Most of us spend a lot of time online, be it for work, socializing and keeping in touch or simply to release some ‘tension’…ahem… Sometimes we just go online for aimless chat and a good chuckle. When it comes to gay online forums, then nothing beats the king (make that Queen) of all gay forums…Datalounge.

The landing page for Datalounge says it all: “the DataLounge – We’ve been serving up this steaming pile of Gay celebrity gossip, politics and pointless bitchery since 1995 (were you even born in 1995?) Go ahead. You know you want to…” And then to enter the forum you click on these legendary words: “Join the Bitchfest”. After a crappy or long day, these are three of the best words in the English language: Join. the. Bitchfest.

This is no real-time chatroom or place to get a date or sexy hook-up. The format for Datalounge is very simple, even prosaic: it’s just topic after topic on anything and everything in endless threads. Within each thread are comments to the topic, sometimes hundreds of comments. The site is anything but flashy and wears its mid-1990s roots on its sleeve. And it’s not all gossip. Be warned, guys – there are no gays more merciless and tongue-lashing than the motley contributors known as Dataloungers!

And that’s why I love the site. There’s something deliciously fun about people letting rip on topics and attacking each other without mercy. Very little is not allowed on DL (as it’s well-known) and, best of all, profanity reigns supreme. I’m not sure about you, but the prissy political correctness of social waterholes like Facebook and Twitter gets so boring. All chat forums seems sterile compared to DL. Sometimes one has to set the ‘F’ and ‘C’ words free, I say! Especially when there are pissed off gay men around! And nearly everyone who posts is anonymous, by the way – and we all know how liberating that can be for certain people and discussions online…

What is very refreshing is that the topics for discussion threads are as varied as Ronaldo’s ‘male friends’. Current Datalounge topics range from the political (“What can Hillary do NOW to make a come back?”), to men (“Hot Middle Eastern Dudes, Part 3”), to breaking news (“Tyree King, 13, killed in Columbus officer-involved shooting”), to the nostalgic (“Product brands no one remembers but you”), to the personal (“Secrets you wish you’d never told”), back to men again (“Best Bubble Butts 2016”) to the downright pornographic (“Was There Ever a Golden Age of Gay Porn?”). One of my all-time favourites was a recent thread called “The date was great, but then, you visited your date’s home…” Countless guys described their dates from hell – I found myself giggling uncontrollably at 3am as I read dating horror story after horror story! All my worst dates and hook-ups paled in comparison – it was wonderful catharsis!

Yes, Dataloungers can be a vicious bunch, with ‘OPs’ (the original posters of a thread) and so-called ‘fraus’ (posters suspected of being bored and fussy housewives, usually from the Midwest) often suffering the most vitriolic attacks. But that’s why I love it. Datalounge is the one place that proves to me time and again just how diverse and eclectic the gay world can be. Datalounge embraces them all, from ‘eldergays’ in their caftans to queeny, hissing Millennials and ordinary ‘Joes’ who just happen to like sex with men, not to mention the militant lesbians, the supportive straight women, the movie lovers, the politically agitated, the porn addicts, the rich gays, the poor gays and the downright hilarious. And it often does so with a sting, with wit and even some compassion.

It may be a relic of the Internet’s long-gone Wild West days, but it deserves our support because, in its own, flawed way, Datalounge is us.