5 Reasons Why Expat Gays Are More Internet Savvy
I had a discussion recently with a gay friend who had a blog a few years ago he’s touted as “the biggest gay blog in the UK.” He may tend to exaggerate, but it could be true. It was at the time when social media was in it’s infancy and susceptable to innovative minds. He scoffed at my seeming lack of popularity and followers after lo these past 4 months. Yes, expats is a hot topic, but so is cooking, or mothers who breastfeed (especially with the recent media fuss). But for some reason when a topic is gaycentric (just looked it up and pretty sure I’ve just coined that term) a bright neon rainbow must rise above it like the Bat Signal over Gotham.
There are a myriad of reasons for the plethora of gays on the internet, and I’m sure numerous studies have been conducted over the decades. I may tend to get a bit snarky as I continue, due to lots of unrelated issues (change of seasons, pending birthday, 6 month dry spell) but admittedly also that I can’t play the gay card. And that’s not a snark: at most times of my adult life I’ve had probably more gay than straight friends. I don’t really like the term fag hag, but basically since I met my first gay, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and mostly preferred gay company and am an avid, if not overly vocal, proponent of gay rights.
When I googled “gays on the internet” it brought up more sites than I bothered to count. One of the first was a consumer market survey from 2007 stating more or less what we would now consider the obvious – issues of socialization, networking, and of course sex. I’m going to run down my top 5 reasons, in my humble fruit fly opinion, as to why expat gays in particular are more savvy, nay more prolific, than straights on the internet:
1) SEX. I’d even say this is a stereotype. But in my experience, talking to my friends – and oh how some of them will dish out the details! – it’s the Number One reason to get gay online. Case in point – Grindr. Launched in 2009, it recently hit 4 million users in 194 countries according to their website. It’s a GPS-based system that helps a guy locate other guys registered with the free app in their general vicinity defined by mere meters. And yes it’s for guys only. But it speaks to the tendancy of gay guys to be more apt overall to have casual or even one-nighter sex than women, lesbian or straight. There was a gay bath house in my US home city that, acquiescing to a lesbian community complaint, opened one night per week only for women. It lasted a month. Men are just more likely to have non-emotionally-attached sex. They also don’t need foreplay as much. I think the women-only bath house night even had a reading room. Stereotypic as it may sound, gay male sex has bolstered the success of many bars, clubs, and smart phone apps.
2) Community. The internet provides links to all kinds of communities one can be a part of. Knitting groups or hackey-sack enthusiasts can be found online as well as on cafe bulletin boards or posted on general expat forums. But an expat gay alighting in a new country isn’t as catagorized. He may knit or play hackey-sack, but he’s looking for other gays to socialize with. I like to say I speak gay fluently. That’s what a gay expat is looking for, a like-minded community in his new environs.
3) Anonymity. I’m dismayed to hear of communities across the globe that still do not suffer the gays. Yes I’m making a Biblical analogy because so many times gays are tormented or ostracized by religious fanatics. Being raised in a religious family, it breaks my heart to see things so misconstrued. The fact that these bigotries exist over 40 years after Stonewall still astounds me. So, even from the heartland of the US, an expat gay may rightfully be wary of how to safely seek out the local gay community. The internet allows anonymity. Sometimes this can be used to the detriment of honest communication when someone posts inaccurate personal details or photos. But that happens with most dating sites, gay or straight.
4) Easier than the Real World. The age of internet has opened up paths of connection where people who may become fast friends may never meet each other. (I worked a short stint at Expedia once where, though we had glass walled offices, employees would email or online chat with someone just across the hall. I startled people in the kitchen when I actually tried to speak to them.) For every social butterfly, there’s a cloister of cocooned social inepts who prefer to stay sequestered safely at home but online for hours, sometimes up most of the night, chatting or …other things. Expat gays may experience language or culture barriers, depending on the country for sure. While it may be easier to stay online, ultimately I don’t think it’s the healthier option. Get outside, walk around the block, you never know.
5) It’s Fast and Readily-Accepted. I have a gay friend who’s relocating to a vastly different country from where he’s currently been living as an expat. He’s been doing good research online but hasn’t found much about the indigenous gay community besides some pictures of locally renowned drag queens (oh how they love their publicity!). I asked him if he’d found an email link or facebook page for any of the divas, just to contact, flatter a bit of course, and let them know you’re coming to town. He did this on a trip to NYC and garnered personal backstage visits and photo ops. He said no, he was too shy for that kind of communication but that he’d be sure to check Grindr as soon as he got there. Done and dusted. You go, my brave, intrepid, handsome, charming friend! I’m sure he’ll land with a big splash.