Saturday, 19 July 2008


Though made of angels and demons in unequal measure, what I am and ever shall be is vanilla, the various shenanigans detailed within this blog notwithstanding.

However I did think this truck stop on the road to love would be the time to describe in more detail the dating, chat, and cruising (yes, it’s true) websites I’ve joined and that are listed amongst the general gubbins on the right hand side of this page.

As an aside cruising in the traditional sense is something I haven't done since I came out. I am very lucky, I think, that since then the internet let me cruise and be cruised from the comfort of my own home. My experiences of that could lead to an interesting discussion about what – in this world of webcams, mobiles and instant messaging – exactly sex is. But let us savour the unsavoury prospect of that discussion, gentle reader, at another time.

Where to begin?

Well, let us start with gaydar. It’s a cruising site; I would generally dive straight into the chat rooms, pick someone up and that would be that. It’s a place to go if you want to have sex with men without too much fuss and with absolutely no strings attached. It is a well done website, with profiles, messaging, instant messaging, chat-rooms and, well virtually everything your heart, soul and baser nature could desire.

I have met there some genuinely nice people who have become not ‘lovers' but friends and indeed there is a community undercurrent if you look hard enough for it. But, in the final analysis gaydar = sex, and there you will almost certainly get some. Membership is very inexpensive but most of the site’s features are available in some form free.

Next then is my most favouritest man-web-place, OUT. NOT for sex, no sir. Or at least not obviously so; I’ve had my fair share of assignations, I must admit. It is, however, first and foremost a great ‘community’ site. Forums, messaging and real-word activities. It is also generally pretty work safe, depending of course on where you work. I’ve made quite a few friends off that site and it is where most of my actual proper date dates have been had, as opposed to casual hook-ups. OUT really isn’t for that kind of thing, though as indicated it can happen. It is a pay site but isn’t too expensive, and you get an honest-to-God membership card too!

As for explicit dating – Guardian Soulmates. It’s at the pricier end of the market and, cheekily, it is free to access messages but you have to pay a membership fee before you can reply. Having said that I met Mark there, and it came recommended by a friend so it must be quite good for anyone looking for romance.

In complete contrast Squirt is a total meat market. No romance there, oh no. It is like a smaller version of gaydar, but it has some useful additional features, including video-chat and video-chat rooms – though as you can imagine people seem rarely to use them for 'chat'!! Also, if someone sends you a message the site notifies you by email (whereas with gaydar you have to log in and check). Thirdly, members can rate each other according to their experiences. Here's a remarkably flattering example (that was posted some time after the event I would hasten to add):

Again there is a small membership fee, but not too onerous. I guess the main difference with gaydar is that Squirt is much more explicit BUT at the same time you’re much less likely to get anywhere. What I mean by that is that there are lots of guys who promise the Earth and then fail to deliver – to the point where I often have agreed to accommodate someone for an assignation entirely secure in the knowledge they simply won’t turn up. Great banquests I have planned only to end up with egg and chips *sigh*. Having said that I consistently have had a, well, let’s say broader range of experiences via Squirt than via gaydar. So on balance I would recommend joining, but as one of a few sites rather than just that one.

Parship is another dating site. Purely dating. Interestingly it searches for likely matches based on a psychometric profile, and it does not allow you to pick your own user name or let you show profile picture. You may, though, write something about yourself to go with your psychometric profile that is accessible to others on the site. Should someone be interested they will contact you, or you can contact someone who interests you. Only at that time can you reveal your secret identity and show your face. I’ve found it to be a relatively ‘slow’ site, but then I’ve not really concentrated on it and generally I think you get out of all these sites what you put in. Overall it's worth a whirl!

Queer Personals does a good job of striking a balance between community, dating and cruising aspects. It’s quite new but seems to be growing fast and for the moment is totally free. Consciously taking the best bits from most of the sites listed above I would recommend people join it and help it to grow; as it is so new I think there is a genuine opportunity to effect the site’s development. It caters to members' needs a bit better than most of the other sites I've mentioned and I think it is highly suitable for younger gay men in particular.

And the rest? Fitlads and Gay Date are mere footnotes and fripperies to this post. There’s nothing much to say about them; whether you seek the l’amour or le petit mort, try the other sites above before you go there.

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