Because of this, my community relies heavily on the internet for dating – a secret but vibrant world that’s just a click away.I started dating online about four years ago at the insistence of a close friend.Ko Lin Thu*, a 23-year-old, said he used the internet as his first window to gay Yangon about seven years ago.But back then smart phones were much less common than they are now so gay men relied on internet cafés. We didn’t get too specific because not many men did this.” He eventually met a man – sitting two seats away from him at the internet café – who he began to date.And at this time – around the year 2000 – a SIM card cost thousands of US dollars, making ongoing communication almost impossible.“If I found a guy I liked and he felt the same way, we met only two or three times in a month.” But Ko Andrew does have some fond memories of pre-social media meet-ups.As a gay man in Yangon, there are very few places for me to meet fellow gay men.
“One time, the guy I met for a date stole my money,” he said. Ko Kyaw Htet said that some users with fake accounts will only show more salacious photos if money is transferred.
We built the relationship step by step.” Although times and technology have changed, the secrecy remains.
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I’m still not certain what dating is like in the straight community – but this was ridiculously complicated!
Talking with other gay men in Yangon, I have heard many similar stories.