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2005-01-20

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Steve Du Bois: On The Facebook and fooling around

BY STEVE DU BOIS
it's because i'm gay
Published January 20, 2005

Last Friday I met this guy for lunch. On Saturday, I met another guy, for dinner. On Sunday, I fooled around with the latter in a campus building. And such a busy weekend isn’t uncommon… thanks to the godsend, the gaysend, The Facebook.

This isn’t to say that The Facebook should be renamed fuck-buddybook. The Facebook serves a much more expansive and beneficial purpose for me and perhaps other homosexuals: To provide a connection to the remotely accessible gay culture and its participants … to anonymously meet and interact with not only potential hook-ups, but also potential friends and dates. And of this utilization of The Facebook, I am proud.

I wonder if this sounds weird to readers, both homosexual and heterosexual. Am I alone in my investment in The Facebook as a legitimate means of correspondence? I think, hope, that in the least, homosexuals see where I’m coming from. Heterosexuals, especially males I’m presuming, similarly use the online venue for potentially promiscuous means. To that end, then, I hope those of all sexual orientations understand and appreciate The Facebook. But beyond that commonality, I’m arguing for a discrepancy in perception of Facebook based on sexual orientation. For heterosexuals, The Facebook might be a secondary social resource … perhaps Jo Hetero tells a Facebook story to a friend — an actual friend — at dinner. However, The Facebook comprises something entirely different to gay culture, and because of this, homosexuals, or at least this homosexual, place a different premium on The Facebook.

Homosexual culture is subverted. That is, it remains relatively dormant to the dominant, implicitly favored, majority heterosexual culture. Facebook, then, provides a means by which homosexuals can meet and develop relationships that otherwise might be uncultivated or nonexistent. Thus, The Facebook holds a different significance to homosexuals, or to any culture that experiences subversion by the invisible hand of society. Personally, I use it because it is a, nay, the convenient, covert way to meet other queers without direct pressures from my housemate to meet his other gay friend (“You’ll get along great!”), or without the awkward hello to the other gay kid in my English class (“So … do you like butt sex, too?).

Such online means of meeting and getting to know others is (generally) not viewed as sketchy in the homosexual world, but it may be stigmatized in the heterosexual one. Maybe those that criticize meeting people online, with whatever intentions, can’t comprehend the timidity with which minorities have to approach social situations, i.e. when I refrain from hitting on a cute guy because I can’t tell if he’s straight or gay. Sometimes it’s complicated, folks; it really is. And The Facebook attempts to remedy such awkwardness by providing infinite potential of communicative resources. I mean, I’d be a fool not to poke that hot guy!

If social scenes were different … if I didn’t have to go to the gay bar (read: Aut Bar), or the straight bar on gay night (read: Necto) … if I didn’t live in a culture that facilitates heterosexual relationships more than homosexual, or one that emphasizes the separation of demographics based on sexuality (why isn’t there a straight/gay night at Necto?), then I probably wouldn’t need an entity like The Facebook to meet other gay guys. I certainly would still use it, as it connects me to high school friends, fellow University flip-cuppers, and that cute guy from Washington University, but I’d have a completely different perspective on it.

In reality, I must rely on Necto, et al. to meet others of a similar sexual nature, and even attending such venues can be fruitless (not literally, obviously). Queers can be fake, superficial, horny. And that’s great. But oftentimes, such homosexually concentrated domains can be overwhelming and surprisingly, understimulating. I might seek out another means of communication — a less public domain, an environment where I can be comfortable and free of a contrived and pressured gay climate. Enter The Facebook.

Maybe I’ll find a simple hook-up. Perhaps I’ll get lucky and find a date. Maybe a closeted homosexual will find me and I’ll introduce him to the beautiful, gay world. Or perhaps my future life partner is that cute guy in the OSU Smells group. Regardless of intent or outcome, such utilization of The Facebook is not only justified but also undeserving of criticism from within and outside the homosexual community.

Gay.com, chat rooms, The Facebook — these are the means of communication for minority and majority demographics alike. But for the homosexual demographic, perhaps The Facebook has emerged as our generation’s anonymous socializing mechanism. And it’s weird — I haven’t heard any homosexuals criticizing heterosexuals’ use of The Facebook; yet, I’ve certainly heard heterosexuals stigmatize and bastardize my savior, The Facebook.

I’m not asking for sympathy, for a tissue. Save it. I just don’t like the smart-ass looks that follow the phrase “I met him online.” It’s not as easy as you think to meet significant, substantial queers. And oftentimes it’s not even that easy to meet a dull, cute one to hook up with.

It’s a tough, straight world out there, but some homo’s got to do it.

 

Steve didn’t want to write a Facebook column, but felt it had to be done. If you agree, disagree or are ambivalent to his sentiments, e-mail him at duboiss@umich.edu. Better yet, just Facebook him!


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