Date of Degree


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name



Liberal Studies


David Gerstner

Subject Categories

Film and Media Studies | Film Production | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies


Cruising, Public Sex, New York City, Gay, Queer


Cruising is a practice that connects people looking for casual sex through a series of gestures, behaviors and codes that signal one’s sexual orientation and interest. These cruising behaviors and codes are changing because of advances in technology, because of cruising’s sudden exposure to the wider community through media, and evolving cultural values that no longer demand gay sex be kept secret. Cruising is in the public consciousness like never before. This project, a short film entitled Secret and Divine Signs: A Cinematic Ode to the Art of Cruising, investigates, records and pays homage to the cultural practices of cruising, in order to explore its capacity to offer connection, and the radical potentiality of outsider and divergent communities.

Cruising activity is often misunderstood and feared by the mainstream population as a deviant and inherently dangerous practice. Cruising is equated with sexual assault, or at least framed as an assault to family values. This film aims to reframe perceptions of cruising, calling for acceptance and celebration of the practice. Cruising cultures may offer an experience of connection and sensual exploration, an affirmation of natural human sexuality, and a catalyst for a shift from the prurient values of the current age. The social value of cruising, the assessment of public space for erotic potential should be considered without deference to puritanical cultural values.

Secret and Divine Signs: A Cinematic Ode to the Art of Cruising is an experimental documentary art film that attempts to record past and present cruising culture using audio interviews, filmed footage of New York City’s cruising sites, archival footage, appropriated imagery from Hollywood films, vintage pornography, graphic text, and an original music soundtrack. The film aspires to be an artistic and philosophical inquiry into the culture and practice of cruising. The film supports the radical prospect of queer culture building by working against the heteronormalization of society. Encouraging the acceptance of the cruising’s alternative intimacies might expand possibilities for inclusion of people who struggle with culturally constructed constraints. At the very least, the culture of cruising and the histories of its sites are worthy of documentation in order to examine society’s current biases and reveal future potentialities. This short film celebrates cruising’s past, looks to its future and hopes to encourage a less repressive, diverse and affirming society.

Secret and Divine Signs (1271515 kB)
Short Film