So is it standard operating procedure for gays to have their own 'gay' Facebook alias?
I know it sounds odd, paranoid even, but it's a trend I've noticed. Gay guys who have their own standard Facebook pages, with their names, schools, workplaces all networked. Their photos of the family vacation, the dog, their dinner with friends...the usual stuff.
Then there's the second Facebook account...the one with a slightly different name (or altogether different), the one with the semi-nude, mostly-drunk, hands-on-abs photos that Mom shouldn't see when she looks at your profile.
And I make that claim with the knowledge of at least one reputable case.
Enter: The Doctor. He's early 30s, dating a boy I know at school, who's 'out' but not entirely so on Facebook. The Doctor's boyfriend is what some might call reputable, in the sense he's trying to keep his public image squeaky clean while privately having some good fun. To my understanding he doesn't have the second gay Facebook alias. But the Doctor sure does.
I asked our friend-of-a-friend, why would someone want two Facebooks? She laughed and showed me the photos, which included the handsome Doc in nothing but Ginch Gonch at Toronto Pride '07. Apparently he didn't want those photos getting back to the mates in the office, much less the fact he's dating a boy in university.
But isn't that a bit of a double standard? When we come out, and so publicly as to parade in (delicious) underwear, is it not public knowledge that this person is simply gay? Or does some wall exist around the Village that prevents penetrating 'straight' eyes from seeing what the dear Doctor does on his weekends?
And really, what does it matter if he's gay? Clearly it does not effect his practicing medicine, yet there is the obsession with separating the hybrid public/private performance of the 'regular' Facebook account, and the off-the-books 'gay' account.
I wondered after learning of this trend who exactly this benefits and who it detracts from. On the one hand, gays are still segregated and ostracized in the professional world, and it seems totally plausible that one would want to keep his private life separate from his professional endeavors. But at the same time, the age old argument rears it's head; if we are to combat such isolation of the community, people must be free to share their whole selves with the rest of the world without undue and unfair judgment.
Still, I can empathize with the notion of keeping some things separate from others. After all, would you really want your family and old school friends looking at who's face you were sucking last Thursday night? While on the one hand, I'm sure some wouldn't really give a damn what got online, others might be a little concerned.
But what does this say about the 'gay situation'? That the world is only going along with us 'in principal', and that actually seeing your friend rubbing the bare chest of another boy on Facebook crosses that line? Or that gays, while being out and unashamed, are censoring their 'gayest' moments from judgment of the straights in their lives, and ultimately their employers too.
And really, is it a question of personal preference or suppression of the community? Its a question of collective versus individual approach.
I don't have the gay Facebook, and judging by the way things have gone, I wonder if I ever will. That is, will I have the need to keep pictures of me clung to a sweaty, half-naked boy from being tagged to my regular account? Doubtful, because those pictures don't even exist for me.
But who knows, maybe one day. It'd kinda be nice to have that personal space, to just be comfortable with the 'friends' you have on Facebook. That's one of the inherent flaws of the service as it is, the fact that I've got people on there from all through my past, that I'll never really see again, but that I don't want to leave any memorable images with.
So tell me, one of you must have the gay Facebook.