I never got into reading the “missed connections” sections on Craigslist or anywhere else—but as of a few days ago, Princeton acquired its own, and now I’m transfixed. There’s something about knowing the locations and the events and the culture driving, to a certain extent, all the postings that makes them that much more engrossing. Of course, I’m particularly struck by the postings listed as male seeking male or female seeking female—postings like this:
male seeking male – posted about 1 hour ago
I always see you walking around Frist. Tall, handsome, nice glasses, very well-dressed, you even had a purple scarf on once. Are you…different? Let me know.
Reader, what a flashback to another era. “Are you… different?” What a strange question to ask in 2009, when the word “gay” and the acronym “LGBT” grace the front pages of our newspapers and the internet has educated the overwhelming majority of all of us. What a seemingly unnecessary anachronism.
But the fact it was asked, of course, suggests to me that maybe the euphemism is not an anachronism, and maybe in this particular place and time and culture it’s still necessary. Of course, that’s in some ways problematic, and in some ways speaks to the ghettoization and marginalization of the Princeton queer community; it speaks to how many people here are still in the closet. But as you might know, I have a passion for the language of secret codes, of double meanings, of hidden significances, that once characterized a largely underground culture. And although I am sure there are few people reading Princeton missed connections who won’t draw the same conclusions from “different” that I did, this anonymous posting into the void is so weirdly reminiscent of so many others of years past, long before there was an internet on which to post such things, back when there were only word of mouth and nonvocal signals and maybe if you were lucky a gay paper or magazine.
I am reminded, once again, that just when you think times have changed… they haven’t.