All aboard the rear car!

A gay men's "cruising" Web site issues a call to arms to get guys to the back of the bus.

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Published October 18, 2000 7:30PM (EDT)

It beats studying your to-do list on your Palm Pilot.

Squirt, a Web site for gay men, has issued a virtual invitation to turn the back of your local bus, tram or subway train into cruise-central for gay men.

"Do you get bored taking the public transit everyday?" asks the site. "Forget about the crosswords and the newspaper, we've got a better idea."

Squirt is trying to encourage men around the world who are looking to meet other men for sex to congregate for cruising in the last car of their favorite form of public transit. Squirt editor Carlos Weigle explains: "Since we all spend a great amount of time traveling sometimes on public transportation, we thought it would be a great idea to spend that time trying to meet other guys. If we say: let's all meet in the last car, our chances of meeting someone are better." Squirt claims that this practice has an august history -- having originated in San Francisco -- and it is just trying to spread the word.

In effect, Squirt is bidding to make the distribution system for hot flesh more efficient. "We're trying to make cruising simpler," says Weigle. No wonder it took a Web site to come up with this. The rallying cry on the site doesn't mince words: "Tell all your friends, fuck buddies and fellow cruisers to ride the Squirt car for underground fun!"

The Squirt site itself works as a consumer rating site for cruisers, where gay men post reviews of bars, truck stops, public bathrooms and parks where they can safely meet for sex. It's like an Epinions for hookups. The site is owned by Pink Triangle Press, the publisher of the Canadian queer magazine Xtra.

Squirt issued its rallying cry to cruisers to turn the evening bus into a meat market in late September. Since then, there have been some complaints from among the site's 52,000 members, whic argue that encouraging guys to get it on while on public transit is going too far. Never mind the gay bashers, think of the arrests.

Weigle says their liberating message has just been misunderstood: "We're not promoting people engaging in sex in a train," insists Weigle, the editor of Squirt. "Sometimes it's prohibited by law. But to meet someone there and go somewhere else. Cruising is a very broad term, which means not only having sex, but also meeting people to have sex."

He contends that hyping cruising isn't just a promotional play on behalf of the Web site, it's also a form of queer pride and visibility: "The pressure from society and the police confines cruisers ... to bars and bathhouse, because they feel safer. But in doing that, we're losing something that's important in gay culture."

Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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