first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week The same weekend in the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, two men were cited for engaging in a lewd act in public. And one woman also was given a citation, according to police records. “You cannot say it’s any one type of person,” Budd said. “A lot of these guys are married. We had one guy ask, ‘Will I be out of here pretty soon? I have to pick up my daughter at school.’ “ In county parks alone, police made 57 lewdness-related arrests from May 2004 to June 2005, according to statistics from the Office of Public Safety. The statistics do not specify the sex of the person arrested or cited. The act of going to public places in hopes of finding a willing partner is commonly called cruising. They claim to meet in a bathroom at Pasadena City College, to rendezvous in the bushes at the Whittier Narrows Dam Recreation Area and to peek over the stalls in Westfield West Covina mall. For years, men looking for a quick tryst have found it in public restrooms, parks and health clubs, among other places, according to members of the area’s gay community and authorities. “It’s a whole subculture, and it’s everywhere,” said Lt. Randy Budd of the Los Angeles County Office of Public Safety, which patrols county parks. During an undercover operation last month, Public Safety police arrested six men at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area on suspicion of committing a lewd act or propositioning a lewd act in public. “I’ve been doing reading, and there is evidence of what we now call cruising at Mexican plazas 100 years ago,” said Richard Zaldivar, executive director of the The Wall-Las Memorias Project, an association that installed a memorial wall in Los Angeles to people who died from AIDS. “I know of cruising taking place almost everywhere. At the Montebello Town Center, at church. Anywhere where people would have the chance to make eyes at each other.” Cruising has given rise to several Web sites that list the best places to meet other men. “I’ve been going here for several years and I always end up getting some action,” wrote one Internet user about the area near the San Dimas Canyon Nature Center. Cruisers also use the Internet to give words of caution. “Last year I was busted in the park,” one Internet user wrote about Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area. “Twelve of us were busted in total. . . Just be careful!” Nearly every area city has a “hot spot” listed on Internet sites. Officials at some “cruisy” places said they were not aware of any such activity. Even though the bathroom on the third floor of Building C at Pasadena City College is listed on Web sites as a good place to cruise, Pasadena City College Police Lt. Brad Young said it has not been reported to him as a problem. “That bathroom is right next to the school’s administration,” Young said. “I think anybody who wanted to do that type of thing would go as far from there as possible.” Others say they are cracking down on the practice. “(Police) have increased their patrolling because of some of that activity,” said Belinda Faustinos, director of the San Gabriel & Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy. Officials from homosexual-rights groups argue stings at area parks, such as the one conducted at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, tend to single out gays. “What they usually are using is old complaints from years ago that they address again and again,” said Jon Davidson, legal counsel for Lambda Legal, a homosexual advocacy group that challenged the Los Angeles Police Department procedures for conducting lewdness stings. “If they sent out women saying they were interested in engaging in public sexual activity with men, I’m sure there would be lots of men who responded. But they never, ever do that.” Los Angeles County Police officers said they only respond to new complaints, and the main type of complaint they get is men having sex with men. Budd also said officers often cite heterosexual couples for lewdness-related charges. Indiana University Professor Michael Reece has studied the phenomenon of cruising extensively. He said those who do it often do not identify with homosexuals. “They wouldn’t hang out in gay bars, so this is kind of the only place left for them to meet other men,” he said. And fears that children might come upon men engaged in sex are unfounded, he said. “There is really almost no evidence of that happening,” he said. “But the fact is, it is illegal to have sex in a public place.” Ben Baeder can be reached at (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2703, or by e-mail at [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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