A survey by Harris Interactive shows that gay and lesbian Internet users visit blogs more often than their straight counterparts by a ratio of about 3 to 1. The same demographic niche seems to be more inclined to use social networking sites like MySpace.
According to a report from The Advocate,
More than one in three LGBT Web users, 36 percent, report visiting their favorite personal blogs daily, compared with 19 percent of straight people, according to a national survey by Harris Interactive.There certainly are a lot of popular blogs that have appeal for gay and lesbian readers. One thinks of Perez Hilton's celebrity gossip blog, Andrew Sullivan's pioneering blog on social and political issues (which, under its title "The Daily Dish," was early on excerpted weekly in The Washington Times), the sometimes controversial Gay Patriot, the alternative views found at the Independent Gay Forum, the arts criticism of Tim Hulsey, and even, for amusement, Black Velvet Bruce Li. There are many more, of course, and I don't wish to discourage visits to other blogs of interest. (Law professor Dale Carpenter listed a number of gay conservative and libertarian blogs in his syndicated column about a year ago.)
LGBT online users also visit networking Web sites like Myspace and Friendster more than their straight counterparts, according to the Harris survey.
Twenty-seven percent of LGBT adults in the country who are online said they visit the video-sharing site YouTube.com, compared with 22 percent of heterosexuals. Twenty percent were more likely to visit Craigslist.org, compared with 13 percent of heterosexuals.
The national survey of 2,451 adults over 18 in the United States, conducted Nov. 13-20, 2006, showed that gays spend more overall time online than straight people.
In commenting on the Harris Interactive findings, Bob Witeck -- whose consulting firm does research on consumer trends in the gay and lesbian market -- noted:
"Gays and lesbians have shown their need to build and maintain an early and major presence on the Web that translates directly into significant market opportunities. Social networks also appear to be second nature for the gay and lesbian consumer."
It may be worth speculating whether, because of the "outsider" status of most gay men and lesbians -- a part of, but always apart from, the larger society -- they are "early adopters" of new communications technology. I know that I was using AOL as early as 1993 and quickly adapted to the rapidly growing opportunities of the web, at least as a research tool and as a way of keeping in touch with friends and colleagues through email. The Internet has also been a vital element in the capacity of gay youth to overcome the sense of isolation that earlier generations felt. It has been, in many instances, a genuine lifeline for gay and lesbian adolescents, especially those who live far from urban centers and the vibrant gay communities found there.
As with other fashions and fads -- not to say either the Internet or blogging are fads -- and social trends that are initiated in gay enclaves, it will not be long before straight people catch up. By that time, the LGBT folks will be on to something new.