A new study has discovered that in one in ten of all Craigslist ads for men-seeking-men, the men being sought aren’t necessarily gay.
The study was conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, who are studying online hook-ups to address sexual health concerns. They specifically looked at the online dynamics between gay men and non-gay-identifying (NGI) men.
According to Dr. Eric Schrimshaw, who co-authored the study, NGI seekers try “to attract more discreet and masculine men,” who according to the release are “perceived by some gay men to be more masculine, dominant, or “straight-acting.”
The researchers chose Craigslist because it was “publicly accessible, highly trafficked, free-of-charge, and widely used.” They reviewed 1,200 personals, analyzed 282, and compared ads seeking NGIs with ads that didn’t specify a preference.
Among the ads they selected for a deeper look, eleven percent were placed in order to find NGIs, which includes bisexual, married, curious, and “down low” men — or men who publicly identify as straight, but who hook up with men in private. The trouble here is that men seeking NGIs may put themselves in greater danger by trying to court rarer conquests.
“Men having sex with men with characteristics that are devalued in the sexual marketplace [...] may be willing to place themselves at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases to obtain a sexual partner,” said Dr. Martin Downing, the other author of the study.
The researchers see this as both a triumph of psychology and a call for further research.
“The research has allowed us to document the existence of a subgroup of men who actively seek out sexual encounters with men who do not identify as gay,” said Dr. Schrimshaw.
In other words, they’ve conducted deep analysis to come up with the same answer they could have found had they simply asked their closest gay friends.