These remaining ones suggested that gay, lesbian, and bisexual participants did not use the Internet in ways that strongly diverged from heterosexual users. We found that the Internet not only provides users with a means of identifying available partners while shielding them from prejudices, but also provides a venue for virtual communities and sexual exploration. Using narratives from both homosexuals and heterosexuals for illustration, we briefly explore these three dominant themes. Because many respondents who used personals sites also visited chat rooms and were sometimes vague about where they met the partner they were describing, we draw on their virtual encounters more generally; we did not draw from the few narratives from respondents who clearly indicated they were referring only to persons met via adult sites. Identifying Available Partners For both heterosexuals and GLBs, the Internet provided a means of avoiding the pitfalls inherent in relying solely on local, real world venues to meet other people. A potential romantic partner who one meets in a public place may disclose his or her goals and preferences gradually over the course of multiple dates; users of online personals can avoid over-investing time and energy in pursuit of less-than-ideal matches.
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