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Gay Social Websites – Hurtful or helpful?

The GLBT community has a lot of concerns on their minds at all times. We worry about finding others like us. We worry about finding supportive people who know what we have been through, are going through, and will go through and are able to provide insight and support throughout the many stages of “gay” life. We worry about love and if we will find “the” one or any one for that matter. We concern ourselves with finding friends. We worry about finding jobs. We worry about all these things just like the “hetero” community, however, the challenge at hand is how do we as a community handle and work through these concerns.

Some of us will turn to social groups or community centers. While others of us, who have little to no access to these social groups or community centers, must find another alternative to reaching out and connecting with others just like us. For those who either do not use social groups or community centers or those who do not have access to these outlets, one of the major alternatives to social connection and even love connections are gay social websites, in addition to, regular social websites.

There are many out there to choose from. There are sites for all genres, fetishes, wishes, hopes, and needs. Many people use the two “major” social networking sites, Facebook.com and Myspace.com. These two sites provide a myriad of options and opportunities to socialize and connect to members of your community. Whether you are gay, straight, bisexual, polyamorous, transgender, or “normal” (whatever that’s supposed to mean), there are opportunities to connect on these two sites. Myspace.com also offers the ability to connect to entertainers in the community as well.

Besides the “big two” there are sites like gay.com, chemistry.com, eharmony.com, planetout.com, dlist.com and others to name a few. These sites offer to opportunity to connect on an “adult” level in addition to a “friendly” level. Some of them are not so “gay friendly” as others, with it all depending on some arcane system that will just reject you for no reason.

While it can be argued that these sites allow us to reach out and connect with someone and are helpful, some argue that they are also hurtful. This argument is made due to the fact that these sites can play into the sociological stereotypes of the gay community such as we are interested in only casual sexual encounters, we pray on others, we are only sexually oriented and concerned with only sex, we are non-monogamous, and we take risks the “hetero” community would never take. While these stereotypes are false, there is still the underlying image problems that some of these sites can and are raising. However wrong, it is something we as a community must contend with.

While I am not advocating not using these sites, in fact I am all in favor of using any tool possible to connect with people, especially with people in the “gay” community and those who are friendly, we must be aware of the possibilities of the wrong image being seen. Ultimately, are these social websites a helpful or hurtful tool needs to be left up to the user, and the rest of the world needs to worry about what they are doing and not what their neighbor is.

Jase ;0)

Jason P. Ruel
Gay Lesbian Editor

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