Gay in a social networking world

Those of you who say, “There are plenty of fish in the sea” have never been a gay fish. Gay fish are rare, they are colorful and come in all shapes and sizes and, well, struggle to find someone to share their life with.

I consider myself a gay fish. I have come to terms with my sexuality. But just as many gay men, years that I kept my sexuality a secret have affected my ability to find a boyfriend. This is a major reason why many gay men resort to searching for their other half online.

I was 18 years old when I started exploring my sexuality through searching for—gay people.

It’s very common for young men and boys to explore their sexuality through chat rooms and Craigslist. These sites make it easy for those who want to keep their identity a secret, but want to meet people like themselves.

As I embarked on this journey to experience online dating I turned to Google—my number one search engine and Googled “gay online dating.” was the top hit and one of the most popular online dating services. The process of creating a profile is very lengthy and thorough.

After creating an account I found that no one my age was actually using the dating service. Where are all the young gay people? I don’t see them walking on the street. And I can’t find them on a website meant to help members find other gay men.

Professor Tamyra Pierce, who has researched social networks for more than five years said, “The younger crowd are not using the dating services like That is usually reserved for the older folk. The younger generations are meeting people through the social networking sites.”

Facebook has always had ads that I dismissed, but as I continued my search for a future boyfriend. I noticed that many ads on my home page are for online dating.

Zoosk is a free dating service that helps users browse through other gay members in hopes of finding love. However, like there is not that much going on: plenty of pictures and profiles, but no interaction between members.

I sat in front of the computer wondering, what am I doing wrong? Why couldn’t I find the “one” online? So many people, gay and straight, find success stories and I can’t even find a date.

So, I went back to the drawing board. I visited the website that started it all—Craigslist. I posted an ad for a “strictly platonic” workout partner. He became my boyfriend. The relationship didn’t last long. But it was as true as any other relationship.

I received many replies to that ad. It seemed that the guys who did respond were only looking for sex. However, that was not what I was looking for. Although, I did have one good reply, a Fresno State student said I might have better luck finding a date on a website called also known as A4A.

This was what I was looking for. After creating a profile and adding some pictures I received messages almost instantly. Messages from guys who actually wanted to chat, not only have sex.

While the site’s ads are very explicit, many of the members post revealing pictures in their profile. It was a good way to meet guys despite some criticism from members of the gay community.

Martin, a 38-year-old gay male and father of two from Fresno said, “Everyone has this thing that you are not going to meet anyone at the club or online, but my thing is, where are you going to meet them then? They are not just walking around.”

Creating the A4A profile is very simple, you fill out your stats, such as height, weight, ethnicity and then write an “about me” section under 140 characters and you are done. Fresno, one of the most conservative cities in California, has an average of 240 people on A4A on any given night. Some guys are looking for a hookup while others are looking for “the one.” But overall, A4A is one of the most popular websites for gay men to meet other gay men.

Men have finally found a place where they can meet others like themselves and explore their sexuality. From talking to many of the members from the site, I found out that many of them are not 100 percent “out” or not “out” at all.

Older members explained that when they were young they explored their curiosity about their sexuality by using AOL chat rooms, and that A4A has made it a little easier meeting guys in their hometowns. Under aged members should not be using the site, due to its graphic nature, but lie in order to have a profile because they have nowhere else to go.

A gay Fresno State senior who does not want to be identified said he joined gay social networks because “it is not easy being gay, especially not in our society, even here in Fresno. This is a way to safely meet other people.”

Online networks such as these have helped show gay young men that they’re not alone.

Many have taken notice of the way the gay community uses online networks and have taken advantage of this. Grindr has created a gay social network for the iPhone and Blackberry cell phones that helps the gay community in their search for whatever they are looking for.

The Grindr app allows members to view profiles of other members nearest to their location using GPS locating services.

The world is a big sea and it is hard for a gay fish to find their other half, but online and cell phone social networks are making it easier for gay fish to continue their search.

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