Whether you still call it the Gay Niche or fully embrace it and call it the Gay Movement - Gay Websites and their webmasters have arrived. Gay Adult Business on the Internet has reached its critical mass and is breaking out of the industry and the self imposed silence that has been the norm for many years...
One of the most influential people in bringing the gay side of the business to credibility is CEO Assistant Lisa Turner, of BadPuppy.com. Having been in the industry for many years, Lisa recalls 'the old days' of webmaster conventions. "...the literature or content info flyers were kept behind the desk or podium at the adult webmaster conventions. That always amused me when going booth to booth and asking a given company if they offer or will be offering any gay content or websites for promotion with their affiliate programs. Some would pull out that hidden flyer or brochure, but most would simply smile and say, we only handle the straight market. Some were a bit more snide in their remarks, almost like I'd insulted them by asking. Well, some of these companies are now rolling out their first and some their second or third gay site!
The Mainstreaming of Gay Business (as I call it) has been an uphill battle that very few were willing to fight. Two of the largest reasons for this silence have been the lack of a welcoming outlet to discus, sell or advertise our wares, and the desire to protect the 'secret' of the growth potential of this side of the marketplace. With many webmasters seeing a drop in growth and a need to utilize new markets, this has shifted, and now gay male websites can now be found in most of the offerings from historically ‘straight’ programs.
Two of the exceptions to these unwritten rules of how to handle the gay side of the business were Python, and RJB Telcom (MaxCash). These companies realized early on the value of reaching out to gay surfers, and in turn helped legitimize the market for other offerings. The strong support and respectful marketing of these products has gone a long way to helping John Q. Webmaster realize that one does not need to be gay to profit from gay.
Not to mention the advent of such defusing mainstream media as 'Ellen', 'Will & Grace', 'Queer as Folk' and the scores of other high profile, positively portrayed, gay and lesbian characters on prime time television and in many of Hollywood’s biggest offerings.
Of course all of this progress has its negatives as well. The gay community seems to have an endless supply of specialty terms to describe quite specific types of men – and the scenes in which they are portrayed. These specific descriptions are being bastardized at an alarming rate, and are diluting the effectiveness of such as a marketing / packaging method.
One example would be the term 'twink', the origin of this term lies in an extruded cake product which, for fear of legal recourse, will remain un-named. Soft, golden brown and smooth on the outside but full of cream on the inside, this product was adopted as a catch all term to describe young men (18-23) with smooth, golden skin not a lot of body hair, except in pubic regions, and usually sporting blonde hair. Twinks were one of the first major markets exploited online and continue to be a big income earner for many people.
The problem now is that twink is being used to describe anyone and anything in gay porn. Whereas 3 years ago you could type twink into a search engine and be assured of getting men as described above; now you can receive everything from heavyset hairy men (bears), to muscled sport types (jocks). A lack of education on the part of the gay webmasters offering product for promotion is most likely largely to blame; however it is my opinion that unless corrected, this trend will be very harmful to the industry as a whole. Surfers know what they want and what they like – being unable to find it will result only in the credit card or checkbook being put away in favor of some other outlet…
Steve is the owner/operator of DeviantCash.com, one of the first niche gay partner programs on the net. He is also a freelance consultant in the areas of branding, marketing, and site development.