So, I’m a big television watcher. Naturally I’ve sunk my teeth into one of my favorite guilty pleasures the CW’s Riverdale which is the real-life version of the Archie comics, but with a very dark twist (I even have another podcast that I co-host). This season started up a few weeks back and lo and behold there is a killer on the loose. But last nights episode exposed something even darker than a masked murderer.
Kevin Keller is the Archie worlds singular gay character, introduced in 2010. In this episode Kevin does something I didn’t even think still happened – cruising.
For those of you who don’t know, cruising is a slang/code word for gay men looking for anonymous gay sex. In many cases, cruising spots were in the thick of woody areas, where gay men knew to congregate via word of mouth so they can do mouth to mouth 😅. It was popularized in the 1970’s and to this day remains an underground aspect of gay culture.
There are two sides to this. On one side, it can be perceived to be for the perverted and kink-loving voyeurs.
The other side is because just like many bi-products of the hetero-normative society, homosexual activity was frowned upon and outlawed. In many cases, cruising was simply the only way gay men could explore their naturally sexual desires.
In its worst moments gay activity became synonymous with the darkness – hiding, lurking, alleyways and closets. But the true reality is, heteronormativity is what pushed homosexuality into that same darkness. The positive of this is it has allowed the gay community to be the leaders in the sexual exploration of male pleasure.
On a wider lens, exploring these aspects in secret allowed us to better understand the connection between intimacy, sex, and fetish without the feeling of societal shame that comes along with some of these activities.
The one thing I will say about watching this on Riverdale, one of the biggest shows on television is, I worry the messaging. Kevin Keller’s extremely shitty defense when confronted by BFF Betty is “this is what I’ve got, these woods. So please don’t come here and tell me it’s disgusting”. In a day and age where gay culture has progressed so far, (the character of Betty even pleads with him to stop and “just use Grindem like every other guy in the world”) there is not a real need for cruising in the woods. Other than the kink aspect of it, putting yourself in a very vulnerable position for all types of harm is just unnecessary. It frustrates me to see it have been used more for a trivial plot device than a real social commentary piece.
Are you a Riverdale fan? What are your thoughts on this? Sound off in the comments below!