Gay men, Gaydar and the commodification of difference

Article English OPEN
Light, BA ; Fletcher, G ; Adam, AE

Purpose\ud To investigate ICT mediated inclusion and exclusion in terms of sexuality through a study of a commercial social networking website for gay men\ud Design/methodology/approach\ud The paper uses an approach based on technological inscription and the commodification of difference to study Gaydar, a commercial social networking site.\ud Findings\ud Through the activities, events and interactions offered by Gaydar, we identify a series of contrasting identity constructions and market segmentations which are constructed through the cyclic commodification of difference. These are fuelled by a particular series of meanings attached to gay male sexualities which serve to keep gay men positioned as a niche market.\ud Research limitations/implications\ud The research centres on the study of one, albeit widely used, website with a very specific set of purposes. The study offers a model for future research on sexuality and ICTs.\ud Originality/value\ud This study places sexuality centre stage in an ICT mediated environment and provides insights into the contemporary phenomenon of social networking. As a sexualized object, Gaydar presents a semiosis of politicized messages that question heteronormativity while simultaneously contributing to the definition of an increasingly globalized, commercialized and monolithic form of gay male sexuality defined against ICT.
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