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The strange case of dating apps at a gay resort: hyper-local and virtual-physical leisure

Oskaras Vorobjovas-Pinta (Tasmanian School of Business and Economics, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia)
Isaac Jonathan Dalla-Fontana (University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia)

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Article publication date: 17 May 2018

Issue publication date: 1 November 2019




The purpose of this paper is to report novel information about the use of gay apps by the patrons of an exclusively gay resort in Queensland, Australia. This novel research environment facilitates an understanding of the embeddedness of gay dating apps within contemporary gay culture and community and the spatial reorientation that comes alongside the juxtaposition of physical and digital geographies.


An ethnographic study was conducted at the resort, and qualitative data presented here are drawn from semi-structured interviews with 27 gay-identifying male patrons of the resort. Critical ethnography provided beneficial access to situated perspectives and realities.


These data indicate that gay apps remain a pervasive way of making connections, even in an environment where common homosexuality is a reasonable expectation and where open self-expression is permitted and even encouraged. This complicates assumptions that gay apps’ emergence was in response to a need for privacy or anonymity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in wider, straight society.


This paper reports the results of an ethnographic survey conducted in a highly novel research environment and particularly seeks to address divergent experiences of social and cultural change by LGBT people, including generational divides. It has value in demonstrating clear differences, ambiguities and mixed implications of gay apps and their relationship with changing LGBT spaces.



The authors would like to thank The Institute for the Study of Social Change, University of Tasmania for a financial support through a PhD Writing Up Fellowship.


Vorobjovas-Pinta, O. and Dalla-Fontana, I.J. (2019), "The strange case of dating apps at a gay resort: hyper-local and virtual-physical leisure", Tourism Review, Vol. 74 No. 5, pp. 1070-1080.



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