Researchers have documented the phenomenon of men looking for sex with other men who don’t identify as gay on the American Craigslist classifieds website.
They do this either to fulfil a fantasy or because it allows anonymous sexual encounters without discovery, said the researchers, who found that one in 10 male same-sex Craigslist ads seek non-gay-identified (NGI) men.
The NGI men included straight, bisexual, married, curious, and men on the “down low” (those who usually identify as heterosexual but have sex with men).
Craigslist was chosen for the study because it is publicly accessible, highly trafficked, free-of-charge, and widely used by gay, NGI men seeking men, or men who have sex with men and women to find sexual partners.
Among the male same-sex ads studied, 11% were placed by men seeking NGI partners. Only 24% of the men seeking NGI men were themselves non-gay-identified.
This suggests, said the researchers, that many of the posts are placed by gay men seeking NGI men; perhaps perceived by some gay men to be more masculine, dominant, or “straight-acting.”
Only a small number of ads by NGI-seeking men mentioned safe sex or condom use. The analysis revealed that men seeking NGI partners were significantly less likely to mention that they wanted to have safer sex/use condoms (15% vs. 33%) and were more likely (66% vs. 42%) to omit mention of condoms or safer sex in their advertisements.
“This suggests that these men are more likely to be looking for and willing to engage in sex without a condom which may place them at greater risk for HIV/STI transmission than men who are not seeking non-gay-identified male partners,” said co-author Dr. Eric Schrimshaw, of the Mailman School of Public Health.
“Future research on NGI-seeking men could lead to better understanding of their risk behaviours which, in turn, could be helpful for developing and targeting HIV/STD prevention and intervention efforts,” he noted.
“Men having sex with men with characteristics that are devalued in the sexual marketplace such as older, heavier, or less masculine men will perhaps have less bargaining power, or at least perceive themselves as having less power, therefore, they may be willing to place themselves at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases to obtain a sexual partner,” said co-author Dr. Martin J. Downing, of the National Development and Research Institutes.
These findings suggest that men may be even more willing to do this with NGI men, which has implications for sexual health research targeting non-disclosing, NGI men who have sex with men and their same-sex partners.