Man seeks man: Gay men’s profiles on a website as subject production

Brennan, T. and Hegarty, P. J. (2010). Man seeks man: Gay men’s profiles on a website as subject production. Psychology of Sexualities Review, 1(1) 5 - 18.



In this study, informed by social constructionist approaches to self and identity and LGBTQ psychology, 300 profiles posted by gay men on the dating website were analysed in terms of the narrative and interpretative resources used to construct an online gay identity. The analysis found evidence of a very active engagement with communication technology, with several profiles inviting the viewer to chat or send a message or photographs. Many profile owners professed to be ‘genuine’. Distancing themselves from the alleged shallowness of the majority of other website members. A widely used discursive strategy for constructing the self and the type of person(s) sought was the expression ‘straight acting,’ with an attendant rejection of camp and derogation of a ‘visibly gay’ style – a concerning finding that points to the policing of (self) presentation along exclusionary lines. While many profiles celebrated the site as a locus of new possibilities for sexual expression, website users mainly looking for a relationship constructed the website’s perceived emphasis on sex as commodification. As this was an exploratory study, future research could consider more websites, specialized (e.g., fetish) sites and emphasise their photographic/multimedia and interactive possibilities.

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