First, let's define anonymous. There were three definitions in the Webster's Dictionary: 1. without any name acknowledged, as that of author, contributor, etc. 2. not named or identified. 3. lacking individuality, unique character, or distinction.

Anonymous sex usually takes place in public or semi-public spaces and appears to be an almost exclusively male phenomenon. Many men who engage in anonymous sex with other men don't even consider themselves to be gay or bisexual. Their sexual orientation is beside the point. It's about sex. It happens in rest areas, state parks, truck stops, gyms, parking lots, adult bookstores, bathhouses and the back rooms of gay bars. There's even an Internet website ( that will tell you where to find anonymous sex in various areas of the country.

In a recent edition of the southern nightlife guide Eclipse, syndicated gay columnist Kirk Read contributes an article about anonymous, public sex detailing his exploits from age 16 to the present. Read calls cruising for sex a "fetish." He pretty much ignores the psychological ramifications a lifetime of anonymous sexual encounters might have on someone. Even when he's smart enough to observe that "cruising is by nature a very solitary activity," he can't seem to grasp the significance of the isolation. He never questions why a man would prefer sex in a public space with a stranger. Intimacy issues? He doesn't seem even remotely aware that it can be a compulsive behavior or an addictive behavior. His sole nod to the danger of such activity is that you can get busted. His bottom line? "Be aware that cruising is an outlaw activity with the potential for delightfully erotic experiences and unspeakably horrible legal troubles." Isn't outlaw a cute word? Kinda makes you think you're watching a Bonanza rerun, doesn't it? Read would have you believe those so-called legal troubles ultimately pale in comparison to all the delightful erotic experiences waiting for you in the bathroom at Sears or that rest area 65 miles away from your house.

Get real. Any sane person knows a fifteen-second orgasm with a total stranger is hardly worth risking "unspeakably horrible legal troubles." In his article, Kirk Read even suggests you "know and assess your legal risks." Is this guy naive enough to believe men into anonymous, public sex assess anything more than their chances of getting or giving a blowjob?

Men, especially gay men, should stop glamorizing and romanticizing anonymous sexual encounters. If this was a truly satisfying sexual expression, a man wouldn't be cruising his 357th trick in a parking lot or a rest area. There is a desperate need at work here. That need is groin-centered, fairly often dehumanizing and sometimes dangerous. It is a need that promotes quantity over quality, encourages getting off and moving on, and hardly separates us from dogs in heat. Show it to me. I don't need to know your name. You wanna do me? Hurry up. Thanks, buddy. See ya 'round.

Now look back at the first paragraph and read Webster's third definition of anonymous again. Lacking individuality, unique character, or distinction. A pretty good characterization of anonymous sex.