In this exploration of the ways men have sought men for fleeting sexual encounters, the author traces this subversive practice from Greek antiquity to the notorious Molly houses of 18th century England, from the raucous 1970s to the algorithms of Grindr, and from Oscar Wilde to George Michael.
What makes this book so appealing is the way Espinoza combines his own experiences of cruising from adolescence to the present, and as a Chicano, with a cogent analysis of the role of cruising; an antihegemonic activity against a patriarchal system—and he writes beautifully ... Recommended for LGBT and contemporary culture collections.
One of the most interesting discussions in the book asks whether the contemporary hook-up culture promoted by apps like Grindr and Scruff is an extension of cruising or an entirely different practice ... there are many thorny questions raised by the culture of cruising that Cruising side-steps or simply does not ask. Cruising is a relatively brief book and clearly meant to be celebratory. As such, it is hardly the last word on the subject. If it was simply a memoir, based on Espinoza’s positive experience of cruising, it could be taken at face value. But cruising as the practice of men having sex in public spaces raises some tough questions and, because the book calls itself a history, however brief, a reader might legitimately ask why they were not addressed as part of that history ... As a memoir, Cruising is touching, resonant, and deeply felt. As a history of cruising it is, if not definitive, a provocative starting point. Whatever its omissions, Espinoza’s book invites us to think about the right to freedom of sexual expression and where it fits in within the larger aims of the LGBTQ community. That’s certainly a discussion worth having.
... a well-intentioned but clumsy Cruising fails to live up to the demands of the moment ... In lieu of hard evidence, [Spinoza] presents a portrait of same-sex interactions as they likely existed... In this way, Cruising too often becomes a meandering general history of the homosexual and/or same-sex-desiring body in its historical context, rather than a narrowly focused history of cruising as an act ... Cruising is most interesting when Espinoza lavishes attention on...long-overlooked nooks, crannies, and ephemera—but these moments also reveal a disheartening imbalance. Espinoza expends far too much energy setting the stage for these mini-histories, only to rush on to the next subject with the slightest of nods to how cruising worked within whatever social, economic, or political scene ... geosocial platforms are now a, if not the, primary arena for gay sex—and if we’re to understand their implications, we need a clear analysis of the larger historical trends of gentrification, assimilation, and legislation that pushed gay sex from the public sphere in the final decades of the twentieth century. Cruising declines to provide one.