I’ve been thinking a lot in this project about the possibilities but also frustrations afforded by online cruising sites/ apps and how they are figuring in the ways gay men are presently organising their sexual and emotional lives. They can function as a great and effective way of hooking up with people (often not as effective as people would like!) but there is an abiding anger, sense of resentment and frustration about what they make us do, and what they don’t do, and how people behave when using this medium. All this even while many people understand the desire for casual or no-strings sex, and use these sites happily for these purposes themselves … often in the ways they complain about in relation to the conduct of prospective partners!
I managed to dig up this old interview from an event back in 2010 hosted by SIDACTION in Paris where David Halperin, Barry Adam and a much earlier version of myself were interviewed in connection with a conference on homosexuality, social science and HIV. Barry’s comments at the end of the interview have stuck with me ever since and I have been thinking about them more and more. He raises the problem of how participants try to negotiate needs for connection and intimacy so evocatively:
“We often live in gay worlds which are quite efficient sex delivery systems but men then have to focus a great many of their emotional needs into this one avenue and that itself creates new risk situations which are again often inadvertent but that we are called upon to manage one way or another”
I love this way of formulating the problem: how to negotiate satisfying intimate lives in the context of hyper-efficient sex delivery systems? It’s an ongoing and active question …