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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Moovz.com: Yet another gay site that excludes many rural gays

Yet another gay site that elides the fact that 18% of the population of the US resides in rural areas. Go through their city list for Georgia and you'll find NOTHING in rural northeast Georgia.

Having lived in large cities - Atlanta, NYC, Munich, Seoul, Houston, Portland - much of my life, I know that they're magnets for gays from the most remote of areas who often want to connect with the people they love back home: Their friends who also use the same site. But, sites like Moovz don't seem to wish to have those people participate, or if they do, they have to choose a random city an hour or more away, and often have to choose between random cities, none of which make any sort of geographic sense because of the distance, and therefore get lost to their friends and acquaintances who give up looking for them online.

I'm sure the folks behind these sites would say that they reach some high percentage of the population, but think about this for a moment: The ones left out in the cold because of this behavior are the ones ALWAYS left out in the cold. They're the same people, over and over, who basically get a hand held up indicating to them that they don't matter on these sites.

I've heard from some that I've written to about it - one being one of the Top 3 gay sites...you know, the one with the orange themed background - whose responses are so hilariously off-topic that even a cursory glance shows that they didn't bother to read your request. Or, like that same orange-themed site, will have some bizarro geographics (check out Georgia's geographic breakout on it when you need a good laugh - overlapping areas using terms created by a state tourism department which NO ONE actually uses. One city will be in one named area, and the next over will be in a different one, but then the one past that city will be in the same area as the first city..?!?!)

Occasionally you'll get a response from other users like, "Well move then!", but they completely fail to grasp that your career is often tied to the area you live in. There aren't many farms in the middle of cities. There are no mines in the middle of cities in the US that I know of. Timber isn't cut for lumber or fiber in many cities. So, the very people who bring you your food, your mined minerals (to create things like the gadgets this very technology operate on), and the building materials that built the buildings you reside in are wholly forgotten. Again. And again. And again. Ad nauseum.

OK, if you launch with a non-inclusive list, that's fixable. That orange-themed site added a few towns...after years of requesting them, although they have one town in Georgia - Fitzgerald - listed as being in the Atlanta metro area when in reality it's 175 miles away, so they're listening, just not very well. And they're clearly too distracted to simply google it.

On almost any gay site, there is a gulf of philosophical difference between rural and urban gays, and without a doubt, the majority of that can be laid right in the laps of our urban-residing brethren. It would be nice to have a fabric of unity that stretches from coast to coast, but you can't achieve that if you have giant holes of exclusion in the very areas where the products that sustain you come from. True, there is animosity going both directions, but I remember a time when rural gays looked for support from their urban peers, and got nothing, despite the fact that rural gays showed up at Prides all across the republic - and yes, I'm aware that Prides are usually civic ventures. But the support comes from the community, as far out as it reaches. Now though, with our online lives becoming increasingly important to us, the support that rural gays showed is not only not reciprocated, it's shunned by virtue of exclusion from participating in any community-oriented - and I mean the rural communities in which we live - sort of way. If I don't have the tool to round up a group of my local gays readily available, then it will be difficult to get them together at all.

The old Gay.com used to do a stellar job of giving everyone - urban, suburban, exurban, or rural - a chance, a place, and a tool that might act as...pardon the Tolkienism..."One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them".

Every time I hear of a new gay site launch, I hope it will give us that chance. It seems like Moovz isn't that site, but I won't rule it out. Yet.