Thursday, August 30, 2007

Not the Hokey-Pokey but Close

Some of you reported being surprised by by discomfort or lack of knowledge of gay bathroom cruising techniques. I must have been absent the time that was covered in the hundreds of hours of sexuality courses and workshops I've taken over the years.

But, I was curious to understand how frequent this behavior is and the code that is used. I also wanted to use all of this news as a "teachable moment" with my 14 year old son.

So, for those of you who are ignorant, this is what one of my sexologist colleagues shared with me:

The most common way this happens is the interested/cruising party moves his foot in a subtle way. The party being approached (if they are interested) will mimic the move. Interested then makes a foot move that is move overt. Approached mimics. Then Interested makes an exaggerated movement (like a REALLY BIG and repetitive tappping of the foot) and Approached mimics again. Interested then usually moves his foot right to the "line" between the stalls and if Approached moves his over and touches Interested's foot a contact has been made. [note from Rev. Debra: I can't help but hear "You put your left foot in, you take your left foot out..."]

The reported gesture of Craig running his fingers along the bottom of the stall is NOT something that comes early in this "dance." It usually would come in place of or after the feet touch.

I know this still happens and again, public rest rooms in rest stops, public parks, etc. are the most common places. It is less common behavior today than it was before it was safe for gay people to be out. It is probably most common these days among relatively closeted guys.

So, now you know. My colleague also told me that the proper response is "not interested, no thank you." When I shared that with my son, he told me if some guy's foot came into his stall, I'd have to forgive him for not using such polite language.


Anonymous said...

As one of those surprised, I can explain (my "wow" was that I agreed with Robin on something...)

Since the motions described in the report weren't vulgar or offensive, it seemed odd to characterize the report as you did, with a warning. It seemed like, then, the implied "uckiness" would be the act that was being solicited by the exchange.

Since I know your stance isn't that gay sexuality is gross, that's why I was surprised.

Tom Richie said...

So the uninitiated would never even know that anything untoward was afoot in the first place? Which makes me wonder who was "complaining" about the behavior sufficiently to get the police involved at all??

Steve Caldwell said...


One of my favorite sexuality bloggers is Greta Christina.

Here is what she said on the Blowfish Blog about "entrapment" aspects of Senator Craig's case and why government officials continue to use the undercover cop method to curtail cruising:

"So yes, I know he was cruising. We all know he was cruising. But the standard of evidence needed to convince me personally that he was cruising, and the standard of evidence that should be required to convince a judge or jury or even a police officer, are rather different. And they should be different.

And rather more to the point — CRUISING IS NOT ILLEGAL.

Senator Craig did not have sex in a public bathroom — which would, in fact, have been against the law. Senator Craig gave a series of signals signifying his desire and intent to have sex in a public bathroom. That is not the same thing.

And in this country — in theory, anyway — we do not arrest people who haven’t done anything illegal, simply because we think it’s likely that they’re about to. That’s exactly what happened here, and it is not okay.

I think it’s important to remember the context for this arrest: the context, and the history, of undercover sting operations in cruisy public bathrooms. The cops didn’t think they were nabbing a scumbag hypocrite Republican Senator who consistently voted against gay rights. They thought they were nabbing a scumbag faggot. The purpose of these undercover sting operations in cruisy public bathrooms is not to protect public safety. Even if you think gay men cruising in public bathrooms is a threat to public safety and should be stopped, the presence of a uniformed officer would do the trick far more effectively. The purpose of these sting operations is to arrest faggots and make their lives a misery. That has always been the purpose, for the entire shameful history of these sorts of operations. And it will continue to be the purpose for as long as there are closeted queer men seeking each other out in these places . . . and cops who want to nab them and ruin their lives.

Do we really want to be cheering when they nab one we don’t like?

Look, I get it. The guy is an evil prick. He made a political career out of attacking queers while he was cruising for cock in the T-rooms. I’m as angry at his hypocrisy as the next person. And I completely understand the desire to see cosmic justice done.

But cosmic justice should not come at the expense of actual justice."

It's worth reading the rest of her column on this.