The Ramble is an interesting place. It’s the closest we have to walk in the woods here in the city. It’s an urban forest of history and contradictions. Walking through the Ramble in Central Park is something I love. Going through there and taking photographs of the rocks and trees and the birds, sitting by the lake and reading. Turtles swim, robins (and a few hundred other species of birds) go bobbin’ along, birdwatchers stare at the birds, dogs run, yuppies jog, and tourists get lost. And? The Gays have sex. The day before it would’ve been ‘had’ sex, but this walk was a reminder that some things never change.
Now, gays are reading this assuming that if you're in the Ramble, you're cruising. Let anyone reading this think what they want. Sure, if Zack Galifianakis were standing there rubbing his crotch, cruise mode would be activated faster than a heartbeat. He wasn't there though, and cruising wasn't the purpose of my visit. Some guys do go to the park because, well, it's a park. That being said, if it makes it more interesting to think I was on the prowl, go for it.
A guy at a cocktail party a while back, a Columbia grad student, was doing his dissertation on the history of the Ramble. Turns out the Ramble, since its creation has been a haven for bird watchers, a playground for gay men, and a battleground for social reformers. The gays that use this part of the park for their forays owe a great deal of gratitude to the birdwatchers.
Repeated efforts since the early days of the Ramble to fence off the area, creating ‘a preserve,’ always had nothing to do preservation. It was all about prevention. The political clout of the birdwatchers has squelched such efforts every time. The Birders’ desire for access to the Ramble and its birds results in the access also existing for those with more prurient desires.
Walking through the Ramble one can’t help but notice with a look to the left; the eccentric-looking, grey haired, bespectacled old guys and gals weighted down with their enormous, expensive binoculars and cameras, enrapt upward at something chirping in the branches, and then to the left; two men sliding behind a bush hoping to get into each others’ britches. The two in the bush never stop to say thanks to the Birders, but they should.