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The politics of gay dating websites

Annual Conference of the American Anthropology Association

ABSTRACT

What are the politics of global gay male dating websites? While there websites seem to be primarily a way for men to connect for sex, romance, friendship, or simply chatting, they are in fact facilitating transformative connections between distinct locals and queer cultural forms and identities. These are not neutral spaces for social connections, but create new social forms in the mixing between global and local contexts.

 Emanating mostly from Europe and North America, these websites are part of global political-legal mechanisms that regulate queer discourse and collective representations based on certain notions of western-queer politic meshed with geo-political configurations of power, also know as the gay international. The issues then is to understand the implications of these politics on the utility of these websites as anthropological tools for understanding the generation of the new social forms. This paper considers this by looking at the relationship between these politico-legal mechanisms, a western queer politic, language, sexual meanings and identity within the sites, as well as questioning their philanthropic championing of queer causes around the world.

The analysis contributes to the critigue of the gay international as well as the growing literature that considers ethnographic implications of cyberspace as a site of research. The goal is to judge the limitation of the website for understanding how new realities and identities are formed in the intermingling of cyberspace and physical worlds.