Is Piedmont Park still a cruising destination?

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If you’re one of the apparently few gay men in Atlanta that hasn’t walked the trails of Piedmont Park, Southern Voice will take you on a tour.

The five-minute video, complete with shots of condoms and other debris, moves along the trails that snake through a portion of the park.

Even in the age of the Internet, Craig’s List, Manhunt and the ability to order up sex and have it delivered to your door like pizza, men still cruise the park late at night looking for relations. At least that’s the argument of the Atlanta Police Department, which dismissed a recent murder in the park as having something to do with “male hustling.” Never mind that investigators haven’t offered any evidence to publicly support the claim.

imageWe’re a little dubious of claims that Piedmont remains some hotbed of cruising. Now don’t be mistaken, in years past portions of the park were thick with gay cruising. But we argue it’s taken a backseat to finding booty with a computer or iPhone. There’s an app for that, you know.

Regardless, the SoVo video is an interesting, if sometimes humorous, look at the park. But it’s a sidebar to a story the paper also published exploring the question of whether Piedmont is still king of the cruising queens. It’s a thorough look at the question, though it tends to lean on the side of lumping together all gay men who engage in public sex as closeted sex addicts.

The story also checks in with Keith Griffith, an Atlanta man who operates www.cruisingforsex.com. If anyone knows where to cruise, it’s this guy.

“It’s been off the cruising scene for awhile,” he said. “It’s nowhere what it used to be because so many people are around. My curiosity is if this man who was killed was specifically targeted. As a gay man, that makes me nervous if he was targeted intentionally. There are people out there who are angry about gay people’s existence.”

One specific tip he advises those who cruise a park is to always know how to get out, especially if in a hurry. That means checking the place out in the daytime, he explained, and learning the routes.

But why do men still cruise in parks?

“Why shouldn’t they?” he answered. “It’s one of life’s great experiences to have sex in the outdoors. As long as there are parks, especially nice ones like Piedmont Park, there will be people having sex there — and that’s gay, straight and bi people.”

By the way, the May 28 murder of Patrick Boland, 43, inside the park and the stabbing of another man minutes later, remains unsolved.

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