This article was originally written by The Modern Gay for Match.com
I have been using the internet to communicate with other gay guys my age since I was fourteen-years-old. What started as a means to explore my curiosities in the privacy of my bedroom has matured into a means by which I have met romantic partners. In the early days of internet dating you were warned not to share too much detail about your life for fear of being taken advantage of but as we have become more comfortable with this digital medium we are more open to sharing our phone numbers, private pictures, personal stories and even our home addresses.
When I was eighteen I signed up for one of the few gay dating sites that existed at the time. The internet was the only access I had to the big gay world but because I was still in the closet I was reluctant to use a real profile picture for fear of being outed. Like many other questioning, young gay guys, I established a false profile, using an image that I found online. I created an alluring persona of the ideal “straight-acting”, high school jock and used this disguise to communicate with other guys. Luckily though, I quickly realized the pointlessness in pretending to be someone you are not, both digitally and in real life. Although my fake profile allowed me to comfortably chat to other gay guys (something I could not do while I was still in school) I knew that these relationships would never eventuate into anything more than an internet fling. I deleted my accounts and stopped using the internet for chatting until I was comfortable enough to establish a profile that reflected the real me, with genuine pictures included.
Since then I have met some great guys through dating websites and apps. Along the way I have also learnt some valuable lessons about online dating, the most important of which is honesty. Pretending to be someone that you are not is pointless in the long run. Sure it may allow you to escape the reality of your life in the moment but ultimately it’s a dead end and people inevitably are hurt. I also strongly believe that we should only be in relationships with people who love us for who we are and not for who we think they want us to be. The best way to attract these people into your life is to be honest from day one, and this means being honest in your online profile too. Exaggerating your height, body type or income may increase the views on your profile but what happens when you meet your love interest in person and he realizes that you are not a six-foot-two footballer with a six-figure salary? Such superficial things as body type and salary should not even matter in a loving relationship but they will become an issue if you have lied about them from the start.
While honesty is certainly the most important rule in online dating, here is a list of 7 practical ways to improve your online profile that will hopefully lead to happily ever after.
Image by Steven Kohlstock
Being Gay and African; I grew up thinking there was something wrong with me just because I saw in other gay men an identity that reflected my own. I saw in my own gender my desires for love, companionship and relationships. Growing up in an environment where I and others like me, were shunned was not easy. The internet is the only place many of us sought refuge to communicate and to share with someone who understood. Still we hid, even in these little known forums. Everybody did and many still do, mask their real identities for fear of being discovered and unleashing pandora’s box on their lives. Therefore reading this reassured me and gave me hope that indeed it is ok for me as a writer and humanitarian- to continue spreading the message to people discriminated and who face persecution because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, that is is ok to be yourself; in fact there is no better option than yourself. And to those who continue to wield hatred and intolerance, see us for who we are, we are, as Gay men, a flower too beautiful, to face early extinction.