Gay dating sites have revolutionised the lives of gay and bi men in the last 13 years. Where sites like facebook have rewritten the way people socialise and make friends, gay sites like Gaydar and Mothership Gay Dating have pioneered a sexual revolution in gay guys.
In the UK, it started properly with Gaydar who in 1999 introduced the first website where you could see live who was online right now. Gaydar enjoyed explosive growth while gay men quickly caught on to the addictive new way of cruising for casual hook-ups.
Later, sites like Fitlads and Mothership brought a social element to online gay dating, and their communities of like-minded guys could hang out and chat online, as well as cruising for sex, and in many cases with the hope of a more serious loving relationship too.
In a relatively short period of time we could cruise, make new friends and even identify prospective boyfriends without leaving our homes.
No more cumbersome personal ads in gay rags, then waiting for days for a large brown envelope containing handwritten letters and blurred polaroid photographs. No more telephone dating lotteries when you hoped the 25 year old 6 foot slim hunk had accurately described himself as you rang his doorbell after travelling for an hour. No more cottaging, hanging around on Clapham Common, or spending hours cruising in smoky, windowless gay bars.
Of course, the traditional ways of meeting other men are very welcome. For younger gay guys though, it may seem like online gay dating has always been there, and the availability and convenience of meeting like-minded guys is taken for granted.
As a social group, gay and bi guys have benefited hugely from the rise and rise of gay dating sites. However, there have been downsides too. It is commonplace to give a younger age (known as the ‘gaydar age’), and some guys post out of date photos which mislead others to their true appearance.
Petty gay chat room and forum disagreements can quickly escalate into embittered angry public exchanges which lose all perspective and are very painful for the participants, as well as being unpleasant reading. Such disagreements are known as ‘flaming’ and would be very unlikely to have developed into such an argument if the men had met in a real social setting.
On a darker note the anonymity of the internet encourages members with ill intent. Internet ‘trolls’ set out to deliberately upset and insult other members in a provocative, nasty and often shocking way. Spammers misrepresent themselves in order to extract money, or entice members onto rival sites.
However, such downsides are eclipsed by the upsides of gay dating sites. Gay men can easily access several unique, high quality sites which each have their own personality - some like Recon, Squirt and Gaydar are more geared towards sex and casual meets. Others focus on finding a more serious loving relationship, and sites like Mothership Gay Dating include a social element as well.
Whichever gay dating sites we choose to use, we can enjoy the convenience of meeting other compatable men for sex, friendship or love that gay guys could only have dreamed of half a century ago.
By David Abrehart
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