opinion

Lucrative Gay Dating Sector Advances

Alex Henderson

The gay community has not only been profitable for the adult entertainment industry because of its consumption of gay erotica, but also, because of the money gay consumers spend on everything from sex toys to BDSM events to gay strip clubs to gay phone sex. And for adult entrepreneurs whose specialty is dating websites, the gay community can be a lucrative part of the online dating world.

Like the non-gay side of adult Internet dating, gay online dating continues to evolve and is doing so rapidly. Phil Anderson, webmaster for the well known gay adult dating site, DudesNude.com, said that noteworthy gay dating trends to be aware of range from more and more mobile/wireless and smartphone use to an abundance of niche marketing to an increase in gay dating activity on some very mainstream social networking websites.

Gay men are coming out of the gay ghetto in increasing numbers, so quite a lot of gay dating is starting to take place in places you might think of as being more straight, such as Facebook.

“Gay men are coming out of the gay ghetto in increasing numbers,” Anderson explained. “So quite a lot of gay dating is starting to take place in places you might think of as being more straight, such as Facebook. To some extent, this shift is threatening dating (and) networking services that are specifically targeting gay men.”

Like Facebook, Craigslist is a popular mainstream site that has been seeing its share of gay dating activity. But when mainstream sites that aren’t strictly dating-oriented sites become a type of competitor, one response is to promote something that those mainstream sites don’t offer—such as catering to very specific niches and micro-niches.

Niches and micro-niches are an important part of gay dating — and just as heterosexual online dating is quite diverse, gay online dating is hardly monolithic. Some gay daters are strictly vanilla in their sexual tastes; others are looking for kinky sex and BDSM.

Some gay daters are looking for bears (hairy gay men) and daddies (older gay men), while other gay daters are into twinks (young, boyish gay men). Indeed, a wide variety of gay dating sites can be found on the Internet, and some of them are decidedly nicheminded. GayBDSMDate.com, MastersandSlaves.com, GayBDSM Personals.co.uk and TheDogHouse.org are examples of gay dating sites that are specifically BDSM-oriented; GaySMDating.com, another gay dating site for kinksters, proudly declares itself to be “a dating site where we believe the kinkier, the better.”

There is no shortage of gay dating sites that cater to bears, twinks, daddies, and other specific tastes. Gay-BearFinder.com and GayBearDating.com, for example, are among the many gay dating sites that were designed with the bear niche in mind.

Similarly, twinks have plenty of dating sites that are strictly twinkoriented; GayTwinkDating.com, Gay Twinkboy-Central.com and Green-Twinks.com are examples of gay dating sites that have been focusing on twinks exclusively.

Meanwhile, ethnic gay dating sites continue to be popular; it isn’t hard to find gay dating sites that cater specifically to African-American, Latino or Asian men — or in some cases, gay men who are into interracial dating. And GayMilitarySingles.com is a dating site that caters to gay men who have been enlisted in the military; the site bills itself as “the best place for gay men in the military to hook up instantly with other men” and a place where servicemen can “find a fuck buddy in uniform, and fuck his military ass until he begs for more.” Military themes have been a popular microniche in gay erotica for a long time, but many of the men who use GayMilitarySingles.com are not actors; they are gay men who really are currently active in the U.S. military or served in the military in the past. The site even allows users to search for gay men in specific branches of the military, be it the army, navy, air force or marines.

‘I think niche-oriented dating has become more prominent,” Anderson observed. “The niche sites offer services which are harder to displace by the heavyweight networking sites such as Facebook.”

In 2012, gay online dating doesn’t necessarily have to take place with the use of either a Mac or Windows-based desktop computer or a portable laptop computer. Many gay men—from kinky to vanilla, from Anglo to Latino to Asian, from bears and daddies to twinks — in different parts of the world are using their mobile/wireless devices and smartphones to look for dates.

And Anderson predicted that in 2012, gay dating via smartphones will become more and more prominent.

“Mobile Internet combined with GPS is effectively integrating cyberspace with real space,” Anderson noted. “This enables radical new possibilities. I think this technology will remain the focus of most of the new developments this year.”

Anderson added, however, that in 2012, trends in online gay dating will vary from one part of the world to another — and what is successful or popular in the U.S. or Europe might be different from what is successful or popular in parts of Latin America.

‘Different technologies and products are maturing at different times in different countries, mostly due to their differing levels of economic development,” Anderson explained. “In the developed world, the big growth areas are mostly mobile-related; in developing countries, more traditional web-based services still seem to be experiencing significant growth (and) are perhaps closer to where the developed world was five or 10 years ago. There are also cultural and legal differences between different countries, which affects people’s online behavior.”

As technology continues to evolve, so will dating websites — and from smartphones to niche marketing, it will be interesting to observe the ways in which gay online dating evolves in 2012.

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