The New Media Revolution Within a Queer-Subculture: Part 2- BGC (bgclive.com) & When “Hook-Up” Sites Have the Potential for Community Organizing
It is no secret. The Internet and new media have single-handedly shifted the way we live our lives. This revolutionized form of media has changed politics, social life and international relations. What I want to examine is a how new media impacts the queer community of color. What does new media mean for those who are most marginalized in a society that cares more about wall street’s success than the equality of people without privilege. Last week I introduced what I believe to be a website that is drastically changing the idea of new media within the black LGBTQ community. Black Gay Chat Live also known as bgclive.com has concurrently produced a space for black men to network, date, express their politics through forums, get information on health, and publish blogs and stories. Essentially this website is a tangible expression of the lives, voices, and attitudes of queer men of color.
The stereotype of BGC has been categorized and labeled mostly as a “sex site” or “hookup” site, however, I think it is and has the potential to be much more than that. The website conjures up more than 160,000 daily unique visitors of mostly black gay men, but also men of all races (according to Google analytics). I think one really needs to gauge the potential that any space can have when thousands of people are in one place at one time interacting with each other.
Bayard Rustin, one of the only out black gay civil rights activists, organized the 1963 march on Washington. This march was so successful because it brought hundreds of thousands of people together for a common cause. However, the time, effort and money that went into organizing the march on Washington made it something that is hard to reproduce, even today. New Media has changed the difficulty of bringing people together. And BGC has made it possibly to create “March on Washington-like” crowds, on a daily basis. So this website does not need to be dismissed as new media’s lustful conglomerated manifestation of gay life— it is so much more than that. And though I do not think BGC’s full potential has been tapped into, I do believe that it has made progress in using the space for educational and political purposes.
The health education section of the website is not perfect, but it is doing some good. In this section the website gives information on the ways to contract HIV, how to reduce risk of contracting HIV, HIV statistics from the CDC, and where to find a local testing center. This section title “Health/Education” is incomplete in my opinion. HIV/AIDS is a necessary topic to cover, however, I believe there needs to be a broader range of educational topics and opportunities listed on the website. Possibly information about issues impacting local queer communities of color or non-profit organizations that work with youth and adults in the LGBTQ community.
The opportunities for the website are endless, the people (more than 160,000 of them and over half a million total members) are showing up every day to interact with each other. People are posting their original stories, national campaigns (like the black aids institute) are starting to use the website to raise awareness, and millions of forum topics are furthering an intellectual and engaging discourse of queer communities of color. The one problem with the potential that I find in the website is that it is more than 90 percent male, which obviously is not representative of the whole queer community. However, there are other website being utilized by women in the queer community that have a similar potential.
BGC is just one of the new media phenomenon’s within the queer community of color. This website and others like it, need to be examined more to understand the capabilities and community organizing possibilities that new media serves in queer subcultures.