Ko Andrew said there were some clubs and cafés where gay people would meet in secret but these were very few in number.
Such was the small size of a Yangonite’s gay universe.
And at this time – around the year 2000 – a SIM card cost thousands of US dollars, making ongoing communication almost impossible.
“If I found a guy I liked and he felt the same way, we met only two or three times in a month.” But Ko Andrew does have some fond memories of pre-social media meet-ups.
“I have no problem meeting dates using my real Facebook account because I am proud of who I am and being gay doesn’t harm anybody,” he said.
Alongside Facebook, the gay social media app Grindr is also starting to become a popular way for gay men to meet in Myanmar.
“Their home is their territory, if something bad happens, I might get trouble.” Ko Kyaw Htet* is all too familiar with these kinds of problems.
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“I had such nice conversations online with a guy, but when we met, I immediately learnt he used a fake photo.” “After that first experience, I now check out my date from afar the first time we meet, and if he is not the same person from the photo, I leave!
” Ko Kyaw Htet echoed other gay men in saying that it’s very difficult to meet a serious partner through online dating apps.
He helped me set up a fake Facebook account to explore gay Yangon from my mobile phone. He asked me about my age, location and different sexual preferences such as my ‘role’. Without any sexual education offered to me by my school or my family, it was pretty overwhelming.
But soon enough I had many friends on my new Facebook account and my conversations varied from the personal to the more risqué.