Queer people used a variety of such websites at a time when there was a strong stigma associated with finding romantic partners on the internet.
Today the majority of same-sex couples meet online.
The bill will amend the "Good Samaritan" clause in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields websites from liability of content posted by its users.
Without it, it's likely that the social-networking-driven nature of the internet as we know it today would not exist.
This legislation purports to stem the rising tide of online sex trafficking, even as groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union claim it will, in fact, "harm the very people it is intended to protect." And free-speech advocates view the amendment to Section 230 as an "unambiguous chilling of free speech," according to the Center for Democracy & Technology.
But for the majority of LGBT people who have used Craigslist for decades, the deletion of the personals section amounts to the shuttering of yet another queer space - one that provided a free and accessible cyber haven for many wishing to explore their sexuality and gender."People would look at the ads and be shocked by how sexual they were," said syndicated advice columnist Dan Savage, who also has a live "Savage Love" podcast in Madison, Wisconsin.
President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill when it reaches his desk."It facilitated human connections that were not always exploitative or dehumanizing - I know people who are in 10- and 15-year relationships that began on Craigslist, that began with a hookup."When I asked Savage what impact losing services such as Craigslist personal ads could have on the queer community at large, he paused and said "it's just hard to put into words."For a generation that came of age with the internet, Craigslist and its contemporaries were queer spaces where people could "tiptoe out of the closet" without having to risk outing themselves, Savage said."Apps and Craigslist turned everyone's apartments, if they wished, into a bathhouse - cruising moved online."Craigslist was, of course, not the first such "bathhouse of the internet," as Salon so dubbed AOL in 1999.That incognito world, complete with its own erotic lingo ("str8," "BBW," "dom," "BB," etc.), has given Reynolds a virtual window into the intimate lives of strangers."Most of my friends are queer," said Reynolds, who also identifies as queer."We were amazed at how many straight-identifying men and women were seeking same-sex hookups on the site's sex forums."This phenomenon inspired Reynolds to conduct an analysis of hundreds of Craigslist personal ads.