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Internet, tolerance spark change in urban gay communities
Date:6/9/2008

ST. PAUL / MINNEAPOLIS (June 9, 2008) Gay communities such as clubs, bars, events and neighborhoods appear to be changing worldwide in light of several key factors, including Internet dating and achievement of civil rights, according to new University of Minnesota research.

In 2007, about 30 HIV prevention experts, researchers, and gay community leaders from 17 cities spanning 14 different countries completed surveys about changes in their communities. They also participated in a facilitated, structured dialogue asking if gay communities are changing, and if so, how. In all cities, the virtual gay community was identified as currently larger than the offline physical community. Most cities identified that while the gay population in their cities appeared stable or growing, the physical gay community infrastructure appeared in decline.

"With the exception of London and possibly New York, gay bars and culture are changing. On almost all measures, we're seeing the same trend: decreasing number of gay bars/clubs, decreased attendance at gay events, less volunteerism in gay or HIV/AIDS organizations and, less gay media, resulting in an overall decline in gay visibility," said Simon Rosser, Ph.D., principal investigator on the study and professor in the School of Public Health's Division of Epidemiology and Community Health.

"The biggest reason for these changes, we think, is the Internet. Traditional gay communities have become much quieter now that most gay men are online. It's really a worldwide trend."

The study is published online and will be featured in an upcoming print issue of the journal AIDS Care.

Study participants reported several ways gay communities are transitioning. Societal oppression, lack of rights, and the HIV epidemic were powerful reasons why gay men came together as a community in inner cities, which eventually became gay-identified neighborhoods, Rosser said.

Now, in cities as diver
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Contact: Nick Hanson
hans2853@umn.edu
612-624-2449
University of Minnesota
Source:Eurekalert

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