In seeking an online reference to the letter Will Travis recently wrote to Xtra!, expressing his opinion (and mine) that inspired my post titled "On the Tenth Anniversary of Aaron Webster's Murder," published last Friday, I found the following comment from Thomas, who lives in Vancouver.
I share this with you because of its honesty, and because it says a great deal about the place some gay men find themselves. On the one hand, I deplore cruising in public places for sex--I've never done it, no matter how desperate I was to feel the warmth of another human being near me, and I would never consider doing it, because I believe I have more respect for myself than that. On the other hand, who knows what one could find oneself doing under specific circumstances? Never say never...
From the point of view of these men, I see the function cruising fulfills, even understanding its necessity, and how they are driven to do it. Thus, it's difficult for me to pass judgement on them, when I recognize they not only feel disenfranchised from society in general (as many gay men do), but also from the gay male community. Feeling largely disenfranchised from the gay male community over the years, I get cruising and anonymous sex with men in parks, or at least a part of me does. But, in my heart, I know it's not the route to go, and I hope for so much better for us.
If I sound conflicted about cruising, it's because I am. I can't presume to understand all the many reasons why one gay man cruises public parks for sex while another doesn't. But I believe Thomas's letter is telling and insightful, giving us a better understanding of a segment of our community, and challenging us to be more inclusive of our own--no matter where they fall on the scale of being cute or pretty or handsome or youthful or muscular or hairy or well-endowed or whatever the case may be.
As I write this, it occurs to me that, as gay men, we want to be accepted by society. But so much a part of that is first accepting ourselves and each other. It's easy to criticize many straight people for their judgements and bigotry and discrimination against us, but comments like Thomas's must force us to take a hard look at ourselves, ask whether or not we're doing the very same thing to our brothers, and, if we are, what we're prepared to do about it.
For the purpose of clarity, I've edited the comment in question. If you wish to read it in its original form, please click here.