Sex talk
Speaking of Parks

Simon Sheppard,

There's something about outdoor sex that just seems so...natural. But millions of horny urban-dwellers may find getting to the wilderness a chore, so many a pre-orgasmic outdoorsman seeks out a city park instead.

Urban parklands – from the great expanses of Central Park to that half-acre wood around the corner – have long served as cruising grounds for queer men. Horny homos troop through wooded glens and bosky dells in search of companionship – and cock. And there are often secluded spots where simple cruising turns into overt sex.

"When I was in my 20s," says one man, "I moved from the suburbs to the city, and I was surprised and gratified to find that just by wandering into the bushes in the park down the street, I could get my dick sucked at pretty much any hour of the day or night."

There are, of course, a couple of significant downsides to penile pleasure in the parks. It's dangerous. And illegal.

It's a safe bet that any outdoor cruising ground you know about is known to the police, too. Since public parks are the property of all of us, it seems only reasonable that a certain amount of enforcement take place; after all, nobody wants an impressionable youngster to come across a group of guys in the throes of cum-drenched passion. But one shrubbery-frequenter counters, "There are some spots that are so hard to get to that no one goes there except men on the prowl – and the cops who go there to entrap them."

Staying up-to-date can prevent a foliage faux pas – a place that might seem safe and secure one week can be a setting for police surveillance the next. Even de-sexing defoliation has been known to happen. As our ex-suburbanite says, "That park I used to cruise? They built a bunch of high-rise condos that overlook it, and some residents complained about the action they could see from their windows. So the city came in and cut down any shrubbery thick enough to shelter sex. The condo-dwellers may look out on a bunch of scraggly bushes now, but at least it's fuck-free. I hope they're happy."

And it's not just the police who pose a problem. Homophobes and criminals know about cruising spots, too, and they know that the men who go there are less likely to report malicious misdeeds. As one unfortunate fellow recounts, "I was visiting my hometown, and I remembered hearing in high school that 'fags' liked to hang out down by the lake in the local park. So I headed down there one night, met an attractive man, and ended up being mugged at knifepoint by him. Scary, and not the sort of thing I could tell my mom about."

Clearly, there are steps to make alfresco adventures safer. Restricting your outdoor activities to cruising, and keeping nudity and sexual contact for private settings, is a great first step. So is avoiding dark or deserted paths.

Still, there's bound to be some risk, so why do fellows still seek out penises in parks? Sometimes it's a matter of necessity. Closeted, partnered, and married men may not want to hang out in gay clubs or to post ads online. There are those who thrive on dick-hardening danger, or even, at some Freudian level, may be looking to get caught and punished for their desires. But for many, it's simpler than that: Every once in a while, a guy gets an itch, and a stroll through the woods promises the possibility of a sexual scratch. And the park-goer gets to seek sexual satisfaction in pleasant surroundings. As one cruiser points out, "If I have a choice between hanging around in a crowded, smoky bar or walking down tree-lined paths, I'll go hunt for sex in the park, thanks."

And, hey, if you don't get laid, you can always pretend you're bird-watching.

Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion

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