My delightful commentariat agreed that broke neurotic homos looking for love ought to try Craigslist, so I hopped on the site closest to Lurkville and took a look-see. Oy vey. I wish I owned a closet so that I could have run screaming back into it, slamming the door shut behind me.
I’m trying to disentangle the antipathy I felt while browsing the site. I returned a second time as research (not “research”) for this entry, and it is still a mess. Expect this blog entry to be even less coherent than usual.
I don’t know what else I was expecting, but clearly the m4m sections of Craigslist are oriented towards hookups. (Even the “strictly platonic” sections aren’t.) That’s one strike, but I get the feeling that it is unavoidable in the m4m universe.
There are a few people looking for less hookup-y setups, and they stick out like sore thumbs. I find myself wondering whether these people are aware of what Craigslist is for, which is unfair because Craigslist is supposed to be for relationships, not just hookups.
Most of the posters want stats and pics. Stats I can deal with (sort of — my stats are underwhelming). Pics? Although pictures and even Youtube video of me exist on the Internet, I am pretty paranoid about not having my face on the Information Superhighway, whether in a gay context or otherwise. To my knowledge I have never taken a selfie. Clearly this is a dealbreaker when looking for looooooove; everybody (including me!) wants some idea of what they are getting into when answering a personals ad.
But there are pics and there are pics. Many of these Internet strangers want pictures of private body parts, and/or pictures where the subjects are immodestly dressed. Some people even post pictures on their profiles which contain both their faces and their immodestly-dressed bodies. That seems insane to me. But again it seems par for the course.
None of this is surprising. What surprised me was how much antipathy I felt browsing the profiles, even for people who ticked some of my boxes. I don’t like drama, and human relationships are full of drama. When I read a hookup ad my anxieties turned towards creepy people and disease. When I read a non-hookup ad they turned towards irritations and arguments. This is some combination of misanthropy, homophobia and rationalization, but it surprised me nonetheless.
Then there were the long disclaimers about no-shows and creeps and “endless emails”, which made participating in this community feel like an enormous amount of hassle. I have enough hassle these days looking for work and trying to find roommates; my tolerance for dealing with strangers is exhausted.
Most of these people are not creeps. When I get out of my head enough to interact with others, it occurs to me that most people are mostly good most of the time. There are probably several people who would make good friends and reasonable sexual partners. But everybody has drama, and I just don’t want to get involved with that drama.
On the positive side, I did run across ads that reflected some of my own perversions. These people were not looking for people like me, but it is somewhat comforting to know that I am not the only deviant in town.
But (and this is where my confessions get particularly uncomfortable) even though I want to see other people’s pictures and even though I appreciate that other people are looking for similar things to what I fantasize about, I feel deep fear about other people knowing that I am looking for these things. Being recognised on such sites by people I know in my daily life would be embarrassing, to say the least. Let’s call it what it is: internalized homophobia. I can rationalize this by saying that I don’t want it to affect my next job (there is some chance I would be teaching, and my students or administration could come across these activities), but I do not know how much I believe that. Certainly people can and do get fired from their jobs for their personal lives, but there are also lots of people in similar positions who actively look for looooooove on the Internets. Honestly, I would be embarrassed to post an explicit ad on Craigslist, and that is evidence enough that I should stay away.
I hate this. I hate these vacillations. I may be in a space now where I rationally and emotionally understand that I ought to be alone, but the part of me that feels lonely and craves human touch refuses to concede defeat. I’m over 30; by now my libido should have shrivelled up and left me in peace.
If nothing else, I think that Craigslist is probably the wrong forum for me. I doubt there is a right forum. In the past I have considered OKCupid, but I doubt that would work any better. Being on that site would still involve posting pictures and interacting with other human beings.