united states of tara

The One Where Marshall Goes Cruising in the Park

[flv:http://queerty-prodweb.s3.amazonaws.com/wp/docs/2010/05/taracruising2.mp4 http://queerty-prodweb.s3.amazonaws.com/wp/docs/2010/05/marsh8889.jpg 650 400]

It would be easy to say last night’s United States of Tara was just about Marshall looking for sex in a public park. (Possible spoilers ahead.)

It was more than that, even if you can’t relate to being 16 and hunting for sex during the daylight hours. It was about a young person, having just come out to his family in the most unremarkable of ways, trying to figure out how, exactly, to be A Gay. Like parenting, there is no rule book (though there is a whole section at Barnes & Noble).

How many more merit badges do I have to earn until I’m gay enough?

Marshall, played by the excellent Keir Gilchrist, is learning the tricks of the trade from his flamer friend Lionel — played by the surprisingly not-forgettable Michael J. Willett — who takes pity on his new friend, but also sees him as a project; somebody to mold in his own likeness. They’ve already had the “How Gay Am I?” conversation. Now it’s time to play the “What Type of Gay Sexual Person Am I?” game.

As anyone’s first park cruising stunt can be, Marshall’s run is uncomfortable, but not preternaturally so. It’s awkward not because they’re in a public park (ok, maybe a little bit), but because doing new sexual things is always a bit awkward.

Some of the best lines come from Marshall’s gay neighbor who spots him trying to get “introduced to some cock”: “Cruising’s what we all did. I was so full of shame and anger. My therapist called it ‘shanger.’ … Wouldn’t you rather fall in love, Marshall? Would you rather be 16 and in love? I marched on Washington and shopped on Christopher Street so you’d have the choice to do that instead of going to that park and getting off servicing strangers.”

And yet, every gay has to find his own way.

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  • Taylor Siluw√©

    Awwh, I just let my HBO and Showtime go (times are tough for us starving artists). I’d also just recently fell in love with this show.

    Marshall is the best. He reminds me of myself as that quirky little gay boy (minus all the gadgets and info at your fingertips) in the early eighties, though my debut park experience went off without a hitch. I guess with limited hook-up options then, we were better skilled at the up-against-a-tree sex in broad daylight thing.


    For me, rebelling from religious oppression at the time, it all came quite naturally.

  • Geoff M

    Marshall’s neighbor has a valid point. Although we have come a long way, the fact is we are still ‘young’ as a demographic and we don’t have the same mentoring in place like heteros do for coming of age fagglings……so they’re left to their own devices. Sad really.

  • Chris

    I know it’s just a series but I’m really really angry some adult guy would hook up with a 16 year old. Anonymous sex doesn’t leave you satisfied but feeling like thrown-away trash, and that’s horrible for a teenager.

  • VaJeena

    I completely agree with Chris. It’s a temporary high, but after the act is over you feel dirty, violated. It’s a shame that the majority of these people are closeted “straight” guys. It just goes to show what a terrible impact homophobia has on our society.

  • Taylor Siluw√©

    Ok, grown man hooking up with a teen is WAY wrong. Yet it happens every single day of the week. It’s happening right now, somewhere.

    Cannibalistic serial killers are WAY wrong, too. Funny no one ever feels the need to point that out about Hannibal Lecter.

    In the real world people do all sorts of things that are WAY wrong. And thank God they do, for what a boring world it would be if everyone was perfect and only put their dicks in pre-approved receptacles on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

    However, Geoff M makes a good point. Our community is not very old, and too many of us more mature men who should be mentoring todays “coming of age fagglings” [awesome line, gotta steal that] are too busy wining and dining and fucking them.

    So, we’re back to that real world versus perfect one scenario again. Which one are we in?

  • Charlie Jackpot

    But that guy who wanted to introduce his cock was hot – very rarely do you meet hot guys while cruising – but that park seemed to be full of them

  • Yuki

    I’ve not seen this show, but based on the clips from here, I really like it. It battles the stereotypes, which I really respect… it makes me think of a friend I have on Facebook who insists he has to “teach” his friends to be gay, which I think is ridiculous.

    So yeah. Boooo stereotypes. Whoooo good television!


    “…the majority of these people are closeted “straight” guys. It just goes to show what a terrible impact homophobia has on our society.”

    Certainly accounts for the high rates of infection disseminating populations in the most homophobic territories in the world…Africa and Latin America to name some.

  • JohnnyTrue

    I love this show and I love Marshall’s uncomfortable honesty. What I thought was also really good is that the older gay neighbor – who if one remembers was really angry at Marshall because of his boyfriend leaving – showed that he did care about Marshall by taking him out of there and of course his lecture about being gay.

    Don’t think that everything he said was necessarily correct – but to not avoid the uncomfortable conversation about teenage sex – I don’t think that we can condemn Marshall or his out contemporary for going to the park. They’re out teenage gay boys – it’s almost ‘natural’ for them to go there. For those over 18 that have sex with them – I’ll let other sort out the complexity of figuring out who is over and under 18 at a public park (I agree though that Marsh looks convincingly way young)or the morality of such a thing.

  • Henry Holland

    Anonymous sex doesn’t leave you satisfied but feeling like thrown-away trash

    It’s a temporary high, but after the act is over you feel dirty, violated.

    Well, you two are either a) puritans who have never had anonymous sex or b) you did it wrong. Which is it?

    Back when I was still cruising, I loved anonymous sex for those times that I just wanted a cock in my mouth and I didn’t want to spend the time and money at dinner/a coffeehouse pretending that I gave a fuck about his job or parents or anything else we would make small talk about before –wait for it– going off and having sex. Just whip it out, let me get busy, spunk on my chest, then move on. That’s why I loved sex clubs like The Zone here in Los Angeles.

    The idea that ALL sex has to be this spiritual bonding of two soul mates is pathetic.


    Someday I betcha threre are going to invent something where you can arrange hookups from your own bedroom, and not have to cruise public areas for sex……………… :-p

  • shae

    is this in season two…..i havent seen this show but im thinking about ordering showtime for it lol does marsh turn straight or what?

  • cantstandthisbs

    this shit is placed here to make us look bad. not suprised the broad who made jennifer’s body mades this show, sickening. i have never sexed in public they are looking to make us fags like freaks.

  • JohnnyTrue

    Cantstandthisbs – I couldn’t disagree with you more. This show is entertaining, well-written, and supportive without being preachy. The show reflects all kinds of people not being exactly ‘model citizens’ and in no way is that supposed to reflect on that character’s specific subgroup.

    Whether you had public sex or not – you can’t deny that they exist and that most folks – straight and gay – and those that live near them – know that they exist. It’s not a hidden secret – despite all the bushes.

    This segment was a funny yet ‘teachable’ moment about coming out.

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