Indexed on: 06 Jul '14Published on: 06 Jul '14Published in: Culture, health & sexuality
This paper considers how certain functions of online hook-up devices are participating in the emergence of new forms of sexual relation, new distributions of intimacy and new sexual arrangements. Though not without precedent, it argues that online hook-up devices generally act in gay culture as 'framing devices', framing sex as a 'no-strings' encounter via their default application. These frames are variously rejected, reconfigured, re-embedded or confounded by participants; they become subject to various forms of overflowing. Understanding this dynamic, its typical forms of connection and estrangement, is pivotal for grasping the emergence of new forms of sexual community and new sexual publics among gay men--and/or 'un-community', as some have put it. My analysis prompts a series of methodological reflections wrought from the encounter it stages between queer theory and Science and Technology Studies. At a time when marriage and monogamy are increasingly monopolising the public discourse of gay life, digital devices are affording novel ways of arranging sex, intimacy and sexual community, with their own qualities and limitations.