Public sexual cultures: a systematic review of qualitative research investigating men's sexual behaviors with men in public spaces

Jamie S. Frankis, Paul Flowers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)


Resurgent HIV and sexually transmitted infection incidence among men who have sex with men (MSM) requires an urgent re-examination of sexual transmission sites. To these ends, we systematically review qualitative literature concerning men's sexual behaviors within public sex environments (PSEs). Sex, therein, is negotiated by the highly codified, largely nonverbal practice of cruising. A generic, shared PSE sexual culture emerges from the literatureacross locations, countries, and decadesbecause of the importance of concealment and common structural constraints on sexual encounters in PSEs. However, differences in local geography and facilities may transform key features of this, resulting in specific, local sexual cultures emerging for each locale. We argue that, although sexual cultures developed to minimize nonsexual cruising risks, they may be exploited to improve contemporary in situ outreach work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)861-893
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Homosexuality
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2009


  • cruising
  • gay men
  • outreach work
  • public sex environments
  • sexual behavior
  • sexual cultures
  • sexual health

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