A tour of cruising sites in Leeds
Pat's work for sexual health charity MESMAC has given him an insight into the different cruising sites in Leeds, how they have changed and who uses them. He gives us a tour of the Ridge in Armley, Fleet Lane and Black Hill Lane.
TRANSCRIPTPM: So, the largest one… so there were one, two, three really big ones. What were their names now? Fleet Lane, Black Hill Lane, and… the… the Ridge in Armley, the one that’s kind of, y’know that sort of car park that is on your right as you head up to where that large pet shop is, yeah? It’s there. But that place actually has got a really strange history. […] so there was like um, it’s been a cruising ground for a very, very, very long time. So people would talk about cruising up there in the '80s and stuff, and it’d been the site of quite a bit of violence over the years, but it also was really characteristically gay. Like, there’d always be like strange bits of lacy underwear from the trans women that used the spot. There was a tree which had been like worn smooth from having people bent over it. And there was like lots of warnings and phone numbers and y’know little bitchy messages, either carved into the trees or written onto the railings and stuff, and the place was littered with condoms and used needles and bottles of poppers and empty cans of beer and stuff. But then it really changed. The ‘bumming tree’, as it was [laughs] as it was affectionately called, was unfortunately chopped down, and I think as part of a wider programme of renewal and gentrification the cruising got moved from there. But there are some really like sort of scary stories as well – Phil tells one about that cruising ground: his young, vulnerable mate used to go up there fairly regularly and was murdered up there and hung from a… a suitcase from a tree. Yeah, so it’s got this really strange kind of mix of pleasure and hanging out but also fear. So yeah, it was, it was odd place.
And the other one was Black Hill Lane and that’s a kinda like classier version of a cruising ground. Like, so that one’s like – people drive up there in their Audis, there are people there on their lunchbreak, it’s very like an older set of people, but people with money, y’know people who can get out of town. And then the other really big one was Fleet Lane, with is near Oulton, and that one, again, you had to travel to it, so it sort of changed – you couldn’t get there by bus, which is different to Armley cruising ground, and that changed the demographic. It was a lot of South Leeds people; it was… also quite dingy, there was always empty bottles of poppers, lots of condoms, lots of like, woodland porn and like lacy knickers and stuff like that, so it was quite, it was quite skanky, it’s skankier than Black Hill, but it was still a lot of people driving fairly posh cars. I think they went there because they liked a bit of rough. Yeah [laughs]