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Have We Met Before? reflects on how looking for gay sex has changed

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Two guys kissing in a scene of Have We Met Before, a short movie about gay sex.

Danger. Danger and excitement have been two factors I’ve most noticed the mention of, in terms of how looking for and having gay sex has changed across the last 50 years.

Several straight friends on viewing the film came away sympathetic and concerned for this dangerous lived experience. The fear of being caught, of being arrested or losing your job back in the day.

How uncertain a connection with a new person can be right up until the moment of reveal. Are they going to beat me up or make out with me?

Have We Met Before?

Whereas those experiences were often framed differently by the gay men who told these stories, some of the older men recounting experiences before it became more socially and legally acceptable had a bit of an air of ‘Oh it was more fun when it was secret, the element of danger was a turn-on’.

Obviously, cruising and cottaging still go on today. Nonetheless, I think there is far less of a need for it when you can just turn on your phone.

How has looking for gay sex changed?

As a contributor put it, apps like Grindr have just moved cruising grounds to online. I think the big change that’s happened there, even in the space of 20 years, is around manners.

Desktop online platforms like Gaydar seemed to be more for community as well as sex. Several men who used to use these sites a lot still have friends and fuckbuddies from those platforms.

People were generally more polite and conversational, even if they weren’t into the person they were talking to. Whereas the immediacy and anonymity granted by apps means people can be all too easily and offhandedly ignored and rejected.

Whilst Have We Met Before? is primarily about sex, it also shows changes within the gay community, subtly asking the question if there still is a gay community, as such.

One 21-year-old I interviewed said he has his group of friends – who are not determined by sexuality or gender – then he has apps for sex and relationships.

These different strands of his life are neatly compartmentalized. This need for or lack of requirement for community was far too big a question to try to explore in this film, but one I want to interrogate in future work.

Nostalgia for gay sex in the 90s

Making this film further enhanced my love and nostalgia for the 90s.

There was a sweet spot in the 90s or early 00s where gay bars in London were popular (and not regularly at risk of shutting). Gay men were connecting in real life as well as online, making friends as well as sexual partners.

The HIV fear was reducing with the success of the cocktail treatment and awareness of PEP and there were more social acceptance for LGBTI people than ever before.

Like with most innovations and revolutions, there are good and bad uses. However, the ways gay men have used the apps and social media have possibly been detrimental to some people’s mental health and in-real-life social connections.

My hope for gay sex and connections in the future is that we move back to a place of real-world connections and meetings and that things don’t become even more entrenched in online or cyber meetings.

Also, looking at the bigger picture that social and legal values for LGBTI people continue to progress towards total equality. The new law requiring primary and secondary schools to teach children about non-heterosexual family structures should help enormously to accomplish this.

Have We Met Before? is set to screen at Fragments Festival on Thursday 13 June as part of Shorts Vol.3.

See also

Six unmissable LGBTI movies to catch at Fragments Festival

Booksmart is the LGBTI teen comedy we’ve been waiting for

New movie Giant Little Ones authentically depicts sex, consent, and assault among LGBTI teens

https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/have-we-met-before-gay-sex-fragments-festival/

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