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Yes, people still meet for sex in parks. No, it’s not a problem

Lessons learned from park cruising, seven months into a pandemic

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Wind whips off the lake on winter nights, up the empty beach, whistling over the park’s snowy grasses. It rattles through the parking lot. Only a forested area at the north end cuts the wind at all.

Marie Curtis Park in Toronto Canada is not the most hospitable spot for park sex, and yet it is a year-round cruising area, for reasons that are in part geographical. The park is at the southern tip of the Long Branch neighbourhood, in the suburb of Etobicoke. As a result, the park is relatively secluded, especially in the off-season, and it affords a degree of privacy. Aside from an adult video store, it is the only game of its kind for miles around. On public transit, it could take 90 minutes or more, depending on the time of day, to get from Toronto’s gay village to the windswept tip of Long Branch.

In late March, my phone started to ping with messages from men who were cruising in Marie Curtis Park. Amid messages which sounded exactly the same as always — “Anyone there?”, “Other hung guys around now?” — were new messages. For example, one message, from March 28, 2020, reads, “It would be socially responsible to meet in the woods and just watch another guy jerk off. Let me know.” The messages continued to roll in, intuitive and prescient.

In March 2020, the average temperature in Toronto was 3 degrees Celsius/37 degrees Fahrenheit, with temperatures falling as low as -10 C / 14 F. Because of the lake effect, winter temperatures tend to be a little higher on the waterfront, but suffice it to say, March was a cold, dreary month, even before the novel coronavirus began to cast its widening shadow. Following the WHO’s declaration on March 11 of a “pandemic,” new restrictions were announced almost daily. By the end of the month, Toronto was a ghost-town: subway ridership down over 90 percent. Many had left town. Those who could work from home were doing so, and millions across the country were without work altogether.

And still, men cruised Marie Curtis Park.

Among cruising parks, Marie Curtis is well known, in part because it was raided by police in October and November of 2016. Police sent plainclothes officers to a forested bike path, where they baited men to solicit them, and they conducted uniformed sweeps of the parking lot after midnight, when the park was technically closed. Police dubbed the raid “Project Marie” — a moniker slyly feminizing and homophobic. At least 72 men were caught up in it. Most were given by-law tickets for sexual activity in the park or trespassing outside of park hours, minor from a legal point of view, but serious enough to potentially cast a pall over their marriages, the results of certain police checks, and their mental health.

The pings on my phone were from an adult website called Squirt.org. Squirt is a hookup website, but on top of its chat function, it also has the world’s most complete cruising listings. Parks, gym lockers, washrooms, if you can think of it, there is a listing for it on Squirt.org. The interface is a bit like a throwback 1990s “bulletin board” — each cruising spot has a page, with a description, and a place for men to post underneath.

The Marie Curtis Park page on Squirt is a good way to keep tabs on the park’s cruisers. The company that owns Squirt gifted me with a premium membership, in November 2016, when I was organizing with a group of lawyers to provide free legal defences to the men who were affected by Project Marie. (Everyone who contacted us and decided to fight eventually had the charges withdrawn.)

For lawyers, our first problem was to identify who had received these tickets, so that we could offer them help. Posting on Squirt.org turned out to be one of our most valuable tools of outreach. After I posted on the Marie Curtis message board, I got a notification sent to my email for each message posted underneath. Ping, ping, ping.

Long Branch was for many years a racially-mixed, working class and newcomer neighbourhood. Prior to the raids, this had begun to change. Realtors would say, “it’s a neighbourhood in transition,” shorthand for gentrification. Young, white couples — priced out of their preferred neighbourhoods — bought property in Long Branch, and it appeared to be their complaints which drove the raids.

There were many activist responses to Project Marie: letter writing, angry editorials, deputations at the Toronto Police Services Board. The next Spring, the activist group Queers Crash the Beat, which formed after Project Marie, staged a ribbon cutting with drag queens, leatherfolk, and an accordion player, a festive occasion marking the opening of the next year’s cruising season.

Tongues were planted firmly in cheek, in part because there is no such thing as cruising season. It’s year round. Between the media firestorm over the raids at Marie Curtis Park in November 2016 and Queers Crash the Beat’s ribbon cutting in May of 2017, men continued to cruise there, throughout the cold and crushing winter, even in the shadow of the police raid.

Nobody should be surprised that men continued to cruise during the pandemic. We cruised through winter. We cruised through police raids. We cruised through the AIDS crisis. Reagan is dead and we are still cruising.

Queer people know that risk is a continuum and not a binary. We know that the activities which bring us joy and fulfillment can turn, in a moment, to danger, violence, ridicule. Many of the things we do are on a spectrum of risk: holding hands on King Street, coming out to our colleagues, booking a stay at a bed and breakfast. Even ordering a cake carries the risk of rejection and shame.

One of the great gifts queer people have given to the world has been to translate our intimate knowledge of risk into public health policy. The spectrum of risk was visible from the early days of the AIDS crisis, when we started distributing condoms and refusing to preach abstinence. It is equally visible in the work of drop-in centres, needle exchange programs, sharps boxes, and supervised injection sites.

Epidemiologist Julia Marcus has written a number of pieces for The Atlantic, applying the lessons learned from our responses to AIDS to the novel coronavirus. She has helpfully reminded us about Richard Berkowitz and Michael Callen’s 1983 pamphlet, called “How to Have Sex in an Epidemic.” She writes:

Recognizing the need for pleasure in people’s lives, the pamphlet rejected abstinence as the sole approach and provided some of the earliest guidance on safer sex for gay men, including recommendations about condoms and which sex acts had a lower or higher risk for disease transmission.

[…]

Berkowitz and Callen knew that indefinite abstinence wasn’t realistic for everyone, and instead of shaming, tried to give gay men the tools they needed to be able to have sex with a low but non-zero risk of HIV transmission. In essence, this is the harm-reduction model, which recognizes that some people are going to take risks … and instead of condemnation, offers them strategies to reduce any potential harms. This approach meets people where they are and acknowledges that individual-level decisions happen in a broader context, which may include factors that are out of people’s control.

It took public health authorities some time to locate COVID in this rubric, but by summer, New York City had released COVID sexual health guidelines which recognized that abstinence was not possible or even desirable for some. While it recommended that having sex solo or with members of your own household was safest, it translated general COVID advice into guidance for the bedroom: reduce kissing, wear a mask, wash your hands before and after. It also offered the cryptic advice to, “Be creative with sexual positions and physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face to face contact.”

The New York City Department of Health recommended — three months after the man on the Marie Curtis Park message board had instantly and intuitively recognized it — that jerking off together with physical distancing is a safer sex strategy.

British Columbia’s sexual health guidelines were similar to those of New York. B.C. health officials recommended limiting the number of sexual partners if possible, having conversations with partners about COVID risk factors before hooking up, and washing your hands. But British Columbia included a preamble that was shockingly candid for a public health authority about the place of sexuality in our lives:

Sex can be very important for mental, social and physical well-being; it is a part of everyday life. People can, will and should continue to have sex during the COVID-19 pandemic. Messages that discourage or shame people from sexual contact can be harmful and may discourage people from seeking essential sexual health services.

All this sensible and realistic messaging was overshadowed by two words in parenthesis buried in the document. Clarifying New York’s “physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact,” the B.C. guidance added the parenthetical “(e.g., glory holes)”, igniting an internet firestorm which, helpfully, spread the word about the B.C. government’s plain-language guidance. Safer sex messaging in the era of clickbait.

Neither the New York nor the B.C. guidance comment on sex outdoors. This is a striking omission, given that meeting outdoors was widely recommended as a way to reduce the spread of COVID. As we learned more about how COVID was spreading, we learned that meeting indoors markedly increased the chances of a super-spreader event. Early studies of community spread at choir practice, a meat-packing plant, a restaurant, and a call centre all seemed to confirm that poor ventilation was a risk factor. We began to receive the public health messages that small, socially distant outdoor gatherings were safer than indoor ones.

COVID safer sex material, which mirrored the general guidance in so many ways — stay apart if you can, wear masks, wash your hands — was silent on venue.

Along the shaggy west shore of Toronto Island lies the city’s most famous cruising park. Hanlan’s Point Beach shambles from the edge of a refurbished airport at one end of the island. On the beach, the sand is plentiful, clumpy and greyish. Lake Ontario is so cold in spring that it is inadvisable to swim at Hanlan’s Point until August, when beach season is almost over.

But oh, those summer days. The beach is historically gay and, at one end, officially clothing-optional. On any hot sunny day, revellers arrive in wave after wave by ferry and water taxi, wearing backpacks or dragging coolers on wheels or carrying festive canvas diaper bags. Naked is popular, but impossibly small and colourful swimsuits are more so.

The queer people who party at Hanlan’s bring everything: blankets and towels, sure, but also pillows and umbrellas and battery-powered blenders for making margaritas. They bring iced coffee and beer and pot and party drugs, and endless varieties of portable stereos. On the busiest days, there is nowhere to lay your towel except overlapping with a stranger’s, and the music is chaotic and competing. I am not the only one who brings foam earplugs and a paperback, but on weekends you must bring the former if you wish to enjoy the latter.

Behind the beach is a stand of squat poplar trees and bushes, 50 feet deep in places, and beyond that, a wide, paved walkway and a grassy park in the middle of the island with a swingset, a public washroom, and a little kiosk, The Mermaid Café.

From Hanlan’s Point Beach, you cannot see Marie Curtis Park, back on the mainland. It is hidden from view behind a westward jut of the city’s shoreline. The view from Hanlan’s is otherwise lovely — the city and its troubles seem hazy, distant, and you can make a game of trying to spot the smokestacks just on the edge of view, in far-off Hamilton.

At Hanlan’s, men cruise everywhere: the ferry dock, the beach, the café, the public john, the grass and even the metal bike racks that rim the park, as we do anywhere we gather.

But the stand of trees and bushes between the beach and the park offers the kind of privacy which allows cruising to escalate to sexual contact. The sex is not public but semi-public, since the nooks along the cruising paths are visually obstructed, in some cases just a few footsteps from the beach or park.

I was at Hanlan’s several times this summer, my first and sentimental favourite cruising park, although not with the daily devotion it inspires in some. The mood remained upbeat on the beach during the summer of COVID, although crowd sizes varied, and the municipal ferry and water taxis struck a somber tone. The water taxis — a private fleet of 10- or 12-person boats, their drivers wearing flower-printed shirts — were the preferred option of people skittish about crowds in the concrete waiting pen at the municipal dock. On the boats, masks were mandatory.

It was in the bushes at Hanlan’s that I encountered a COVID safer-sex strategy which I had not read about in any of the materials produced by official sources.

Imagine Hanlan’s, late summer, 2020. I am at the beach on a weekend afternoon with four friends. The beach is busy but, because temperatures are already starting to slip, it is not the complete chaos of the high season. The afternoon has a lazy air.

I poke my head into the bushes around 3 p.m. It is too cold to be naked, and I am wearing a basketball jersey. I am perhaps thirty feet from my friends on one of the well-trod paths when I catch the eye of a handsome cub. He is wearing a speedo, a backpack, and sandals. He looks at me and looks down. I turn back toward my friends, but turn again and he is still looking at me.

I approach. He says, “I thought you were here with your girlfriend.” He pulls a towel from his bag, spreads it out, and quickly kneels down onto it. He lies down on his back.

He does not suggest — verbally or otherwise — that I join him on the towel. He doesn’t offer oral sex or anything that involves touching. Instead, in the gentlest voice possible, with his warm eyes looking up at me, he asks me to jerk off, to cum on his face. And then lying there underneath me, he began to tug on his speedo.

It was only afterwards that I realized what he was offering, from a public health point of view. No kissing or contact. No touching of any kind. His face and my face were six feet apart, consistent with the COVID guidelines for socially distant outdoor meetings, except not six feet horizontally. Six feet vertically.

Not to state the obvious, but sex in a park does not have to be sex with a stranger. Two (or more) people can go to a park together, find a quiet corner, and get busy. This is not uncommon among couples of all orientations who live with their parents, do not have access to private space, or are otherwise unable to host at home.

Straight people do it all the time — on a blanket in the park after sunset, in the backseat of a car in a lot overlooking a ravine — and when they do, it’s considered a harmless “Lovers Lane” scenario. If found, the couple may be told to “knock it off” or “move along” but there are rarely harsher consequences. When queer people do it, it is all too often viewed as a disgusting blight requiring a police crackdown.

This variety of non-anonymous park sex — queer or straight — is performed out of necessity, sure, but also just for fun. One illustration can be found in an early episode of the Audio Sex Party podcast. The podcast brings groups of queer and trans guys together for drinks and conversation about sex. In discussing parks, one unnamed partygoer recounts that he and his ex would meet and hang out, but rather than have sex at his apartment, they would sometimes go to a wooded area in a nearby cruising park. There, they would have sex with each other, semi-privately but in public. This is park sex, in other words, without cruising, or anonymity, or sex with people outside of your household.

The terms “cruising” and “public sex” are often used synonymously, but that’s not quite right. Cruising is something different. Cruising is a way of looking, a way of making yourself available to meeting people. When people cruise in parks, they are using coded signs — loitering, prolonged eye contact, a strategic tug — to indicate sexual availability. The sex that follows, if it follows, can take place anywhere: in the park, a bathroom, a car, or even someone’s home.

Take the definition of “cruising” in The Joy of Gay Sex. In it, the authors give an example of cruising that begins with non-verbal signals:

You’re walking down the street and you pass a man going in the opposite direction. Your eyes lock but you keep on moving. After a few paces you glance back and see that he has stopped in front of a window, but is looking directly at you. … If he does catch your fancy, you may go through the little charade of examining the shop window nearest you. After a bit, the frequency and intensity of exchanged glances will increase, and one of you will stroll over to the other….

What happens next in this fantasy, at least according to The Joy of Gay Sex, is not necessarily public sex: you may make small talk, invite him to a bar, or for a long bus ride to one of your homes for sex. The Joy of Gay Sex lists several variants: street cruising; bar cruising; telephone booth cruising; and car cruising; “Tearooms and Back Rooms” and “Baths” have their own listings. But the primary listing does not assume that cruising leads to sex in public, let alone outdoors.

Technically, it is the former form of park sex that is the safest, from a COVID perspective. Both the New York and B.C. guidelines suggest limiting sexual activity to those within the household, or otherwise reducing the overall number of sexual partners. Cruising — whether in the street, the park, or at a bar — only to bring the person back to your poorly ventilated apartment for extended, high-energy cardio will do nothing to stop the spread of COVID.

That said, park cruising as it is commonly practiced is ideally suited to reduce the spread of an airborne pathogen. It takes place outside, rather than in a contained space. Although not all outdoor spaces are like this, Marie Curtis Park and Hanlan’s Point are large and open. Breath dissipates. From a harm reduction perspective, even a stiff Canadian wind is a safer sex strategy in the age of coronavirus.

In a park, a drag queen speaks into a megaphone. Behind her two people stand near a giant pink ribbon
In a park, a drag queen speaks into a megaphone. Behind her two people stand near a giant pink ribbon
Six month after the raids on Marie Curtis Park, Queers Crash the Beat opened cruising season on May 12, 2017 with a festive ribbon cutting led by drag activist Mikiki (pictured).

Park cruising largely takes place away from crowds. Most encounters are between two or three people. Even the most epic circle jerk bears no resemblance to the photos that emerged this summer of throngs of people congregating in Trinity Bellwoods, photos which caused such unnecessary pearl clutching. Unlike their multi-hour “park hangs”, cruising encounters tend to be fleeting and brief.

Depending on the activity, people can stand apart and refrain from touching, kissing, or exchanging bodily fluids. And masks are no barrier: anonymity is so engrained in cruising culture, so sexualized and fetishized, that wearing a mask enhances rather than detracts from one of the pastimes’ chief pleasures.

Public authorities were wrong about parks at the beginning of the pandemic. Here in Ontario, the government closed most provincial parks in the first weeks of the emergency. City of Toronto parks remained opened, but with a dwindling list of permitted uses. You could walk through them but not stop and hang out. Police were dispatched to monitor usage. If there was a dominant, early image of parks this spring, it was this one: strips of yellow caution tape, ends flapping in the wind, marking children’s slides and swing-sets off limits. The villains of this early period were unmasked joggers and cyclists, who it was thought, incorrectly, could easily pass on the virus to you as they panted by.

By summer, most people had begun to internalize the message that risk of infection came down to concentration of airborne COVID multiplied by length of exposure. Sitting six feet apart in a park, one was unlikely to pass on the virus because millions of cubic feet of fresh air in large outdoor spaces diluted any possible exposure to the point that it was no longer risky. Copying an idea from Dolores Park in San Francisco, the City of Toronto drew circles in the grass at Trinity Bellwoods, helping people to stay distanced. The prohibition on loitering in parks lifted, and, in summer, parks became the safest place for friends who had been separated by the virus to meet and catch up. Park use flourished.

Parks are intended to be mixed-use: someone is walking their dog, someone is having a picnic, someone is doing tai chi. Park cruising is compatible with these other legitimate uses of the space. As Marsha MacLeod and Jen Roberton argued in Spacing Magazine in 2016, urban planners should recognize that cruising is part of the ecosystem of many parks, and that the needs of park cruisers can and should be balanced with those of other users of the space.

Park sex is mostly invisible to non-participants, or as John Rechy wrote almost 50 years ago, it is “visible only to homosexuals and to the cops.” The truth is, most park cruising most of the time happens outside of view of park users — late at night, off the path, behind a stand of trees, in the least lit and least used areas of the park. No one wants for people to be unwittingly confronted by sexual activity they don’t want to see, and in the vast majority of instances, that’s not an issue.

Hanlan’s Point and Marie Curtis are not the only cruising parks in the city. For example, if you follow a bike path off Regatta Road behind Toronto’s Cherry Beach, there is a network of footpaths where men cruise, especially after nightfall.

This summer, the footpaths at Regatta Road got a new sign at the entrance, officially closing that area of the park at 7 p.m. Toronto parks are already closed between midnight and 5:30 a.m. — “closed,” whatever that means. Most Toronto parks are not fenced or gated, so they remain physically accessible even when they are “closed.” People use Toronto parks around the clock, but the closure bylaw allows police to ticket people for trespassing in public parks after they are nominally closed. The distribution of trespass tickets is highly discretionary, and therefore prone to police bias. Historically, park trespass was a status crime, used to target those who are homeless or underhoused, people of colour, and people who use drugs. (This is especially salient now, as people camp in parks to avoid the shelter system, a hotbed of COVID transmission.)

The new 7 p.m. closure of Regatta Road has the whiff of curfew, and it is a bad idea for all of the normal reasons, plus some new ones. If park cruising is a safer sex strategy during the pandemic, then closing it off means men may engage in riskier behaviour — sexual encounters in cars, bathrooms, or in their own apartments, each of which carries a greater risk of the spread of COVID. More likely, men will continue to cruise at Regatta Road despite the ban, reducing the risk of COVID, but increasing the risk of unwanted police encounters, criminalization, and contact with the justice system.

Park cruising is a safer sex strategy in the age of COVID. Of course it is. It was obvious to the men on Squirt’s Marie Curtis Park page from the very first days of the pandemic. My point is something different.

Carly Boyce, a rad queer femme who I podded with early in the pandemic, was clear from the jump: whatever the public health advice we get, we are going to have to translate it to be useful to our lives. The translation of COVID public health warnings started at the micro level, with individuals and small groups negotiating the terms of their sexual contact. It began on message boards like the ones on Squirt, without any institutional approval or officially sanctioned means of distribution. As the conversations spread and became more public, they became susceptible to COVID-shaming backlash, and therefore — to my eye at least — became more cautious and conservative.

Still, there are exceptions. The Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance (GMSH) has released two waves of Public Service Announcements which translate public health advice in no-nonsense ways. The PSAs take the form of 15 second spots, which are posted to Youtube and play before videos on Pornhub. Starring members of the Boylesque TO cabaret crew, they are shot in the bedrooms and bathtubs of its members. The tone is campy and intimate and the messages are simple: stay home and jerk off, participate in online communities, have sex with people in your households.

The second wave of ads, “How to Keep Your Bubble Tight”, is less literal and goes further. In one vignette, two queerdos sit on a couch. One of them, wearing a silky robe, pearls, and hot pink lipstick, holds a cartoonishly large telephone. With his hand muffling the phone, he speaks to the camera, conspiratorially: “I am taking a break from my bubble before tonight’s hookup,” he says. Then, speaking into the phone, “Sorry, Grandma. I’ve got a hot date tonight. See you in two weeks, gurl.” The other fellow downs a glass of wine.

The message — if you engage in a risky activity, you can keep others safe by limiting contact with high-risk populations — is sensible advice. It is echoed in an Instagram pamphlet produced by Fagdemic called “Hookups, Anon and Chemsex Parties.” The pamphlet is full of good advice: avoid using hookup apps if you’re high and horny, see a closed group of trusted fuckbuddies, ask about the health and behaviours of partners, etc. Toward the back is a suggestion that goes one step further than that of the GMSH: If you go to a chemsex party or orgy, it may be a good idea to self-isolate from everyone, not just Grandma, for two weeks afterwards.

Both the GMSH and Fagdemic also suggest using frequent COVID-19 testing as a way to keep yourself safe and limit the spread of COVID. In another segment of the GMSH PSAs, two men sit at far opposite ends of a park bench. To the camera, in unison, they say, “we are waiting on our test results before we get closer.” Then they look at their phones, flash them to the camera, grin, and scooch closer. Wink wink.

Ontario is now in the midst of a testing shortage and processing backlog, which suddenly throws this advice into doubt. It’s less practical to get testing now than it was even four weeks ago. And that lays bare one of the limitations of harm reduction in the age of COVID: it only works if there is enough resources and information for people to make informed decisions. It only works if authorities provide us not just with rules but rationales. Are the majority of new infections coming from gyms, indoor dining, theatres? Or from weddings, house parties, and family functions? How common is transmission in outdoor settings, and what can we learn from such events?

In the early days of the AIDS crisis, gay men insisted on receiving not just the official protocols, but also the underlying public health information and pharmaceutical research. It was our communities who took that data — incomplete and contingent as it was — and used it to fashion strategies which were controversial at the time, but that we now think of as common sense.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I had low-level dread that the global health crisis would only bring out the worst in people. People hoarded toilet paper. Shops started price-gouging. But as the months went on, we saw different kinds of shortages. It was impossible to buy yeast, or plastic pots for indoor plants. It was impossible to adopt a puppy. And it turned out that, in the face of anxiety and uncertainty, and with extra time (and in some cases a break from money worries, thanks to income-replacement programs), we wanted to take care of things: to bake bread for our loved ones, or look after a Jack Russell terrier, or nurture a Xanadu philodendron.

In isolation, we crave connection. Our communities know all about this kind of yearning. We also know that connection carries risk — risk of rejection, risk of violence, risk of infection — and each of us has decided, over and over, that we are willing to accept at least some risk, at least some of the time. Because no queer can live in splendid isolation. No queer is an island.

And that connection doesn’t only happen with our best friends or our long-term lovers. It often comes from brief encounters. Samuel Delany, writing about cruising in a different context, describes it this way: “A glib wisdom holds that people like this just don’t want relationships. They have ‘problems with intimacy.’ But the salient fact is: These were relationships.”

Ultimately, park sex and cruising force us to confront one of the most difficult questions: what are we so afraid of? Risk reduction analysis inevitably rankles those who are unaccustomed to seeing the world through the lens of comparative risk. For some, extramarital, non-procreating sex is already a frill, something tolerated in good times but carrying no real value. For them, the urge to prohibit a variety of sexual activities is strong. It is all upside. But that cannot be so.

Early in the pandemic, queer disabled voices reminded us that the stakes are higher for them, and that selfish, careless, or defiant flouting of public health guidance puts disabled people more at risk than their able-bodied peers. As restrictions eased this summer, the focus of criticism has rightly turned from individual noncompliance to the failures of our public health apparatus and our politicians’ twisted priorities. These interventions are not incompatible with the harm reduction messages of the GMSH or Fagdemic, since everyone has the same goal: reduce the spread of the virus and get the pandemic under control.

As we steer our way through the coming months of the pandemic, with frayed nerves and shortened fuses, we must find space for these kinds of conversations, and for many other conversations about what’s at stake when we take risks, and why we take them. And hopefully we can tackle these conversations with some degree of humility, knowing that no one has navigated the pandemic perfectly, that perfection isn’t necessarily the goal. This is the sentiment that animates the final sentence of the Fagdemic Chem Sex pamphlet. It calls out COVID shaming, and proposes another way of interacting: “Rather than Shame or police someone for that they do, what if we asked what’s really going on, or how to support each other?”

Cited in this article

“Covid-19 and Sex.” BC Centre for Disease Control. July 21, 2020. http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/prevention-risks/covid-19-and-sex

“Safer Sex and Covid-19.” NYC Health. June 8, 2020. https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/imm/covid-sex-guidance.pdf

GMSH and Boylesque TO. “How to Keep Your Covid Bubble Tight.” Youtube. October 9, 2020: https://youtu.be/moRk8NYuf3g

Fagdemic, “Hookups, Anon, and Chemsex Parties.” Instagram. October 2, 2020: https://www.instagram.com/f4gd3m1c/

Erin Bromage. “The Risks: Know them, avoid them.” Erinbromage.com. May 6, 2020. https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them

Tristan Bronca. “Covid-19: A Canadian Timeline.” Canadian Healthcare Network. April 8, 2020: https://www.canadianhealthcarenetwork.ca/covid-19-a-canadian-timeline

Samuel R Delany. Time Square Red, Time Square Blue. New York UP, NYC: 1999.

Jacques Gallant. “Tickets withdrawn after “morality raids” in Etobicoke’s Marie Curtis Park.” The Toronto Star. October 29, 2017. https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/10/29/tickets-withdrawn-after-morality-raids-in-etobicokes-marie-curtis-park.html

GMSH. Audio Sex Party podcast. Isaac Würmann, Teresa Goff, and Phillip Banks. November 20, 2019: https://shows.acast.com/audio-sex-party-pilot/episodes

Declan Keogh. “Panic In Marie Curtis Park.” Now Magazine. November 23, 2016. https://nowtoronto.com/panic-in-marie-curtis-park

Marsha MacLeod and Jen Roberton. “Is Public Sex in Parks a Public Safety concern?” Spacing Magazine, November 28, 2016. http://spacing.ca/national/2016/11/28/public-sex-parks-public-safety-concern/

Julia Marcus. “Quarantine Fatigue is Real.” The Atlantic. May 11, 2020. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/quarantine-fatigue-real-and-shaming-people-wont-help/611482/

Marcus McCann. “Project Marie is shocking but at least as gay men we know how to respond.” Daily Xtra. November 14, 2016. https://www.dailyxtra.com/project-marie-is-shocking-but-at-least-as-gay-men-we-know-how-to-respond-72380

Kevin Neilson. “A timeline of the novel coronavirus un Ontario.” Global News. April 24, 2020 (updated October 9, 2020). https://globalnews.ca/news/6859636/ontario-coronavirus-timeline/

John Rechy. The Sexual Outlaw: A Documentary. Grove Press, NYC: 1977 (1990), quote at p 99.

Charles Silverstein and Felice Picano. The Joy of Gay Sex. New York: Harper Collins. 2003 (Third Edition)

“Timeline: WHO’s COVID-19 Response.” World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/interactive-timeline#!

Full disclosure: I was a vocal opponent of the raid at Marie Curtis Park at the time, including helping to organize legal defences through the Law Union of Ontario listserv for those involved. I was also a member of Queers Crash the Beat and participated in various of their interventions, although not the one described in this article.

Landing photo by Trevor Brown from Unsplash

Written by

Marcus is a lawyer who writes and lectures about state regulation of sexuality. Toronto, Canada.

Marcus is a lawyer who writes and lectures about state regulation of sexuality. Toronto, Canada.

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