In Australia, the term beat is used to refer to an area frequented by gay men and non-gay-identifying men who have sex with men cruising for casual sex, and where sexual acts occur. This use of the word parodies the beat walked by a police officer or a prostitute. Most commonly, public toilets, parks, and nightclubs are used as beats, though quite often a suburban car park becomes a beat once night falls.
- ↑ "gay" refers to men whose sexual activity is with other males and who identify as "gay" (largely a self-identity mindset).
- ↑ often abbreviated to MWHSWM or MSM, this term describes men who, whilst not identifying as "gay" (and who commonly have opposite-sex spouses as well as offspring) nonetheless indulge in sex with other men.
- ↑ Sex researchers have found that a very considerable proportion of men who use "beats" for sexual pick-ups are MSMs (see note '2' above) rather than gay-identifying. This is possibly because, whilst gay men have a plethora of venues for meeting legitimately, MSMs - who are invariably "in the closet" re their male-to-male sexual activities - do not; they dare not risk being observed in (or reported as attending) gay venues.
Although little is known about beats in the early colonial and Federation periods, it is known that specific areas in larger cities, such as Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane have recorded histories of use for this purpose through the 20th century to the present (Moore, 1995). A gay club in Brisbane is named "The Beat". One particularly popular beat in Adelaide is the Veal Gardens which is run by a mysterious character going by the name Ricky M.
Social and sexual behaviour in beats Edit
Presently, beats are known to be actively used by men who have sex with men. Due to the casual nature of most of the encounters, beats have been identified as areas of high risk for the transmission of HIV, syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections.
Engaging in sexual activity in a public place is against the law in all States and Territories. Police have been criticised for excessive patrolling of known beats, and the defence of entrapment is commonly used by those caught when charged. However, people using beats are also more likely to be subject to homophobic hate crimes and other general crimes than gay men who don't use beats, prompting some to welcome the police presence (Moore, 1995). In Sydney at least, gay beats have attracted some attention from some sections of the media. This has led to a police presence at those identified.
See also Edit
Moore, Clive. 1995. ‘Poofs in the Park: Documenting Gay "Beats" in Queensland, Australia’, GLQ, vol. 2. pp. 319-339.
- Queer Australia's list of beats by State
- Medical Journal of Australia 2005; 183 (4) - Epidemic syphilis among homosexually active men in Sydney
- The Anti-Violence Project's Sydney Safety Information
- Squirt's global listing of gay cruising areas