Cyber stomping grounds

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In the years to come, not consulting an Internet dating service will be akin to driving around your neighborhood looking for a car to buy when you can simply get online to find one. With the ablility to interview multiple potential-soul mates simultaneously with private instant messages, one can hardly deny the efficiency of online dating.

But social networking in online gay communities also provides many other benefits. It can bridge the gap of geographic distance between GLBT people. It can open doors to expression from gays and lesbians in isolated areas and provide them with the only GLBT community they have access to. It allows GLBT youth to discover themselves early in life and attain the knowledge to become healthy, happy adults who know they are not alone.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project has the most recent research on online dating, presented in a 2006 study titled, "Online Dating." According to the study, among the group of 10 million internet users who said they were single and looking for romantic partners, 74% had used the internet in one way or another to further their romantic interests.

At any given moment, there could be from 20,000 to upwards of 40,000 chatters on gay dating Web sites. In Tennessee, there are hundreds of members on Gay.com, and at the site’s busiest time, one can find the Nashville room buzzing with instant messages from more than 200 gay male chatters.

Flippedthescript is the screenname for a 24-year-old Nashville member of gay.com who found his current boyrfriend online.  He said meeting men online can be problematic.

"Some guys present themselves online as ‘great catches’ and then you meet up and you realize all they want is a fun night, free drinks, arm candy or a random f***; but, i actually reconnected with my boyfriend online," Flippedthescript said.

ZainAzyar, the screenname for a 27-year-old Murfreesboro member of gay.com said he has had good experiences with online dating. 

"I have had a few distance relationships in the past," he said. "They worked fine for me for a while, but its not really a good choice unless you are going to be living close together in my opinion. Some men do well looking for boyfriends online, others really need to look offline."

There are more than 1,800 personal ads for gays and lesbians in the state of Tennessee on Yahoo! Personals. The site touts itself as the most visited online dating site. There are also about 500 gay men’s personal ads in the state of Tennessee on Manhunt.net. Craig’s List has also become a popular hunting ground as has Adam4Adam. For those looking for a particular type of relationship they can visit such sites as SilverDaddies, DaddyHunt and Bear411.

"I think things like yahoo personals and chemistry.com are like writing a resume," Flippedthescript said. "We pad the good things, gloss over the negatives, but they can give basic information most people would like to know. But, in our culture we don’t have many choices for finding mates. It’s either the bar where everyone is drunk, or online where there isn’t any physical interaction. At least the computer screen can hide and diminish initial akwardness."

Each site can be accessed for free, but there are limitations on what one can do without a paid membership.

Limited memberships are always free on Manhunt.net. With a limited membership, you can cruise guys, send and receive about ten emails in a 24-hour period, and post a profile and photos. A full access membership on Manhunt.net costs $12 for 30 days and $7 for seven days.

Interested gays and lesbians can create free profiles on Yahoo! Personals. With a free profile, you can make your profile at Yahoo! Personals searchable or share it only with the people you choose. Free Yahoo! Personals allows you to post up to five photos for even more responses, and your own Personals Mailbox keeps track of all the messages you send and receive. To subscribe to Yahoo! Personals, the cost is $29.99 per month, or $19.99 per month for three months, or $15.99 per month for six months.

Free members on Gay.com can build a profile, search millions of profiles, get basic email access, joing group chat, and send private instant messages. Premium members on Gay.com can do all of that and see adult and private photos, view full size photos, get unlimited email privileges, turn off ads in group chat and instant messager, get enhanced group chat access, see who thinks "you’re hot," see who’s viewed your profile, block a member, and get live help. One month of a premium membership on Gay.com is $19.95, three months is $42.95, and one year is $89.95.


Queer Code

GOS- gay or straight; SWM – single white male; SWF  – single white female; vgl – very good looking; ddf – drug and disease free; pnp – party and play, or uses drugs while having sex; bb- bareback, or has sex without condoms; NSA – no strings attached.