Reading time: 4min.

by Jack Smith

Take me out – the diary of a first-time cruiser

The well-known and much loved Paddy McGuiness regularly presents the show Take Me Out on ITV. For those who haven’t heard of it, it’s a dating programme where a single man tries to win over as many of the women on the panel, and choose one lucky lady to go to the Isle of Fernando’s to enjoy a date in the sun.

Now, as gay relationships are beginning to feature on other dating shows, I’ve always wondered what a gay version of Take Me Out might look like. Well, I don’t need to wonder anymore as I’ve practically taken part in the live show!

One park in London, Hampstead Heath is famous for one reason, amongst all others: cruising. Cruising is a slightly sleazy and promiscuous activity within the male gay community. It basically involves hooking up with strangers in discreet locations such as local parks and car parks. Everyone knows what goes on in this particular park so now even the police don’t venture down there. Well, not whilst on duty at least.

Being pretty innocent when it comes to sex, evidenced by not losing my virginity until a matter of days before my 21st birthday, I still decided I would visit the place on my next visit to London. I’m a gay lad and it’s almost a cultural experience, even a rite of passage – if you’ll pardon the terminology – for a guy to experience cruising at least once in their life. Now what better place to visit than the most famous cruising park in the whole country?
It’s not a very long walk from the tube station and as I walked down the path I noticed it was well worn. I couldn’t imagine how many men had walked along this track before me, or indeed how many would afterwards. Adrenaline had begun to kick in now and I was starting to feel a mix of excitement and nerves.

As I walked into the park, the place seemed a bit quiet, with only a couple of men around the area. After walking around for a bit, the place seemed to liven up, relatively busy for a Wednesday night. Suddenly, there were around fifteen guys cruising the area. I soon discovered a patch which seemed to be where the guys checked each other out, and I began loitering around for a bit though I had no real intention of pulling. I felt like I was on a catwalk as guys stood on the sidelines and peered at me in the darkness, trying to decide whether I was worth their time.

A hench guy approached me, casually putting his hands down my pants, and indicated that he’d like me to do the same. He was well hung, which just made my nerves worse as I anticipated how painful it could be if this went any further. Nerves eventually getting the better of me, I ended up making a quick exit with an excuse and headed up the track and out the park.

I would have to conclude after all that that if Paddy McGuiness needs any inspiration for a gay version of the show, I wouldn’t recommend taking a trip down Hampstead Heath. It turned out to be a much sleazier version of its TV equivalent, with no need for catch phrases like, ‘No likey, no lighty’, preferring the more effective ‘No lube, no problem’.