chapter  15
14 Pages

Look at Me! Images, Validation, and Cultural Currency on Gaydar

BySHARIF MOWLABOCUS

Digital images abound on Gaydar,varying greatly in terms of quality, size, content, sexual explicitness, and relationship to the user. My chief concern here is with two popular types of images, those that feature the user’s face (known in Gaydar parlance as a “face-pic”) and those of the user’s body, or parts of his body. In both cases I will argue that such images operate as culturally important resources within “gay life” online and can be understood as confirming an investment in gay online culture.Also digital images such as this appear as a stabilizing force for identity formation and cultural legibility, offering a structuring device for the proliferation of specific ideas as to what it is to be a gay man in contemporary Western culture. Central to this understanding of cultural legibility is the relationship between profile images and gay pornography. I argue here for recognition of this relationship, and of the politics that such an investment in commercial sexual representation entails.