Marchers holding hands at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride event, Piccadilly, London, 4th July 1998.

Marchers holding hands at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride event, Piccadilly, London, 4th July 1998.

Dating apps have created endless possibilities for intimacy. But as online coupling becomes status quo, how are we faring face-to-face?

For many gay men, apps gained has meant culture lost.

In an article for Slate, Mike Miksche examines how the age of Grindr and Scruff has changed cruising culture and shaped his ability to pick up men offline. He writes about a time when he noticed a man following him around at the gym, and felt totally clueless about how to talk to him:

It was frustrating, because I knew that there was a language out there that gay men have used for centuries to communicate in these very situations. It’s called cruising, and it’s a dialect that has been perfected in places like restrooms, city parks, and gym locker rooms. It relies on body language, eye contact, intuition, and knowing how to utilize public space.

Before the Internet and dating apps, cruising was used as a mode of communication by our queer ancestors to suss each other out, since they had to pass as straight, to look and act normal to stay safe in lieu of LGBTQ acceptance and protections. Increasingly, cruising seems to have become a lost language, diminished not only by dating apps, but by gentrification (fewer places to hook up) and reactions to the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and ‘90s, which condemned sex and sex spaces in the name of public health.

Is cruising a “lost art?” And if it is lost, what’s gone away with it?

We’ll discuss as part of our series, Cuffin’ Season.

Show produced by Morgan Givens. Text by Kathryn Fink.

Guests

  • Mark Brennan Rosenberg Author, "This Made Me Think of You"; @MarkBRosenberg
  • R. Eric Thomas Senior staff writer, Elle; playwright; @oureric
  • David Toussaint Contributor, Huffington Post; editor, Queerty; @drtoussaint

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