changed the game for men seeking men. Sites catering exclusively to gay dating and personals came later. Gay sex sites came with them — BarebackRT. Gay cruising had found its home on the web, and suddenly we needed to spend more time in front of our computers. In , the fabric of gay life changed again. In the future, we will look back at a massive turning in gay culture — when gay hookup apps, which locate other users through the geolocation devices in your smartphone, hit the market.
In , Grindr had 4 million users in countries across the globe, with 1. Those numbers have doubtlessly increased today. Any mention of Grindr in will inevitably result in some eye rolls.
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Tiresome arguments between guys who hate hookup apps and guys who love them continue to rage across gay media outlets. Some say Grindr and other apps have destroyed gay life.
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Others say they have simply redefined it. Regardless which side you fall on, hookup apps are here to stay. I think the success of hookup apps was fairly foreseeable. If you give gay men an effortless way to hunt for sex on-the-go, everywhere they go, all the time, they are going to go for it. We have always have been doing this — Grindr simply made cruising easier.
Scruff was launched in , the year after Grindr hit the app store. Scruff is an app that essentially does the same Grindr does, but with different features unlimited profile text, more in-app search tools and, some would argue, catered to a slightly different user base. In , Scruff reported 8 million users worldwide.
Today, there are dozens of gay dating apps in addition to these two: X, and many others all trying to get in on the action. Take your pick. Leather festivals like International Mr.
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Nothing is discrete at Folsom. While public sex is typically not allowed at leather events themselves, the plethora of parties happening in conjunction with them are the main sexual fare. Real Bad. Papa Party. White Party Miami the whole week of it. White Party Palm Springs. Purple Party in Dallas. Winter Party Miami. Gay Days Orlando. The Pines Party on Fire Island. Southern Decadence. The list goes on, and on, and on.
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All over the world, from Tel Aviv to Rio de Janeiro, gay circuit parties have turned modern gay life into something global and glamorous — and expensive. Cruise culture has changed — no doubt about that.
Some guys say cruising is dead, simply because it is harder to cruise for sex in public now. Train stations, parks, and public restrooms have more security personnel and fewer cruising patrons — particularly when many guys can just sit at home and hookup on Scruff. Cruise culture is alive, but it has been monetized. Circuit parties, which are essentially massive cruising fests, are beautiful, expensive things that cater to gay men with enough disposable income to afford tickets and travel and clothes, and drugs, and hotel rooms, and harnesses, and all the many other costs that inevitably factor in.
My impulse is to wag my finger at an industry that caters to the rich — but I also love circuit parties. After the devastation of the AIDS epidemic and after generations of gay men seeing their lifestyles portrayed in ugly ways, the feeling of being in a warehouse filled with gay men celebrating themselves and their sex is radical and life-changing. It is a feeling I think every gay man should experience. I saved the best for last.
Backrooms are relics of an earlier time, when managers and owners generously created a space where their patrons could do what they needed to do with each other and looked the other way — or perhaps joined in. But gay bars today are now flocked with bridesmaids and visited by health inspectors and must struggle to stay afloat in a world where hookup apps have hurt their business, meaning backrooms have all but disappeared. You cruise on the dance floor — backrooms are where the cruising takes you. I love backrooms and see them along with public cruising as part of the same picture, one that composes a big part of our history as gay men.
Regardless of your views on sex, cruising defined our world at one point. It was how we met each other, how we fell in love, and constituted the whole of our sex lives years before apps and websites would take out all the guesswork and, for many, all the fun as well. All Rights Reserved. With this golden age, came a swath of new facilities, many of which are now synonyms with the gay sauna experience today.
However, these are the most common facilities you can expect to find:. Yes, even in these palaces of pleasure, rules apply. Gay sauna cruising involves learning a whole new language, but thankfully, it is pretty straightforward. Whether your a total newbie or a seasoned veteran who has basically made the local gay sauna your second home, everyone should take note of these top gay sauna tips. Trust us, they are going to make your time so much easier! And there you have, now you are prepared for your first time gay sauna experience.
We are all judged enough, so there is no need to judge each other. Just be smart, be safe and always use a condom! Now you're all set and prepared to explore our big queer world, why not sort out everything else out all in one go? If necessary for your travel plans make sure you have brought proper travel insurance , protected your privacy by getting a secure VPN , compared all the top hotel booking sites to find just what you're after, reserved an unbeatable rental car price and - of course - booked the best flight deals! Or maybe just forget it all and go for a last minute cruise or effortless tour instead?
Many gay travelers including us indulge in worldwide airport lounge access and pre-arrange airport transfers to take the stress out of travel. Just add an adventurous attitude and plenty of smiles - they go a long way - and that about covers it all! We strongly recommend you set up a high-quality VPN on your phone before going to protect your privacy, to remain anonymous and to keep access to your favorite websites and apps. Better safe than sorry! Using apps like Scruff, Grindr and Hornet is your way to tap into the gay scene of wherever you are and find secret gay bars, underground parties, and other events.
As a word of warning, if you are traveling somewhere where LGBT rights are not great, make sure you get a secure VPN on your phone to protect your privacy and, in some places, unblock these apps. Elevating the game is Taimi, a newcomer designed for gay men seeking real connections. We also love that Taimi is focussed on the security and safety of its users with special verification and authentication systems to keep fake accounts out.
There is nothing worse than a professional catfish right?
Above: Alex lurking in a park
And there is also the possibility of creating groups where users can launch discussions, organize events, cooperate and collaborate with NGOs. This is the social network aspect and we are obsessed with it. There is also a collaboration with the Trevor Project meaning users can contact Trevor immediately from their profiles and the possibility of making video calls, meaning Taimi is one of the best gay apps currently out there!
So get downloading now to form quality connections, stay safe and share without being judged! As you might guess from the name, Scruff is the slightly rough-around-the-edges version of Grindr, developed for those guys who like a little, well, scruff! The users tend to be that bit more masc and a little older than on Grindr, although with its growing popularity there are plenty to choose from.