Reporting Public Sex location (cruising) stories
Cruising - looking for casual sex. Not all men who cruise identify as gay. Some may be in a heterosexual relationship and are looking for casual sex with other men.
Men who have sex with men - a term describing men who have casual sex with other men. These men would not identify as being gay, and may be involved in a heterosexual relationship.
When reporting cruising activity stories it is important to acknowledge the following points:
- Cruising activity stems from the fact that men who want to have sex with men continue to face high levels of prejudice and discrimination in society. Fear of isolation and rejection from family and friends can make it extremely difficult, for those who want to, to 'come out.'
- Men who go 'cruising', and identify as gay, may not have access to the 'scene.' There is a lack of safe places outside of the scene where gay men can meet other gay men, especially in rural areas.
Cruising is not just a 'gay issue.' Often the men involved would not identify themselves as gay. Some may be in a heterosexual relationship and are just looking for casual sex with other men.
- Reporting it only as a 'gay issue', makes unfair generalisations on the morality of gay men. This can have serious consequences in terms of treatment in society, and in some occasions can incite homophobic abuse, and at worst, hate crime. So, for the safety of all gay men it is important not to demonise the men involved, but to report the incident in a fair and sensitive manner.
- It is worth noting when commenting on the morality of gay men that nearly 65% of respondents to our Counted Out survey reported being offended by articles or editorials in print media, and 68% reported being offended by public statements about the morality of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people. Such statements not only offend LGB people, but they also offend their friends and families. Unfair reporting will alienate a significant proportion of your readership, many of whom would be unlikely to buy your publication again.
- Seek information and comments from diverse organisations. THT Cymru, for example, have outreach teams who liaise with the police and the men involved to provide information on sexual health and advice about personal safety.
Points to consider
Gay sex: this implies a certain sleaziness to the story. Defining people by the sex they have ignores the emotional and personal aspects of being gay.
Homosexual: this is seen by some in the LGB community as a derogatory and offensive term that was used when same-sex attraction/relationship was considered a mental illness. Use instead gay, lesbian, gay man/woman, bisexual, bisexual man/woman.
Obscene/obscene acts/lewd or offensive behaviour: your readers will form a negative view of gay men. This type of terminology links gay men with criminal and offensive behaviour.