Surfing to an alternative self: Internet technology and sexuality among "married straight homosexual men"

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This article presents a theoretical and empirical discussion of the way in which computer technologies (the internet) influence the production of sexuality, sexual fantasies, and specific sexual behaviors. This discussion is based on the case study of an Israeli website for sexual encounters, which its users say has brought out (or enabled) a specific sexuality that would not have emerged were it not for the new technology. This article focuses on a particular population from among the sites users: married men who surf the site to find men with whom to have one-off sexual encounters, and who report a positive experience of "life in the closet." A total of 34 men were interviewed, 6 face-to-face and 28 in online interviews. The findings include three main accounts: (1) most of the interviewees said that the new technology (the website) enabled them to invent a new existential category, that of "married straight men who sometimes have sexual encounters with other men." This category is seen as enabling a new sexuality, or a sexuality that would not have been enacted were it not for the internet; (2) the interviewees spoke of how "life in the closet," and in particular entering and exiting it (which was called a "zigzag sexuality" or the "revolving doors of the closet"), creates an experience of a vital sexuality that fits in with their marriage to a woman and their life as a "straight" man; (3) many interviewees explained how the technology enabled them to keep their sexuality secret, where the secrecy itself was said to create a unique sexual desire. The discussion section shows how the new technology enables individuals to invent a new sexuality, to enact unique sexual fantasies, and to maintain an alternative self, or alternative components of their concept of self.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSymbolic Interaction and New Social Media
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)9781783509331
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameStudies in Symbolic Interaction
ISSN (Print)0163-2396


  • Alternative self
  • Internet
  • Self
  • Sexuality
  • Virtuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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