Blogpost by Max Maycroft, Sexual Health Outreach Worker

Marc Thompson is an activist, and health promotion specialist, who has been involved in HIV activism since the 1980s, working to address the lack of services available with a focus on Black gay men. He is a co-founder of PrEPster, BLKOUT and co-director of The Love Tank CIC, and through his work with PrEPster, pushed for PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis – a drug that reduces the risk of getting HIV in HIV-negative people) to be made available on the NHS.

Marc has been living with HIV since his diagnosis in 1986 – one year after he came out as gay at age 16 – at a time where the future of those diagnosed with HIV was uncertain and the public were just becoming aware of the epidemic.  This led to him working and volunteering in sexual health – working with Terence Higgins Trust, Big Up, and Positively UK and eventually leading to the founding of PrEPster; which “aims to educate and agitate for PrEP access in England and beyond”. It was identified that there was a distinct lack of awareness and quality information about PrEP, and particularly to minority and intersecting groups including MSM, BAME communities, migrants, the trans community and sex workers.

I feel it’s important to pay tribute to Black, queer people that have made and continue to make a difference in the UK this Black History Month, and there’s no doubt that Marc Thompson’s work has directly contributed to the UK’s approach to HIV prevention; through access to PrEP and education about U=U (Undetectable = Untransmissable). As it stands, Black gay men are still disproportionately affected with regards to HIV, face barriers – yet still underrepresented.

This blog was written by our Sexual Health Outreach Worker, Chris Dunbar.

Sometimes, having sex in the safe confines of your bedroom just doesn’t cut it. You may be looking for somewhere new, seeking thrill or adventure, or just not be able to have the sex you want within your four walls. You may have heard someone talk about cruising, or have been asked if you want to go, but what does it actually mean?

Let’s have a look together at what it means, the laws, and general safety if you do decide to give it a go.



Cruising is walking or driving about certain areas, called cruising grounds, looking for a sexual partner. These meetings are usually one-off, anonymous encounters.

Cottaging is a term used to describe anonymous sex meetings in public toilets.


Where do the terms come from?

Cruising: The word originated as a gay slang term, sometime in the early 1960s, as a way for people who knew its meaning to arrange sexual meetings. It was a way to plan sexual encounters without attracting the attention of people who may wish to report them to the authorities, or inflict harm. The term is used many countries including the UK, the USA, and Australia.

Cottaging: The term cottaging originated in the early 1960s in the UK. It was used to describe public toilet blocks in public areas that resembled small cottages. Like the word cruising, cottaging was a code word for gay men to plan sex meetings without attracting unwanted attention. The term is only used in UK.


What is the difference between cruising and cottaging?

So, although both terms originated around the same time, and they both describe having sex in a public place, there is one major difference between the two.

There is no law specifically against cruising (having sex outdoors), as long as you are ensuring that you are not visible to other members of the public or causing a nuisance. Cottaging, on the other hand, is a different matter, as it is a criminal offence. Having sex in any public toilet or facility is against the law, even if you are doing it in a closed cubicle. Police or security often patrols these areas. If you are caught then you could be banned from the area or even arrested and potentially charged for sexual offences, which will be on your criminal record and would be flagged any time you have DBS check.

So from now on, we will focus on cruising.


Where do people go cruising?

Some of the most popular cruising sites tend to be in large parks, by canals, and in lay-bys. This is because there are often lots of nice, secluded areas that you can disappear into and not be seen by passers-by.


How do I find cruising sites?

Due to the secluded nature of cruising sites, you are not likely to just stumble upon one. So, if you are thinking you might like to give it a try, it is best to look on certain websites, such as Squirt. You will be able to find a full list of areas local to you, with directions of how to get there, safety advice for each particular site, and a message board to see who else may be going at certain times.


How do I do it?

Once you have found an area you would like to visit and arrived there, what do you need to do?  You will often spot other people walking around on their own, maybe looking at their phones, or just slowly looking about. It is unlikely that someone will just walk up to you and announce what they are there for, so it is important to keep a look out for signals, such as eye contact, a nod of the head, or something along those lines. If this happens, it generally means that they are interested and you can approach them.


Personal Safety

Making sure you are safe at all times is of the utmost importance. Due to the types of areas you are visiting, it is very unlikely that there will be CCTV in operation, or even lighting. It is advisable to keep all your personal items, such as mobile phones, wallets, and keys, well hidden on your person at all times, or leave them at home if you can. You may not want to tell people that you are going to meet somebody for sex, but it is advisable to tell someone that you are going out and check back in with them when you are home, so that they know you are safe.


The police and cruising

People can often be worried that if they go cruising, the police will be patrolling. This isn’t the case. The police would only tend to visit cruising grounds if someone has reported an annoyance complaint, or if there had been reports of an attack or offence there. The police DO NOT have the right to stop and search you just for being at a cruising ground, unless they have reason to believe you have or are about to commit a crime.

If you were to be arrested due to being seen having sex in a public place that was not secluded, or you had not made an effort not to be seen, you should always ask to speak to a duty solicitor at the police station before being interviewed or accepting a caution.


What do I do if something happens to me whilst cruising?

As with all public places, some areas are safer than others. It is always best to check notice boards on websites before going to a location, to make sure there have been no recent reports of attacks or crimes. Make sure you are going when you are sober, as if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you are less likely to spot signs of danger. Staying close by where other people are cruising is advisable. If something were to happen, you would be able to shout or attract attention from someone else for help. Consent is still highly important, so knowing what you are ‘up for’, or willing to do, and sticking to that is crucial. If you say no, then it means no, and the same goes for if somebody says no to you – then you must not persist and try anyway.

If something were to happen to you whilst cruising, you must ensure that you report it. If you did not wish to talk to the police directly, then you can access support from a third party reporting service, such as Birmingham LGBT, who can offer you support and submit a report for you.

If you want any further advice on cruising, you can contact Birmingham LGBT on 0121 643 0821, or email

This post is written by Chris Dunbar, our Sexual Health Outreach Worker.

When it comes to activity in the bedroom, no one can tell you what you can and can’t do. Trying new things often makes it more exciting and fun, particularly if you are the adventurous type. The important thing is to make sure you do things safely.

So, lets take the plunge, and explore the less commonly talked about act of fisting.

Right, so where do we begin? Just like with fisting, let’s not just dive straight in. Let’s take some time to prepare. Let’s look at some of the history, facts, and risks associated, then we can lube ourselves up and learn some techniques and tips to give it a go.

What is Fisting?

So, as the name suggests, fisting is a sexual activity in which a hand is inserted into the rectum or vagina. Once the hand is inside, the fingers can be clenched into a fist or kept straight, this is down to personal preference or choice. Although commonly practised with a second person, fisting can be performed solo.

Other names may include: handballing, fist fucking, hoofing, fister, giving a Muppet, or the five-finger butt blast, to give just a few.

The History

Although it is believed by Robert Morgan Lawrence, a sexual educator, that the practice may date back thousands of years, it is very sparsely documented until the twentieth century. In general, fisting was more commonly practised among gay males. In the seventies and eighties, the act became more popular, thanks to the world’s most famous fisting club, Catacombs, located in San Francisco.

Some of the Risks

Fisting is often classed as a more extreme sexual act and therefore, of course, it comes with greater risks.

Risks can include:

Right then, with that out of the way, let’s get prepared to start. Although I would say that we are not quite ready to get elbows deep just yet.

As you can imagine, taking a fist is slightly different to taking a penis. It takes time and preparation to get there.


Things you may need:

Lube: choosing the right lube for the job is important. You want to make the experience as enjoyable as possible. There is a wide selection of lubes available specifically created for fisting, so it is worth the investment to reduce the risk of injury.

Below is a link you may find useful for sourcing the right lube:

Rubber gloves: there is no rule to say that you have to wear gloves, but as fisting explores deeper into the anus than most things have gone before, there is higher risk of faeces finding its way under fingernails or similar.

Gloves will also slightly help protect your insides from been scratched by fingernails.

Douche: although this is optional, giving yourself a clean inside will make the experience a lot more pleasant for all those involved.

Douches are readily available online and in certain shops.

Anal training toys: again, these are not a necessity. Using fingers to start, then slowly increasing the amount of the hand inserted can work just as well. However, exploring with toys and gradually increasing the size can make the run up to fisting an enjoyable experience for you (and your partner).

Toys of many shapes and sizes are readily available online and in certain shops.

Right, we’ve been shopping, cleaned ourselves, had a good play (damn, those three fingers felt so good at the time). So let’s look how we take this fist.


It’s probably not going to work too well if you are standing in an upright position. So, you want to make sure you are as comfortable as possible, nice and relaxed.

Solo fisting: it is best to lie on your side with your knees bent so you are comfortable. You then want to reach around and insert a couple of fingers to start, then gradually increase up until you are ready to take the full hand.

Fisting with a partner: you can either lay face down with your legs apart with your partner sat or knelt next to you, or you could arch up or get on all fours with your legs apart and have your partner kneel behind you.

Make sure you are relaxed.

Hand shape

Despite the name, the hand is rarely in a fist-like position. A clenched fist is very unlikely (unless you are experienced in fisting) to enter with ease.

The hand needs to be in a ‘beak-like’ position, keeping all five fingers (yes, I’m calling your thumb a finger) straight and closely held together. Then slowly insert the hand into the rectum.

There is a practice called ‘punchfisting’. This method, as the name suggests, is the insertion of a clenched fist into the rectum, typically thrusting it in and out. In general, this is reserved for those who have engaged in fisting before (a few times) or are experienced taking larger toys.

All I will say is lube, lube, and more lube!

What’s next?

So, your partner (if you are doing this with one) is sat next to you with their hand looking like a duck’s head (though hopefully not going quack quack) – now let’s get it in.

Make sure you use enough lube, and if it gets dry or starts to pull the skin, apply more! This will help reduce the risk of ripping or damaging the soft tissues. Taking a breath and holding it in while the hand is being inserted can help reduce any initial pain that you may feel. Slowly, the hand can be inserted into the rectum, gently thrusting in.

Make sure that you are going at a pace that you are happy with. If you are too fast, it can cause you to clench up and tighten, which will cause pain and increase the risk of damage.

For this sort of sexual act, it is important that you are with someone you trust. Having a safe word, which can be called out at any time you feel you have to stop, may be a good suggestion. If the safe word is called, the act must stop immediately, as consent is no longer given to carry on.

Everything has gone to plan and the hand is in! Enjoy the ride!


That was an enjoyable, but tiring, experience. Time to clean up and relax. Have a shower to wash away any of the nasties and excess lube, followed by a nice, relaxing bath. This can help to relieve any tension and reduce any soreness.

Things to look out for: some minor pain is to be expected (you’re taking something pretty big up a small hole) – taking things slowly, using plenty of lube, and changing the motion used can help relieve this. Taking deep breaths can help as well.

If the pain is more severe, like sharp shooting pains or throbbing, then gently remove the hand and stop. Give yourself a few days to recover. You can always try again once things have settled down, just remember to slowly work your way up again. If you continue to feel pain, then seek medical advice.

A small amount of blood may be visible initially. This should resolve quickly, and shouldn’t be too much to worry about. But if the bleeding continues for more than a couple of minutes or there is a lot of blood, then stop immediately and seek medical advice.

Keep up to date with your sexual health screening – remember there is a higher risk of HIV and Hepatitis B transmission due to the nature of this practice and increased risk of damaging blood vessels.

Whether fisting is for you or it isn’t, trying new things with (or without) a partner can be healthy for a relationship, or for finding confidence within your own skin.

Well, what a journey we have been through together. I hope you have enjoyed this little walk through the act of fisting.

This post was brought to you by Bethanie Browne, our Trans Sexual Health Outreach Worker.

Right now, the world is in isolation, and life is becoming Groundhog Day – or Russian Doll, for those who are not well-versed in their 80s films, but have now watched everything Netflix has to offer. Most people are struggling with cabin fever – however, we know it is important to highlight the particular difficulties the LGBT community may be facing right now. If you’re at home with family/friends who do not understand or maybe even know your true identity and/or sexual orientation, we want to try and take the edge off this frustrating and stressful time you have unwillingly found yourself in.

A lot of people in the community seek companionship, casual soirees, and outdoor activities to satisfy sexual desires, as well as meet new people who have common interests. So, we have devised some top tips to ease that thirst, safely and without hooking up physically with other people.

How to manage isolation thirst…

  1. Reintroduce yourself to your sex toys (or buy some!) Get them out, get them washed, and get them working. This is a great time to get to know yourself, and the benefits are amazing for future intimacy with sexual partners too. It is always good to know what you like and do not like.

  2. Use your hook-up apps and sites for a bit of light and casual sexting. Many sites and apps are great because you can set up a profile where no one will know your personal contact details or whereabouts. This keeps you safe and your identity hidden if that is a concern.

  3. Old school moves – phone and webcam sex. As always, as long as you’re safe with your personal information and engage in sex with people you trust, go for it! Pop some candles on, maybe some sexy music, and get to know your body with someone on the blower.

  4. PORN! Although this can be a controversial subject at times, we have done a little research, and there is a great site called Four Chambers (link can be found below), where they have stills and cinema clips for free. It is a community-funded site that relies on donations. You can sign up, get full cinema clips, and donate some money – the donations go towards further artistic projects. https://afourchamberedheart

  5. Use our social media platforms to talk to others and get ideas. We are here, supporting the community, but ultimately we’re not the experts and if you have better ideas then please share them on our social media platforms.

So, there you have it. These are our ideas and we hope they can help in some way during this peculiar time. There is nothing wrong with feeling frustrated right now, but it is important to manage our emotions and desires by finding safe alternatives during this outbreak.

Most importantly: stay at home, protect yourself and others, and support our NHS.

Birmingham LGBT’s sexual health outreach workers are still available on the phone, Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 6 pm. Please, call us, and know you’re are not alone in this.

Keep watching our channels where we will be providing more Isolation Information for the LGBT Nation!