The purpose of this paper is to describe how the LGBT community have embraced social networking and how for all the benefits that the community have gained, they still continue to challenge heterosexual norms. The introduction of Web 2.0 and the spread of social networking has enabled the LGBT community to flourish in a space that they have taken full advantage of. Dating apps such as Grindr have enabled the already strong community bonds within the LGBT community to be strengthened, with users cross linking the dating apps to other communication methods such as Facebook. The LGBT community do not have to conform to the standards set by heterosexual society and as always continue to run their own path.
Historically “Prior to the 1970s, homosexuality was classified as a mental illness in the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) which is widely utilised for mental health classification” (Dentato,2017). The prohibition of homosexuality in the U.S military since the “publication of the Articles of War of 1916” (Reinke & Smith, 2011) gives an indication of the type of oppression and challenges that have been historically faced by the LGBT community. It has taken over 100 years since this publication for the “2010 Congressional vote to repeal one of the military’s most controversial policies, the exclusion of open gay and lesbian persons from military service” (Reinke & Smith, 2011), this marks one of the biggest milestones in the quest for unity and equality. Since this vote the legalisation of marriage in most developed societies has also advanced the normalisation efforts, but there still exists a difference in how the LGBT community feels and acts. Since the introduction of Web 2.0 and the social interaction technologies and potential that this has opened up, the LGBT community has been on the forefront of technology use. Social platforms such as Grindr have allowed for the creation of a whole new community and provide a place where like-minded individuals can meet, chat and interact. Dating applications allow users to stay safe in their own homes and interact with like-minded individuals without having to o to a bar and guessing who may or may not be interested in them. Even though the LGBT community now have access to all the benefits of marriage equality, their use of social media platforms such as Grindr allow queer communities to form bonds that challenge heteronormative understandings/ideas of intimacy, dating and community.
The advent of dating apps such as Grindr have allowed the LGBT community to strengthen their already strong sense of community
The advent of dating apps such as Grindr have allowed the LGBT community to strengthen their already strong sense of community. This sense of community is displayed through the fact that connections made through Grindr spill onto other platforms such as Facebook messenger, this helps to signify that meaningful connections can be and are made through Grindr (Pingel et al, 2013). The fact of the matter is that most Gay men at some time in their life, normally in their youth go though a period of either being bullied or made to feel that what they are feeling is not normal. According to Zervoulis et al a study based in the UK found that one in five gay men surveyed experienced a hate incient in the last year, going on to state that members of these stigamtised groups may find online platforms a useful place for countering minority stress (Zervoulis et al ,2016). These shared experiences are part of what makes the community stronger than the heterosexual alternative, applications such as Grindr give an outlet where men of similar tendencies can be part of a wider community. The writer Cassidy states that “it has been well documented in academic arenas since the very beginnings of the public internet, that online spaces designed for the GLBT community have been highly significant in the lives of young gay men (Cassidy, 2018), in recent years there has been some findings that online spaces are not a safe place for interaction due the predatory nature of certain people. The fact is that in the study conducted by Cassidy these online spaces were found to be seen as safe places that allowed individuals to explore their identities away from the dangers that “real life” presented (Cassidy, 2018).
Dating apps such as Grindr enable the expression of intimacy and interactions similar to those experienced prior to social media
Dating apps such as Grindr enable the expression of intimacy and interactions similar to those experienced prior to social media. Intimate relations between the LGBT community have always been present there is no denying that, put simply dating apps such as Grindr have allowed for a more direct and easier way for like minded individuals to meet. Jaspal et al implies that “discovering virtual spaces that not only accepted but celebrated their sexual desires and identities” this kind of statement helps to solidify the fact that online platforms help to reinforce the already present intimate interactions. The availability and ease of finding an intimate partner have never been easier the quote “Mobile dating apps are particularly important to modern courtship and sexual activity” (Hobbs et al,2017), gives an indication that in modern society where time is precious dating apps allow users to have a similar experiences to meeting someone in a bar but negate the stress and frustration of not finding a ‘match’. Social media platforms and dating apps can have a healing affect Hobbs et al states “she believes ‘matches’ on dating apps are a form of social validation regarding desirability, which could have a positive impact on one’s self esteem. She believes that this affect allowed her to engage in a satisfying sex life” (Hobbs et al,2017). Social media platforms allow people to discover “virtual spaces that not only accepted but celebrated their sexual desires and identities” (Pingel et al, 2013). Grindr in particular is popular the flowing situation is where dating apps can have influence “it was a very straight feeling place. However through Grindr he was able to locate and chat with another co-situated gay man who was down the street at another straight bar” (Blackwell et al, 2015).
The types of interactions that dating apps such as Grindr encourage go against what would be the heterosexual ideal
The types of interactions that dating apps such as Grindr encourage go against what would be the heterosexual ideal. Many in society view the LGBT community with distain and claim that dating apps such as Grindr are “known for one thing sex” (Jaspal et al, 2017), while there’s no disputing the ease of sex seeking connected with online dating, it can be viewed with positivity. Consider the following sexual health can be defined as “a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well being in relation to sexuality” (Jaspal et al, 2017). Some may see this as objectifying people another more rational argument can be made in that members of the LGBT community explore all facets of there sexuality, identity and all the differing personalities that exist within. The heterosexual ideal while rapidly changing is still based on the perfect family and house with a white picket fence. Social media platforms and apps such as Tinder are changing the dynamic and “branching off what we already recognized as hook-up culture. Its encouraging to people to explore relationships with the people around them and while it has its drawbacks its empowering” (University Wire, 2014). The fact is that apps such as Grindr do support a wide range of interactions that are not necessarily supported by society as a whole, but they help to reinforce the fact that interactions are different and not what would be described as the heterosexual norm. People “do successfully use Grindr to meet friends or dates, just as Chris and Drew were successful in finding sex” (Blackwell et al, 2015).
The way that the LGBT community uses social platforms in particular Grindr challenge the understandings of traditional societal norms
The way that the LGBT community uses social platforms in particular Grindr challenge the understandings of traditional societal norms. The passing of marriage equality laws in many parts of the world maybe seen as a win for the LGBT community, but it also brings closer the foreboding pressure of “heterosexism i.e., if you’re not straight, there is something wrong with you” (De La Cruz, 2017), this is a trend seen all over the globe and one that sets a very dangerous precedent. This normalising of relations is changing the dynamic of what it means to be homosexual, the quote “men tend to be more emotionally remote with difficulty expressing themselves and therefore more likely to be lonely compared to women” (Papp,Mark, 2019) shows that from the outset men find it hard to connect emotionally on any level. Apps such as “Grindr are known for one thing sex seeking” (Jaspal et al, 2017), with a greater “emphasis they felt online communities placed on casual sex (Yeo & Fung, 2018) this while in part true does not fully explain the positives. A study conducted by Vrangalova & Ong, 2014 concluded that “Sociosexuality was associated with higher self-esteem, higher life satisfaction, and lower anxiety” (Vrangalova & Ong, 2014), meaning that for participants they reported greater mental satisfaction after having casual sex than before. This finding reinforces that the types of relationships and how the LGBT community view intimacy is quite different to the heterosexual traditional way of thinking. Jaspal et al states that “the construction of a positive identity maybe regarded as a component of sexual health” (Jaspal et al, 2017), most individuals will have quite differing views on sex and relationships its part of being human and having the right to choose.
Even though the LGBT community now have access to all the benefits of marriage equality, their use of social media platforms such as Grindr allow queer communities to form bonds that challenge heteronormative understandings/ideas of intimacy, dating and community. The advent of dating apps such as Grindr have allowed the LGBT community to strengthen their already strong sense of community, modern Social platforms and the introduction of Web 2.0 technologies have given a marginalised and historically oppressed community a place to thrive. Dating apps have helped to strengthen the already strong expressions of intimacy and personal interaction, by creating a place where like-minded individuals can meet without the threat of discrimination. Even today many in society view the LGBT community with distain, social media platforms and dating apps such as Grindr allow for the exploration of relationships and what they mean to the individual person not what society believes they should be. The heterosexual norm is just that heterosexual not something that the LGBT community have to conform to, people in the LGBT community see social media platforms as a safe place where they can interact freely and express what they want. An individual’s sexual health is extremely important to their understandings of intimacy and their development with the community, this is where social media platforms can help to encourage and foster development.
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