When asked if the company’s religious roots would deter homosexuals from the site, eHarmony CEO Greg Waldorf said, “Our mission is to help our users find great long-term relationships,” adding, “We started in the opposite-sex market, which is where all of our experience was. That doesn’t mean we were against something.”.
He must be tickled pink to be operating a site that caters to The Something We Were Totally Not Against In the First Place, Even Though We Can’t Bring Ourselves To Say It (Seriously We Love You People).
I went to the site, and there are two things that made an immediate impression. First, there’s a huge disclaimer that reads: “The company’s patented Matching Compatibility System was developed on the basis of research involving heterosexual married couples. The company has not conducted similar research on same-sex relationships.”
I think I get the legal reasons for doing this, but it’s a sort of aggressive right-off-the-bat othering that probably isn’t going to warm the cockles of the gay little target audience’s hearts.
More troubling, though, are the photos on the splash page. The site toggles through a rotating display of seven pictures, five of which are generically attractive singles. The other two are ostensibly supposed to suggest intimacy… one is a close-up picture of two male hands clasped, with a beach in the background, while the other is a sort-of picture of two women (facing AWAY FROM THE CAMERA), one of them with her hand on the other’s back. Actually, scratch that, I can’t see her hand. The photo is cropped so that there’s just a vague suggestion that one woman’s hand might be resting chastely below her partner’s bra line and above the waist.
I’m not arguing for hotter-n-heavier pictures (though it’s worth noting that the photo choices *are* a marked departure from eHarmony’s splash, which features het couple Monica & Josh prone on a bed, him behind her, his arms encircling her, their fingers interlaced, her other wedding-banded hand resting on his wrist). It’s just alarming that the creators of a gay dating site feel the need to disembody their poster-gays. The idea of two male hands touching or two lesbians embracing isn’t… embraced. It’s sanitized and dehumanized, and quite literally defaced. No gay couples, no same-sex people touching one another and looking INTO the camera, no one owning and personifying the healthy, happy gay relationships that the site is supposed to be shilling.
So, I’m sure most people don’t believe we should expect much from a gay dating site that germinated as a part of a discrimination lawsuit settlement. This is the thing. I don’t expect, but I do *hope*. And I kind of feel like something that doesn’t reinforce an outdated shame and alienation culture shouldn’t be too much to hope for.