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Looking for Love in the Age of AIDS: The Language of Gay Personals, 1978-1988

Alan G. Davidson
The Journal of Sex Research
Vol. 28, No. 1 (Feb., 1991), pp. 125-137
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3812954
Page Count: 13
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Looking for Love in the Age of AIDS: The Language of Gay Personals, 1978-1988
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Abstract

Previous research focusing on changes in gay male sexual practices as a result of AIDS often avoids taking into consideration the meanings which sexual practices have within the gay community. As an alternative, the present study used a content-analysis of personals advertisements within the personals section of "The Village Voice" to assess changes in the language gay men use to refer to their sexuality between the years 1978, 1982, 1985, and 1988. A significant increase in personals advertisements suggesting a concern with health is noted from 1982 to 1985. This increase continues from 1985 to 1988. Corresponding in time with these changes are increases in the number of personals advertisements which express a rejection of "stereotypical" presentations of self within the gay community. This rejection is seen as an attempt at self-affirmation of characteristics perceived by gay men themselves as being desirable at particular historical moments. Implications for the basis of future policy interventions in reaction to AIDS are discussed. Finally, the utility of personals advertisement columns as an indicator of the meanings which people of various sexual preferences attach to their sexuality is discussed.

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