· By Herb Lester

Cruisin’, London

An excerpt from Filthy London.

For centuries the capital’s gay community was forced to hide in the shadows. In the 18th century the south side of Finsbury Square was known as Sodomite’s Walk and parts of Covent Garden and Holborn were notorious cruising grounds, frequented too by blackmailers. Today London’s most famous gay cruising ground stretches across the west side of Hampstead Heath. By its nature a secretive pastime, George Michael was one outspoken fan of cruising on the Heath: ‘The handful of times a year it’s bloody warm enough, I’ll do it… It’s a much nicer place to get some quick and honest sex than standing in a bar.’

Hampstead Heath, NW3