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August 8, 2008

Racial Diversity on Manhunt, Adam4Adam: Atlanta Edition
FILED UNDER: "Gay Men's Health & Culture"
TAGS: gay male culturegay men's healthhooking up onlineInternetthe South
By Trevor

Following on the heels of my last post on the racial diversity of online profiles in San Francisco on Manhunt and Adam4Adam, I bring you the Atlanta edition -- hot off the presses! I wanted to move away from San Francisco and find a major metropolitan area in which the majority ethnic group was non-white. Atlanta is a good fit -- as you'll see below, the city is majority-Black.

Given this shift in demographics, I was interested to see if the same patterns would arise on the websites as I described in my last post -- namely, that the racial diversity of online profiles declines to near-zero as their reported age increases. As I said last time, caution is urged: profiles are not people! Keep that in mind. The data below was collected from the 27,348 profiles on Adam4Adam, and 8,634 profiles on Manhunt that were listed in Atlanta Metro. Let's begin with some overall demographics.

Overview: ATL versus Manhunt versus Adam4Adam

Over 60% of Atlanta's population is Black, while just around one-third are white (source). This makes Atlanta one of the very few major metro areas in the country that are majority-Black. As you can see in the graph below, there are very small Latino and Asian-Pacific Islander communities -- the city is mostly Black and White:

Atlanta General Population:
raceatloverall.gif

And -- just as I mentioned last time -- measuring what the demographics of Atlanta's gay/bi/queer/MSM male population is very difficult. We'll again take a leap of faith here and say that we would expect that the men who have sex with men in Atlanta are probably racially distributed along similar lines to the city's general population.

Let's begin with Manhunt. As I indicated last time, Manhunt seems to appeal to a largely white population. You'll remember that in San Francisco, where there are strong API and Latino communities, over 70% of Manhunt profiles were white. In Atlanta, that trend continues, but is even more extreme. While over 60% of Atlanta's population is Black, only 8% of Manhunt profiles were listed as such. A whopping 81.5% of profiles were white:

Manhunt Atlanta Profiles Racial Demographics:
racemanhunt.gif

While the over-representation of white profiles in San Francisco didn't particularly surprise me, I found the gross under-representation of Black Manhunt profiles in Atlanta pretty shocking. Wowzer! It's pretty extreme, and is a strong indicator of how different websites can form totally different sexual ecologies. In contrast, as I indicated last time, Adam4Adam (A4A) has a history of being a predominantly African-American website in many cities. Because of this, I expected A4A in Atlanta to be absolutely brimming with Black guys -- especially after seeing how white the profiles were on Manhunt. I was actually surprised to find that the percentage of profiles that were listed as Black on Adam4Adam (62.2%) was nearly identical to the city's demographics (61.4%):

Adam4Adam Atlanta Profiles Racial Demographics:
racea4a.gif

Like I mentioned last time, many folks in the "Other" category would probably be counted as Black in a census. There seems to be a curious trend among younger African-American guys on Adam4Adam opting to identify as "Mix" instead of "Black." I'll talk about that more later in the section on age.

Race and Age: Age Goes Up, Diversity Goes Down

Last time, I was really shocked to find that in San Francisco, the racial diversity of profiles among age groups decreased dramatically as age went up. I still don't have access to general population data for Atlanta that crosses age with race. But I still would expect that racial diversity does not shift all that much across age groups -- though it certainly probably does to some extent. Increased mortality among African-Americans due to the higher rates of poverty / homelessness / access to health care / etc surely have an impact in Atlanta.

But -- just as last time -- the shift in diversity on these sites as age increases is too dramatic to be explained by those kinds of trends. Let's start with Manhunt. As you'll see below, in the 18-21 year old age group, well over two-thirds of the profiles on Manhunt are labeled as white -- already white folks over over-represented. By the time you reach the 34-37 age group, that number has gone up to over 80%. The oldest age group is almost 95% white:

Percentage of White Profiles in Atlanta on Manhunt, By Age Group:
racemanhuntwhttime.gif

I've separated the data for "profiles of color" into a second graph, since their numbers are so low that including them in the same graph would make it difficult to see their numbers. As you can see, while 16% of the profiles in the 18-21 age group are labeled as Black, that percentage quickly declines as age increases:

Percentage of "Profiles of Color" in Atlanta on Manhunt, By Age Group:
racemanhuntpoctime.gif

I expected this shift to be less dramatic on Adam4Adam -- since they had a larger percentage of "profiles of color" overall. Yet, while the representations of African-American profiles is much stronger on Adam4Adam (and overall in line with the city's demographics), I found yet again evidence of declining racial diversity. As you can see, there is almost a perfect inverse relationship between Black and White profiles in Atlanta -- it's kind of amazing.

Percentage of Profile's Ethnicity on A4A, By Age Group:
racea4atime.gif

If you look at the raw numbers of Black and White profiles by age group, you can get a better picture for what's happening here. The raw numbers of white profiles continues to climb until it peaks at the 38-41 age group. In contrast, the raw numbers of black profiles peaks in the 26-29 age group. It seems possible that white MSM may actually be getting online to look for sex later in life -- which seems totally counter intuitive. But that's a stretch of a conclusion from the data given. You'd need a longitudinal study to show that, where you follow the same folks over time. But take a look:

Raw Number of Black, White Profiles on A4A, By Age Group:
racea4atime.gif

Curiously, while the numbers are totally out of sync for most age groups, they align and drop in similar numbers after the 42-45 age group.

Conclusions

As I said last time, it's hard to draw any conclusions from this data. What surprises me perhaps the most is that I found evidence again of the trend of declining racial diversity as age increases in a city that's majority-Black. Research is desperately needed to understand exactly what's happening here!

PERMALINK | Posted at 3:43 PM | Post a Comment (5)

5 Comments

Ugh, Trevor. Thank you so much for posting this. I've lived in Atlanta for a few years now, and I think about this a lot. I'm pretty involved in queer and anti-racist activism, and it's frustrating that intersectional identities are so under-recognized. This also includes men with disabilities, trans/genderqueer men. Anyway, great job. Major kudos.

Jeremy G. | October 4, 2008 5:19 PM

My pleasure, Jeremy! I'm so happy that the data was useful for you. I hope to continue along these lines in developing this kind of "Profile Analysis." It's very interesting, I think! It's not immediately clear what kinds of activist implications it would have "on the ground." For instance, is it a bad thing for men of color to not be using the Internet in as large of numbers? Would a solution be to encourage more men of color to log-on? Or are they not logging on because of experienced racism online? Or because of a lack of reliable access to a computer with an internet connection? I think we need some qualitative work here to better understand whats fueling these numbers before jumping to any conclusions.

Trevor Hoppe | October 4, 2008 5:55 PM

The population ratio in Baltimore is the same as in Atlanta. There are defenitely more whites on Manhunt and more blacks on adam4adam. Did you ever think that Manhunt offers only limited services to free members while adam4adam is a completely free service ? Is there any relationship between this fact and racial ratio on these sites ?

XYZ | October 20, 2008 8:11 PM

Yes, I think this can account for some of the racial disparities. But I think there's something more interesting happening probably about sexual cultures / early adopters of websites that may in fact have a greater impact that simply cost / economic buying power. But this is purely speculative. We need some good ethnographic analysis here.

Trevor Hoppe | October 21, 2008 2:02 AM

Another explanation might be that the older black people are using other websites. For example, bgclive.com is 90% black, and the rest is white and latino and others. Older black men may still be looking for sex online, but just not in the two places you were researching: adam4adam and manhunt.

B | November 2, 2008 3:04 PM


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