Sunday, 27 March 2011

Craigslist and the Gay Identity

One of the more intriguing stories of the last couple of weeks is the emergence of the Homodachi Research Group and the publication of their report entitled 'Exploratory National Gay Sex Survey using User-Generated Content'.

The group sadly don't identify themselves and unlike much of the literature around Craiglist, this study has not been peer-reviewed. It's therefore difficult to work out just how credible this research is. It does not seek to present the 'reality' of gay men's sex lives but rather how those lives are projected on Craigslist. I regard such research as valuable, telling us much about attitudes and performativity in seeking sexual encounters. However, this research looks at the presence of a word, and we do not therefore know whether the word 'bareback' indicates someone saying 'I do not do bareback' or 'I love bareback'. To say this is something of a draw-back is an understatement.

The site states that they analyzed over 48,000 craigslist M4M headlines in 23 (US) metropolitan areas, and claim that conducted the largest sample of gay sex survey ever made. They did no such thing, merely mining data rather than really seeking to analyse it. The full report can be downloaded here. They note at the start of the report the following:

Barebacking Capitals: Atlanta, Denver, Houston
Drug capitals: Dallas, New York, and San Francisco
Visitor capitals: Las Vegas & Washington DC
Group sex capitals: Chicago, Raleigh
69 capital: New York
Kink capitals: New York & Denver
Gym-body capitals: Los Angeles & New York

It looks an interesting project and having got this far (which is not nothing), they now move in to the more difficult analytical phase. They really ought to reveal who they are if that process it to be given any academic credibility, and as they seem to recognise, they need to become much more sophisticated in reaching any conclusions. I've previously looked at Gaydar (a sort of UK Craiglist) male for male escort websites and you can check that out here. I therefore know from experience just how much of a nightmare this sort of study can be, and I wish the group well. It could be one to watch.

Share this:

Copyright © 2014 Law and Sexuality. Designed by OddThemes | Distributed By Gooyaabi Templates