Monday, September 12, 2011

We have been noticed

[Warning: links contain ads with graphic sexual images.]

This blog is now proud to be the subject of debate on, a website that reviews sites - including Prospect Park, obviously - for cruising, as well as publishing other helpful information for those in need of a good time.

A second and third reading of this post below suggests to me that this was posted to the forum by someone rather closer to our activities than one may imagine. Which is depressing, but explains a lot. I could be wrong.

Posted Aug 28 2011: 
The expanded police patrols are the result of a woman who got her panties twisted up in a bunch over all the condoms and other sex litter throughout this section of the park. She even contacted the New York Times which published an article on the whole situation. Her blog is on a constant smear campaign:

[Editor: the blog includes her contact information]

So if you found this blog from Cruising for Sex, for the record, here is my mission: I could care less about the sex, boys, as I know that will never change. What I care about is:

1. The litter that you leave behind. Please clean up after yourselves. Take the used condoms, the wrappers, the lube, the soiled tissue paper, and all evidence of other snacks such as chips and juice and beer, bag them all neatly in your goody bag and drop them in a trash can. Take out what you bring in. So to speak.

2. The maze of paths created in your pursuit of sex in this forest? They are damaging trees. They are helping kill the forest. Why should no one care about this?

As for the "constant smear." Interesting choice of words, considering the nature of the litter. Please. We would not be there if these woods were pristine. Help us conserve them. Show some respect. They are for everyone, not just you.

And get married, already. You know, to the man you love. I'm a big supporter.

So, you are actually my target audience. Welcome. Clean up, and we will go away. That's a promise.

Better yet, join us every other Tuesday. Clean your playground. We don't bite.


Sasha said...

Hi, Marie, I'm a frequent reader over at 66 Square Feet, and love your blog, love your pictures, love that you didn't hand over that tomato picture to a giant corporation, and admire the work you do with the Litter Mob.

I'm sad to see that the posting on ListingforSex about the Mob had to invoke the sexist metaphor about your getting your "panties in a bunch." Aside from being misogynistic, it's also just puzzling to me: who wants to have sex in a pile of other people's sex trash anyway? And that's not even to speak of the actual issue of respecting public space, trees, the earth, etc. But I know I'm speaking to the converted, so I'll get to my next point.

I completely understand the point of your response here, as well as your playful tone...notwithstanding that, I also wanted to respectfully point out that one of the many difficult things about DL culture is that men on the DL can't just "get married," and it's probably no more helpful to lob that suggestion at the sex-trashers than it is for them to be hateful and sexist towards you. And if it were that simple, that men on the DL could "just" get married and move on, then there'd probably be less sex in the park. Also, while I hate the words they used to talk about you and the Litter Mob, knowing what I do about the NYPD and people of color in this city, I recognize that if cops have started arresting men having sex with other men in the park (many of whom are probably men of color), the manner in which that policing takes place is not likely to be free from racist/homophobic slurs and worse.

I'm not a parks/public space expert - and at any rate, far less so than you - but I am a civil rights worker, and importing that expertise to this situation, I offer this: to refer to your underpants is distasteful and immature at best, while sexist and hateful at worst. That said, cruising and DL culture are complicated phenomena that can't be addressed by something as simple as an invitation to get married - and to suggest as much could be sound more divisive/sarcastic than inviting/helpful.

I applaud the work done by the Litter Mob and you. I can't imagine picking up a billion soiled condoms and other sex trash. It's gross and it's offensive to the trees and the resources we share, so I have to thank you for being someone who does something about it. I just hope that, going forward, if you and the ListingforSex people do keep talking about the spaces you both try to share, that you do so without attacking one another's identities (whether intentional or not).

Marie said...

A thoughtful response, thank you Sasha.

Yes, I realized that my remark about getting married was glib, and I meant it flippantly, but also to demonstrate that there is nothing particularly prejudiced about my attitude to men having sex with men.

And obviously marriage does not spell the end of sex outside marriage.

And, yes, I understand the whole DL thing. Some of these men are married. To women. Who have no idea.

But again, I look at it from another side and say, why cut these guys so much slack? Why show them the consideration they do not show themselves? Their behaviour has resulted in a public mess. Only they can change that.

Sasha said...

Hi, Marie, thanks so much for your thoughtful response.

Maybe I don't have an unassailable answer to why we should all attempt to show consideration to one another, even when it's really tough, but here go my best efforts.

I personally think that we show ourselves consideration and respect when we show it to others -- and even (or especially) when we show it to others who we feel don't do the same for themselves. We live in a society, so when it comes to everyday people/communities interacting with other people/communities, we are our most efficacious selves when we show consideration to others -- it almost never matters who those "others" are. This doesn't mean that we always agree, or that we condone one another's bad behavior, but instead just that social change is made out of construction rather than destruction. Your sincere invitation that ListingforSex join the Litter Mob for a clean up is a strong example of construction for positive social and environmental change.

As for cutting people slack, I very much understand your frustration -- but I'm not suggesting that the LM be silent about the situation. It's undeniable that the trash should be picked up and that it's terrible that it's left there, polluting shared space. My point is just that the environment and MSM/guys on the DL are not at all natural enemies, and don't need to position themselves at odds to one another. In fact, in many other situations, the groups are likely to find themselves petitioning for mutually needed resources (parks, public space, schools, libraries, health care, HIV testing, bike lanes, sex education = ALL needed for a better society). Working in coalitions is almost always very challenging in my experience, and sometimes people don't want to -- but when we're able, it's the most powerful and significant way.

P.S. As I'm sure you know, today is the anniversary of Mr. Biko's assassination - so an important/auspicious day to have a discussion about social change (no matter of which magnitude).

Anonymous said...

can't they just pick up after themselves? keep up the good work. maybe they'll figure out that no litter means no nosy redhead. ;)

webb said...

And, you know... if the trees die from the compacted earth, then there will be no shelter for sex. The participants would be helping themselves - long term - if they would pick up now and stay to the real paths now.

Cruisemaster said...

Has anyone installed readily available and visible containers for trash along the trails? Over at Hampstead Heath in London (one of my personal favorites), as notorious as Prospect for this kind of activity, they not only have containers in the park where the cruising happens, they actually have decently placed lighting to make sure the canisters are visible (without creating too much brightness). This along with containers of condoms and lube has greatly reduced the trash left behind. Of course there will always be trash where humans gather and there will always be trails where woods exist. I suggest you deal with those realities, too, along with doing a great job keeping a lovely park clean.

Marie said...

Cruisemaster - no, no trashcans.

Interesting about HH.

Trash cans in these hotspots: yep, one of my earliest suggestions, before I realized that the trails themselves are harmful to the trees.

The Prospect Park Alliance's objection is that if trashcans are installed they are encouraging or condoning the activities here. My point is that the behaviour will continue, regardless, so let's just be realistic and install the trash cans already. They also say that they do not have the personpower to empty the trash...

I still hope.

The trampling issue is separate. Tough one.

Condom Wars said...

I certainly do consider it a smear campaign as it seems for the most part, one sided. And why would a cruiser want to get involved in the the Litter Mob if you constantly rub one's nose in the excrement via your constant barrage of dirty photographic evidence. And for some reason you think it is okay to post a photo of an actual person in those woods with the caption "Another solitary man heading into the woods for pleasure while the chainsaw buzzed." and "Really a bizarre scene. Downed trees and sex traffic." While I understand that the trash is constant, I think it is counterproductive in getting the guilty parties involved with all of the shock value photographs constantly posted here.
And really, I believe it to be a very poor excuse on your part that you haven't had the time to contact a LGBT organization to help mediate in this ugly situation. That in itself says a whole lot about the way this whole situation has played out thus far. You've obviously put forth a lot of time and dedication to posting to this this blog. And posting comments on other blogs about the matter. It only takes a few minutes to pick up the phone and have a direct conversation with someone about getting some help or advice about how to proceed with a lot more diplomacy than has been shown here. A whole lot can be read between the lines here on this blog. I certainly am not the only one who has taken notice to that.

Condom Wars said...

Just to be clear. I did not write the term "panties twisted in a bunch" via the above mentioned blog as a misogynistic insult. I'll admit I was a bit excited when I wrote the posting. And I sincerely apologize if Marie was offended by it. I think Sasha had projected an entirely different meaning upon it. But that sometimes in the texting and blogging world.

Marie said...

Condom Wars - I post pictures of a lot of litter. Bottles, bags, gum wrappers, the works. I post pictures of condom wrappers because that is the main litter on the forest floor and there are a lot. Trust me, there is a great deal that I do not post.

There is nothing to read between the lines. I cannot believe that this litter is acceptable to anyone. What do you think about it - the litter, I mean?

We will be contacting LGBT groups, by the way. But it is not going to be as simple as one phone call.

I was not offended by the term you used, though thanks for mentioning it; it kind of goes with the territory...

If you were cleaning up this litter - in this very precious green space - on a regular basis, and your goal was to end the litter - what would you do? Do you have any constructive advice?

Anonymous said...

Another Perspective, Part 2

This is lively conversation, and phenomenon. Surely, there are conditions of the park, and how the people in it—all of us—that are of concern. The Litter Mob collective has put in large amounts of work that most people would not be likely to do. I cannot image that many people aspire to working such custodial jobs, not the Doe Fund workers who are cleaning up other people's trash throughout the city's Business Improvement Districts or those of us who are not desperate for employment. Thank you for cleaning up, for spending free time volunteering to preserve what could be thought of as Brooklyn's largest backyard.

Commenter Sasha has contributed a good deal of understanding and consciousness of various aspects of humanity and equity (and social justice) that are important for anyone to consider, and especially for us all to be mindful of in practice given the intricacies of the subject matter. Thank you, Sasha.

My position is that litter is not tolerable. To change a careless behavior such as littering, one must change one's self. To not change a negative behavior is much easier. No one wants to feel bad about what they do, to be considered a culprit. To be defensive against a perceived accusation is different from being receptive to healthy and beneficial criticism.

A few times when reading this blog, I did feel targeted, as though anger is directed at my actions, as though a photo of a man taken without his permission or knowledge, perhaps, and recontextualized within a singular discussion of his perceived contributions to what angers you might need to be reexamined within a (personal or public) conversation about journalistic ethics. The writing on this blog has not been offensive. But, when you feel as though you may be discriminated against, but cannot find any concrete evidence of it to help others see your perspective, you still feel accused.

Anonymous said...

Another Perspective, Part 3

Where are am I coming from? I am a man who has been sexually active in Prospect Park for about twenty years. The spaces wherein men gather and interact have moved as a result mostly of police pressure, steering men away from one area, only for the men to reassemble in others regions. This migratory pattern is commonly observed within any public space that is, at times, co-occupied by people engaged in what I am comfortable referring to as illicit activity (be it sanctioned by law or not).

Heterosexuals have sex in the park as well, but not in the same quantity as male-only sex. I also feel comfortable making that observation without suffering from a myopic or even heterosexist perspective.

While increased garbage cans along paved paths are very useful, it means that more labor is involved to fill and empty them. As Marie pointed out, the Prospect Park Alliance seems to not want to talk about why the additional cans might be necessary. That they also don't want to be bothered chasing down men hanging around in the park for reasons that may related to the littering is a relief for this man who does not want to be chased away, even if down by law. Yes, I am existing in contradiction: I do not litter, but I am engaging in what could be considered by law as public lewdness, etc. (after dark when generally there is no one around to offend). This sense of problematization is not specific to my situation.

Anonymous said...

Another Perspective, Part 5

When interacting sexually with men in Prospect Park, I always carry my used up stuff to a trash can, dismissing anxious and unfounded concerns that the Prospect Park Alliance will retrieve my used condoms to run a DNA check, discover my identity, and prosecute me; I have no such narcissistic disturbance. With my partners, I usually suggest that they do not litter either, and receive mixed responses. Sometimes my tricks are already wrapping up a condom in a paper towel and shoving it into a pocket for what seems like preparation for appropriate disposal in a trash bin.

Other times, I might be teased, being told that I should not hang onto used condoms since they are not recyclable, that throwing them on the ground makes sense since condoms are biodegradable. [I can't add perspective about why someone would want to leave an empty bag of potato chips or an empty liquor bottle in the woods, because I cannot understand the reasons for ingesting that toxic stuff in the first place.] Sure, none of the dismissive responses I get about post-coital clean up are reasonable talk. It is all self-insulating denial.

Denial might be what many men are engaged in order to live with any dissonance in their lives, and/or, they just don't care that not only are they trampling the earth in ways it is not prepared to accommodate, but that their litter is justified. Maybe they don't want to get caught with a reusable bottle of lubricant since it could be evidence of their activities, unlike a "disposable" single-use packet of lube.

Like any "bad" habit or negative behavior that is ultimately not healthy, the selflessness of such responsibility is hard to instill. How often can we change our own behaviors that we or others might not like? Changing our minds is difficult, and changing others' minds is even harder, especially since it requires them to do it, with patience.

Anonymous said...

Another Perspective, Part 4

Important in the complexities of the many variables involved is that the mostly African-American and West Indian men who comprise the demographic of men who have sex with men ("MSMs") who are observed to be hanging out in Prospect Park from the entrance at Empire Boulevard and Flatbush Avenue, heading west across the East Drive and into the Midwood are is that they are not to be criminalized for who they are. It is essential that considerations of class, ethnicity, and racism are part of our thinking and discourse.

I know we were just talking about litter before, but like its origins—and its resolution—is never as simple as we would like. ;-) We cannot draw conclusions about "what type of person" is littering, aside from that they are selfish in their littering. And who is cleaning up the litter on their own free time may be likely to be different from who might be seen as litterers. There is no homogeneity upon which stereotypes can be conceived, but our differences in class, ethnicity, and social privilege are equally important factors in our explorations. I recommend Samuel Delaney's significant book, Times Square Red, Times Square Blue for thorough analysis of MSM aggregates and public spaces.

I imagine that the men of European descent that used to cruise the northern Prospect Park West embankment may have stronger financial agency and social networks that support their gay identification, affording them the opportunity to patronize such higher-profile, commercial sex venues, where anonymity or chance of recognition may not be an option. Perhaps they have traded in the perceived thrills of sex in public for ordering it online through various web sites as many have. For any men who comfortably identify as being gay and/or are living with relative financial ease, a major attraction of the park is the convenience. I don't mean to hijack this comments section to go on about sex, but feel this information is relevant. And marriage is not a resolution, unless the implication is that sexual interest completely dies for gay male couples as it might in heterosexual relationships, keeping both groups of men out of the park where they have sex and may be littering.

For men who go to the park for sex, or simply to socialize, they might not have in their homes space, support, or there is a spouse, et al. there to explain things to. There also are not many (or any other) non-monetized gathering spaces for MSMs in Brooklyn. These are social and personal dilemmas that are not unique to our localized conversation. But how to inspire people to stop treating the park as both bottomless garbage pit and endlessly renewable resource (to quote Noam Chompsky) is still the central focus.

Anonymous said...

Another Perspective, Part 1
(Sorry about the many parts being out of chronological order; the comments form was giving problems, ;-( )

It might be safe to say that Olmsted & Vaux might not have envisioned the estimated eight million annual visitors to contemporary Prospect Park, and the effects such traffic would have without appropriate upkeep and governance, both personal and municipal.

Areas in the woodland are home to competitive plant species from around the world that, in undisturbed natural settings, would normally not co-habitate; however, these types of plants and trees were selected to co-exist in the man-made forests of Prospect Park.

Certain species have aggressively gained root space of neighboring flora, causing irreversible foliage extinction. Dirt run-off from hillsides has left other once-green areas with no soil for plants to to grow in. Artificial streams intermittently have clogged and dried up, and ponds had became stagnant and infested with aggressive phragmites reeds throughout the years.

Other examples of infrastructural problems have been evident throughout the park over the years, resulting in unintended—and at times—unsightly outcomes. (One example is the leaking water pipes of the three ponds in the Rose Garden; the ponds have been mostly dry since their initial failure in 1969, with the exception of a few attempts to get the southern-most fountain sputtering water again a few time within the last decade.)

Add in the natural curiosity of parkgoers to walk off of paved paths, to explore a wilderness unavailable in the city, or to seek out a rare moment of privacy in such a public arena, and it is understandable that the park's terrain will evidence the use it is unaccustomed to and unable to protect itself from.

Marie said...

Anonymous -

I'd like to compile your comments into a post of their own, as you raise several points of importance.

Can you give me a handle, or nom de plume that I may use? - otherwise you blend into all the other anonymae...(er).

Thanks you for spending so much time writing this - it is very helpful and well considered.

I know that the whole park is run down (east far more than west!). I have moaned about it. Personally, I think it silly to spend tens of millions on an ice rink rather than investing it in fixing eroded paths, installing real trash cans, with lids, all over the park, and for adequate maintenance of the wild, which as you point out, is not wild at all, and tame spaces.

In terms of my writing and posting I'll bear in mind what you have said. I am not trained as a journalist so might very well go barging through the issue with more passion than journalistic comme il faut.

I have never, ever posted a picture of someone's face, anyone from close quarters - and I never will. I think the number of humans -other than volunteers - you see in the blog number on less than one hand...But they are there and in a public space. But outing anyone is not, and never will be, my intent.

And I itch to take more pictures of people, but I know I can't, and I won't.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Marie.

Thanks for your speedy and nice reply. Your respect for others privacy, as well my minor contributions is great. ;-) Yes, there are so many parts of the park that developed "problems" of various types as time went on, as resources or foresight into how the spaces have become used were not available, for the usual harmless reason (mostly money not being available), as well as ill-considered judgement by the powers that be. I agree that the Wolman Rink rehab might not be a worthwhile investment, or that the area directly north of the Zoo (but south of Battle Pass) has become a significant eyesore through neglect and not knowing what to do with it. It is our passions that show we care. ;-)

Thank you for mending my post attempts. I'd emailed the post in its entirety to the litter mob Gmail address.

A name to post under could be Joy de Vivre. LOL!

Thanks much, and enjoy this beautiful day.