When Chelsea Reynolds was in graduate school at the University of Minnesota, she and her friends would read Craigslist personal together, specifically the casual encounters section. That was in the early s. Reynolds said she started reading these personal while she was in high school.
Now an assistant professor of communications at California State University at Fullerton, she has continued frequenting the classifieds site — up until last week, when Craigslist suddenly axed its personals section. This phenomenon inspired Reynolds to conduct an analysis of hundreds of Craigslist personal .
The overwhelmingly negative coverage did not seem to jibe with what she had discovered in her review of hundreds of Craigslist personalposted from to in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles. President Trump is expected to the bill when it reaches his desk.
This is not the first time Craigslist listings have come under scrutiny in relation to sex trafficking. Inthe site shut down its section for erotic services after it faced pressure from state attorneys general — a move that may have endangered sex workers.
But for the majority of LGBT people who have used Craigslist for decadesthe deletion of the personals section amounts to the shuttering of yet another queer space — one that provided a free and accessible cyber haven for many wishing to explore their sexuality and gender. And even before the Internet began connecting LGBT people in novel ways, personal had played a ificant but little-known role in the history of queer romance: Personal allowed same-sex couples to meet covertly while avoiding criminal punishments that could, in some cases, end in death.
Gay would appear in printed newspapers and magazines from the 18th century onward, one notable example being Gai Piedonce the most widely read gay magazine in France — founded by journalist Jean Le Bitoux and named by philosopher Michel Foucault.
Gai Pied published personal from until And much in the same way as queer people once posted print personal out of sheer necessity, the LGBT community was also an early adopter of online dating. Queer people used a variety of such websites at a time when there was a strong stigma associated with finding romantic partners on the Internet.
Today the majority of same-sex couples meet online. And so, are they all going to shut down? Is this the end of Internet personals?
The fact that Craigslist personals are dying at time when the American public is becoming less tolerant of LGBT people worries Brandon Robinson, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of gender and sexuality at the University of California at Riverside. While there are a wide variety of LGBT-focused dating apps, Robinson said it was the open-to-anyone-with-an--address accessibility and total anonymity of Craigslist that made it so appealing — and distinct.
Robinson and the other people I interviewed for this article fear that the most marginalized queer people — such as sex workers and those in more rural areas — will be most harmed and isolated by the deletion of Craigslist personals. Robinson also believes these Craigslist users will be the least inclined to try the more mainstream dating apps, most of which require users to use their first names and connect to their social media s.
Reynolds underscored these concerns. Even in a progressive environment, I had trouble coming out as gay.
Alone in a new city, I found my people on Craigslist. Yes, Craigslist.
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By JD Shadel. March 27, Share this story.
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