Checking off Craig’s list

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February 1, 2010

8:57 PM

_Warning: The content of The Flat Hat’s Daily Grind blog contains adult themes and explicit language. Please contact the editor-in-chief if you have questions or concerns._

So I watched my first David Lynch movie over Thanksgiving break. If you’ve ever seen a movie by this guy, you know he’s a director with a knack for establishing atmosphere, and this film —“Blue Velvet” — totally lived up to the hype. This movie is scary, but it also really resonated with me. There’s one moment very early on where the camera slowly moves down, down, down into the green grass of a perfect surburban lawn until you’re actually watching bugs in severe close-up as they chew and click and crunch and crawl. As the film’s plot progresses, you realize just what Lynch was up to there: the characters you meet and observe are just as gross as those bugs. “Blue Velvet” shows the molding flipside of the Wonder Bread, the nighttime activities of Anytown, USA.

While watching this movie, I realized the College of William and Mary has secrets of its own. On center stage boys and girls are meeting one another, starting relationships, having sex, blah blah blah. This is the world we know. This is familiar. But behind the scenes it’s a whole ’nother story. I’m thinking specifically about Craigslist, that website of classifieds for goods and services — and, for plenty of our classmates, a way to get their goods serviced.

Look at the “men seeking men” section of Craigslist. It’s full of guys on our campus interested in sex with other guys and, judging from the abundance of you-must-be-discreets, these are kids who don’t want it publicly known that they’ve turned to the internet for sex. I’m not at all equating the guys using Craigslist to the corrupt and terrifyingly scandalous men and women in “Blue Velvet;” in fact, plenty of my good friends have used Craigslist for sex. I just find it fascinating that, right beneath our noses, there are guys orchestrating anonymous hookups through Craigslist. And I can’t help but wonder: how’s the sex?

A closer look at these ads might help answer that question. Craigslist allows a guy to be explicit about what he wants, no matter how standard or out-there his desires. I’ve seen posts from dudes looking for a night of kissing and handholding, to posts from bottoms seeking tops, tops seeking bottoms, bears seeking chub-friendly friends with benefits, older guys hoping for live-in house boys. Apparently anything goes in this online world, and I think that’s mostly due to the safety of knowing you’re anonymous.

But is it safe? We’ve all been warned against talking to strangers, so surely having sex with one is a total no-no, right? Meeting someone online sounds pretty frightening to me, but maybe that’s what attracts Craigslist’s clientele? There are wolves in the forest, and their jaws clamp hard. The danger here goes beyond the mere physical threat of meeting up with a person you don’t know — there’s also the threat that they might use the information you’ve sent them and expose you.

For instance, I knew a guy who created false e-mail accounts for the explicit purpose of catching guys and outing them as Craigslist users. Craigslist interactions put you in a pretty vulnerable situation: you’re trading pictures of your naked body and eventually your face in the hopes that you’ll find someone to sleep with. Add that to the fact that plenty of guys use this site for sex while they’re still in the closet, questioning their sexuality or in a committed relationship and you have a situation that can get really destructive really fast.

But then again, one of my good friends managed a — how shall we put it? — successful transaction through Craigslist. He spent weeks e-mailing back and forth with a top that struck his fancy, and claims sex with this guy was some of the best he’s ever had. I remember thinking: how do you know the guy who claims he’s a 25 year-old muscle stud interested in spooning and cooking you breakfast isn’t actually a 45 year-old leather daddy into water sports and nipple clamping? I guess that’s the risk you take when you choose to go down this forest path. For this friend of mine, Craigslist worked out.

Part of me gets sad thinking about Craigslist. Part of me wonders if this is what we’ve come to as gay guys. Do we need to rely on virtual interactions for _everything_? Roll your eyes at me if you want, but I have to ask: is Craigslist a sign of the times? Is Craigslist just a Facebook of hooking up? What about those guys having sex through Craigslist while still in the closet, or those guys using the site as a way to cheat on their boyfriends? And what about those guys who end up experiencing mind-blowing sex? There’s so much to talk about here and I’d love to read what you all think. Speak up in the comments!

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