I just finished my paper in case y'all are interested in reading it:
The Effects of Modern-Day Hook-Up Culture on Homosexual Men
Homosexual men throughout history have had to navigate the cultures and societies that they reside in unique ways in to find potential partners or have sexual encounters. This paper will discuss and analyse gay specific ‘hook up culture’, the technological innovations that contribute to this ‘hook up culture’ and the ultimate effect, whether positive or negative, it has on the male homosexual community.
Gay men have had to operate underground to hide from persecution within their own societies, whether it be social alienation and rejection or punishment through state laws. (Gremore, 2014) This history of oppression combined with the existence of being an invisible minority helped to create a distinct culture within the various communities of gay men. Furthermore, with the advent of the gay rights movement in the 1960s and more recent developments of technologies that allow men to connect directly, the cultivation of a unique ‘hook-up’ culture. (Turban, 2018) Though tolerance of homosexuals has increased in many countries worldwide, the culture that existed for hundreds of years prior still exists and impacts how gay men interact with themselves and each other.In the past, gay men had complex ways of identifying each other. These various ways would be to hangout in specific areas in hopes of making contact with someone (sometimes referred to as cruising), wearing specific clothing, and/or using other types of code to communicate that they were indeed homosexual. (Gremore, 2014.) Now with the invent of these GPS based dating apps, gay men now have a method for low-risk connection other gay male individuals. One can personalize their profile in such a way to hide their identity, providing full anonymity to the user, which is especially impactful and important in areas that are still intolerant of homosexuals. Though important in facilitating connections between men, these necessary features can also have negative side effects. With increased anonymity comes lowered accountability to those users. This lowered accountability can allow these users to act in ways that they may not do so in person. These various behaviours include rampant hyper-sexualization and unsolicited sexually explicit photos, racism, fat-shaming, femmephobic behaviours, cultivation of hyper masculine physiques and identities, and the ultimate dehumanization of other users. Though these apps are not the source of these behaviours, they highlight the pressures that a heteronormative, looks-focused, misogynistic and white-centric society gay men exist inside and the ultimate affect said pressures have on them. (Chan 2018, 2567)
Homosexuals within the past millennia have gone from being one of the most persecuted minorities, to also being the most rapidly accepted movements in recent years within ‘Western Society’. Only little over five decades ago was homosexuality criminalized in Canada. (Hooper, 2018) From 1968-2005, homosexual relationships went from being criminal acts to being legally recognized unions (marriages) by both Canadian law and society. (Eichler 2016) Though both wide societal and legal acceptance towards homosexual relationships and culture has become mainstream, the unfortunate effects of oppression, persecution, and invalidation of the homosexual way of life has altered the ways in which homosexuals, especially gay men, interact with each other. (Gremore 2014) Due to homosexuality being seen as a social taboo for the majority of the past millennia, homosexual men and women were driven underground, forced to seek out sexual encounters in secret. This secrecy made it difficult to obtain anything more than a brief sexual encounter. Furthermore, the heteronormative pressures experienced by homosexuals frequently resulted in them ending up married with children. This often lead to those leading double lives, seeking out same-*** encounters in secret. (Reynolds 2014, 219) With these societal pressures being placed on these men, the kinds of relationships they were able to experience was limited, placing emphasis on hook-ups and creating an environment that promotes the hyper-promiscuity that can still be observed today.
Though tolerance has grown, cruising culture is still identifiable in modern gay interactions; though often replaced with mobile dating applications. Furthermore, though same-*** relationships have gained more acceptance in some societies, homophobia still exists and still places undue stress on the types of relationships homosexual men can seek-out with each other. There are still over 70 countries that criminalize same-*** relationships, with 9 even offering the death penalty for such offenses. (United Nations, 2017) With such a large portion of the world still having homophobia instilled both legally and culturally within their societies, the anonymity and convenience of mobile dating apps offers safety to those who wish to seek out same-*** relations. These apps allow men to communicate with each other, without having to congregate in secret as was done so in the past through bathhouses and underground gay bars. (Gremore, 2014) This reduces the probability of them being caught, jailed, and possibly even killed by authorities; making mobile dating apps essential for those in high-risk situations. In Western Societies, these technological innovations also allow for men to explore their sexuality discretely, without having to openly identify as homosexual. (Reynolds 2014, 219)
Dating applications are necessary for the conditions of meeting discretely in potentially high-risk situations and allow men to explore their identities without having to identify as gay. Though, unfortunately, data has shown that these dating apps often have a negative affect on those who use them frequently. (Chan, 2568) There are multitude of reasons why this is the case. One of which is over-abundance. With location based dating apps one can, based on their location, have dozens if not hundreds of potential partners to choose from. This saturation of potential partners often causes individuals to implement filters to thin out the variety of profiles, eliminating people based on ethnicity, height, weight, distance, and age. (Chan, 2575) This kind of dehumanization based on physical qualities is common on these apps, both through scholarly papers and my own personal experience. With such a large pool of potential partners to choose from, users of these dating applications slowly begin to homogenize their taste in potential partners, basing attractiveness on various mediums of exposure: such as TV, movies, and gay ****. This brings us to the topic of femmephobia and the idealization of hyper-masculinity in gay culture.
These phenomena have various root causes and no one explanation. In both heterosexual and homosexual society, masculinity is more than often hegemonic. (Miller, Behm-Morawitz 2020, 267) Hegemonic Masculinity is defined by placing emphasis of traditional gender-roles and stereotypes, creating a hierarchy of men based on how closely they fit those preconceived ideas. (Miller, Behm-Morawitz 2020, 267) How this is observed within gay culture, is men frequently describing themselves as ‘masc’ (masculine) on profile and stating they are also looking for other ‘masc’ individuals. This creates this cyclical issue of men attempting to present as ‘straight-acting’ (non-effeminate men) both reinforcing this toxic attraction to hetero-normative ideals and creating an internalized homophobia within themselves and others. (Miller, Behm-Morawitz 2020, 267) Moreover, this problem is further reinforced by men who are ‘in the closet’, presenting and living their lives as straight men, whilst using these applications to fulfil their same-*** sexual desires. Individuals who use these applications while living their lives as straight men, often treat homosexuality as a type of fetish, which can have destructive effects to openly gay men who desire romance and/or committed relationships.
Though this kind of homogeneity isn’t limited to just how an individual may express themselves. This idealization of hyper-masculinity also has effects on how a potential partner is expected to look. (Miller, Behm-Morawitz 2020, 267) The ideal of the male physique in gay society is often young, tall, muscular, hairless, lean, and white. When users were interviewed about how often and what kind of filters were used, the results were alarming. Two-thirds of the interviewees admitted to using filters to screen for undesirables. 60% of those admitted to using the filters for race, 64.9% for weight, and 48.6% for height. (Chan 2017, 2575) This limited ideal of what is found attractive within gay society is ultimately destructive to the majority of those who do not fit into those specifics. Though even more unfortunate, those who are suffering from these unrealistic expectations are also often those who perpetuate it, creating a vicious cycle of rejection, low self-esteem, and endemic loneliness. This self-perpetuating issue of unrealistic physicality is an issue the male gay community will eventually be required to address and hopefully move away from in the future.
The modern advent of mobile dating apps has been revolutionary with how homosexual men interact with each other. It has offered convenience and safety those who require it, especially in regions where homosexuality is culturally and legally not tolerated. Though the ways in these applications are used have exposed massive flaws in how gay men treat each other and themselves. Homogeneity of the ideal male, both in how they express themselves through personality, behaviours, and interests, and in the physical traits of young, tall, muscular, and white, dominates how these applications are used, damaging those who do not fit into this unrealistic expectation of existence. The oversaturation of potential partners eventually leads users to treat others in a commodified sense, dehumanizing them through use of filters. In conclusion, though these applications are necessary within societies or environments where same-*** relationships are not tolerated, the ultimate effect of modern day hook-up culture has an overall negative effect on the well-being of homosexual men.