by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
It is no secret that many Gay men cruise online. As soon as the world went to the web, so did the Gays. I have a number of friends that have profiles on any number of hookup and online dating sites. One could even make the argument that some Gay men have left the bar scene for the cyber scene - in fact, Gay online dating and marketing guru Phil Henricks is banking on it.
Phil Henricks, head of the North American market for the UK-based Gaydar.net, is responsible for the site's tremendous growth. He is no stranger to online dating/hook-up sites. Before Gaydar.net came knocking on his door, Henricks was the promotions director for m4mworld.com - the forerunner to Manhunt and similar sites. In other words, Henricks is approving your profile.
'Gaydar.net is a Gay-owned and Gay-operated company, and as such we really understand the wants and needs of the Gay market,' Henricks told Seattle Gay News. 'Over the past few years, the marketing landscape has changed and there are countless ways to reach people both digitally and through the many traditional methods. That being said, without truly 'getting' and respecting the Gay community, you will not be successful. Members appreciate Gaydar.net because they know we have been a part of the global Gay landscape for many years. We are part of the fabric of the community.'
Gaydar.net is the biggest Gay dating, social networking and lifestyle website on the planet. Launched in the UK over 10 years ago, it's also become one of the most established sites, and now boasts over 6 million members worldwide. Though Gaydar officially swaggered onto American shores in 2009, it did so packin' several hundred thousand existing U.S. profiles - early joiners (via the UK portal) attracted not only by Gaydar's unique features and exotic members, but also by lifestyle sites GaydarRadio.com and entertainment-oriented GaydarNation.com.
'The two owners were a very happy couple and had a good friend who was single and constantly complaining about being lonely and hating the bar scene. One of the owners was a total geek who was developing software for large travel companies and decided to try his hand at a Gay dating site,' explained Henricks. 'Shortly after Gaydar.net was launched, and - 6 million members later - the rest is history.'
Henricks says that part of the Gay dating site's success is that Gaydar.net was one of the first. 'Gaydar.net launched way back in the day when guys were still meeting up via AOL chat rooms. It was one of the first self-contained, non-censored, Gay-owned sites on the web for men to meet men. A very loyal community was created, which grew considerably over the years. With Gay men traveling so much, the site quickly grew, even in the most remote corners of the world. The profiles are not only about sex, with faceless pics of random body parts. We offer people a solid variety of men and options.
No matter what your type or what you like, Gaydar warmly welcomes the weary online personals cruiser. Sporting a tool belt full of profile-enhancing features and search-refining options, Gaydar is highly customizable and equally user-friendly, whether you're a true romantic or total tramp. List your details, write your profile, note your hobbies and favorite things, check boxes next to a dizzying array of keywords, and top it all off with up to 26 photos (plus up to five of your very own videos), and you will have created the most complete profile you've ever obsessed over.
Along with online fun, Gaydar.net officials say they fully recognize their responsibility to promote safe sex practices. 'Gaydar.net was one of the first Gay websites to actively pursue and work with community organizations and HIV prevention groups throughout the world,' said Henricks. 'We are always looking to work with more health organizations and offer them all free banners on the site. We also make all members include on their profile if they play safe or not. We realize this is a personal decision, but encourage all our members to play safe.'
In addition, Henricks says the company is vigilant in its stance against anti-bullying and homophobia. 'There are actually profiles of police organizations on Gaydar.net that are exclusively there for members to reach out to in case they have encountered a dangerous situation,' he said. 'Gaydar.net was also one of the first sites to post safety tips and online dating 'dos and don'ts' on the site. The safety of our members is always a prime concern.'
'We work with Gay Pride organizations all over the world,' said Henricks. 'This past year we were a principal sponsor of NYC Pride as well as the Winter Party in Miami. Two great parties and two great causes, we had a blast at both and got to meet countless members face-to-face. A few years ago Mardi Gras in Sydney was about to be cancelled, until Gaydar.net stepped in and literally saved the day with a very generous donation. The Aussie boys are still talking about it and love their Gaydar.net!'
GaydarRadio.com, accessible to Gaydar members as well as the general public, is a full-fledged 24-hour radio station, with live on-air hosts, dance music, hourly news, loads of reviews and music videos (many not available in the U.S.!), and interviews with top global pop stars. Lady Gaga, Grace Jones, Erasure, Adam Lambert, Joan Rivers, and UK dance superstar Sophie Ellis Bextor are among the many who've been featured.
GaydarNation.com is a lifestyle website equal to its top American counterparts, albeit with a refreshingly British spin. Additional channels completing the package include Travel, Entertainment, News (much of it U.S.), and Lifestyle (Health), but new visitors are advised to start with the aptly titled Fun channel. Gay the day away clicking through Totty Watch (hottie watch), Dykons (dyke + icon), Quizzes, Video Wall (novelty, humor, silly celebs), Q Scopes and the he-larious Fun Stuff page, home to short witty articles, advice, pithy top-10 lists and the brilliant 'Heroes and Villains' series.
'We just launched an iPhone app, which is getting rave reviews,' said Henricks. 'We are the first major Gay site to have an app that is fully integrated with the actual site. When you are using it, you see not only members that are on their iPhone, but also those sitting at home on their laptops. We are doing a total redesign of the site, which should be complete in the next few months. It's a very exciting and busy time for us.'
Gaydar.net isn't just for the guys. Something to bear in mind when your best Lesbifriend gives your Gaydar-raving self the 'shut-it' look: If it worked for you, it could work for her. Tell her to get her jealous butt over to GaydarGirls.com and get to clicking. It's the world's biggest Lesbian dating website, with more Lesbian personals than she can shake a stick at - or something.
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