The Rainbow Project does not recommend cruising or cottaging due some elements of it which are illegal, and due to the dangers associated with attacks and unsafe sex. However if you decide to go for it keep these following tips in mind to ensure a safe and pleasant experience:
- Bring plenty of condoms and lube and insist on safer sex; respect yourself and your health!
- Be discreet when having sex. The more discreet you are the less chance there is of police activity or gay bashers.
- Only go cruising when you are not too drunk or on drugs. You will need to be on your guard at all times
- Leave your wallet and ID at home. Some attacks involve robbery and you do not want your identity to become known to your attacker.
- Wear clothes and shoes you can run in and do not wear headphones.
- Before you start checking out the men, check out the surroundings for exists and escape routes
- Be aware that some gay basher might pretend to be gay. Trust your instincts!
- Take any used condoms, wrappers etc. home with you. This kind of litter will draw complaints and police attention.
Being at a cruising or cottaging area is not illegal, but having exposing yourself or having sex in public where someone could see you is without doing something unusual like looking peeking underneath a cubicle door or taking out the binoculars.
If you get arrested, stay calm, co-operate but only give your name and ask for a solicitor. The solicitor will advise you on your rights and what to say and is bound by client confidentiality.
If you get attacked remember that this is a crime, whether or not you were involved in something illegal. Report the attack to the local police station and ask to speak to the Minority Liaison Officer. Someone from The Rainbow Project can escort you if you prefer someone else there. If you are not sure about reporting the attack, come and speak to someone in Rainbow first to consider your options.
SAFER CRUISING ON THE INTERNET
When you are mentally healthy you feel good about yourself, enjoy relationships, learn confidently and overcome your difficulties. When you aren't, you may feel overwhelmed by misery, anger or fear.
- You do not know who you are talking to; in a chat room anyone can pretend to be anyone and any age.
- Do not give out your home address or landline number or any other details until you have met the person and trust them.
- When you arrange to meet up let someone know where you are going to be and arrange for them to contact you during the meeting and let the person you are meeting know you have made these arrangements.
- Do not get too drunk; you need to stay on your guard and your performance now or later might not make the best impression.
- You are under no obligation to have sex with the person you are meeting up with. If you decide to go ahead insist on safe sex and bring condoms and lube.
- No chat room company will allow their staff to contact customers. If you are being blackmailed contact the Minority Liaison Officer at your local PSNI office.
For the safest form of cruising visit a gay sauna. After paying an entrance fee you will be in a safe and clean environment with like-minded people and condoms and lube freely available and it is legal! Going to a gay sauna does not mean you have to have sex; some men go just for the company or just to relax and be themselves. Most saunas provide a service where you can make an appointment with a member of staff to show you around the facilities first if you are nervous about going. Check out www.belfastgaysauna.com or www.garage-belfast.com.