6 Tips For Safe Cruising
While many New Zealanders may only be vaguely familiar with the idea of cruising, there is a secret world of sex between men that exists in public places all over the country.
The appeals of cruising for sex are easy to see: anonymous hookups whenever you feel like it, the thrill of not getting caught, the feel of the outdoors, and all without even having to actually be gay or bi. Cruising spots, which some people call beats, are the places where men from all walks of life get to experience sex with other men without an online profile, chat history, phone number or even a name. A beat can be anywhere - from a sheltered beach to a public restroom, a motorway rest stop or somewhere off the track of a popular bush walk.
We spoke to some guys who regularly go cruising, to see what advice they would give to others who want to try it out for themselves:
1. Know what you want
“You don’t always fuck. A lot of the time, especially in public toilets, guys will just be jerking off with other guys watching them.” - anon. beatgoer.
People go cruising for anything from voyeurism (watching) to orgies (group sex), and knowing what sort of interactions you are seeking for yourself is very helpful. Look out for non-verbal communication like foot tapping, eye contact and gestures, and expect that people may be quite direct.
2. Embrace the diversity of beat spaces
“You get all types at beats. It’s like a smorgasbord of guys.”
Diversity is what makes cruising exciting: you don’t know who you may encounter. While this may mean unexpected delights, it might also mean unexpected turnoffs. Be ready to let people know respectfully and directly if you are or are not interested. Navigating consent when cruising can be tricky, so be mindful of your right to give or deny consent and be ready to tell the other person if you’re not feeling comfortable.
3. You could get caught by other people or by the police
“Most guys are out for the thrill. It’s a massive turn on, the possibility of getting caught.”
This actually does happen and you need to understand the risk you are taking by engaging in sexual activity in a public place. Cruising spots are normally very discreet places and a lot of care should be taken to make sure that you don’t harass other people who are not cruising.
4. Safety in numbers
“I always tell my mate when I go cruising… he’s had to come help me out a few times.”
If you’re able, try going with a friend, or tell someone when and where you are going cruising. Gaybashing can and does happen, with some people specifically targeting popular cruising spots. Having someone else know your whereabouts is a worthwhile safety precaution.
5. Find out about the beats near you
The website squirt.org is the main online community space for cruising. Squirt offers the ability for users to post information and ask questions about cruising spots all over the world. Users often post information about safety risks which can be very valuable.
6. Go prepared with condoms and lube
Staying protected against HIV and other STIs is key when you are cruising. Get organised before you go cruising. Condoms and lube are easy to get your hands on, and you can order them for free here. Don’t rely on the other guys to have them handy.
"There are guys who bareback at beats and treat PEP like the morning after pill. If they’re going to risk not using condoms then they should at least know about PrEP instead.”
If you struggle with using condoms all the time, then you might want to think about PrEP. PrEP is a daily pill taken by HIV negative guys that protects against HIV, when taken consistently and correctly. Check out more info about PrEP here. Be mindful, PrEP doesn’t protect you against any STIs other than HIV.
Cruising can be a lot of fun, but it can also be risky. Make sure you take steps to keep yourself safe and be mindful of other people who may be in the same place for reasons other than sex.