GAYS AGAIN ‘CRUISING’ FOR SEX IN SAN FRAN-FREAKO

San Francisco’s Buena Vista Park is a center of the gay cruising renaissance

SF Gate

San Francisco is arguably the gay mecca of the world. The city — home to the first gay bar in the country, and possibly the world, to install street-facing glass windows — houses a general population with an estimated 12% of residents identifying as members of the LGBTQIA+ community. One of the most-attended Pride parades in the country marches down Market Street each June. The Folsom Street Fair attracts hundreds of thousands of kinksters to SoMa annually for what’s now become the largest kink festival found anywhere in the world. Running parallel to those public-facing elements of LGBTQ culture in San Francisco are traditions like cruising — seeking out public places frequented by queer people looking for consensual sex from suitors, usually afforded by way of a reciprocated gaze and gesture. The history of cruising dates back to the 1810s in England, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that cruising had its hyperlocal bloom as SF became the gay capital of America. Ever since then, Buena Vista Park — the 37-acre park that was established in 1867, first as “Hill Park ” — has been one of the most notable locales to find a discreet public sex partner. It’s been a well-known historical landmark, whose reputation has carried forth into the digital age via the queer cruising app Sniffies, which launched in 2018 and now has millions of users. The app’s geolocation data shows that the elevated green space is one of the most frequented cruising spots in San Francisco; one description calls Buena Vista Park “the most notorious cruising park in SF.”

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