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I was alone and gay in a conservative religious house—no gay bars, no gay people that I knew of for miles. At 17, I had no point of connection to my own gayness. That would be easy, and frankly, inaccurate. And while I understand the Personals section was shuttered in response to the passage of FOSTA —a bill meant to inhibit and protect people from sex trafficking—it still means saying goodbye to the place I learned to acknowledge, and start to love, my sexuality. Lowering the brightness to keep the glow from escaping the room, I would look, and I would wish.

Click, click, click. Men seeking men. I wanted so badly to send a al: Is anybody there? It's easy to make fun of. It seems desperate, and a lot of times, it was.

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Those nights of carefully poking through personals would become the norm. I learned to delete my browser history with the care of a jewel thief—wanting to lift even my fingerprints from the keyboard, if I could. I wouldn't even go through with meeting someone until I was Living at home with my parents, after attending a school where you could count the of out students on two hands, I was certain this was it. No gay world existed.

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Not for me. One night, so frustrated by the one-way mirror I had made for myself, I posted an ad.

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I hoped. Several men responded in kind. Or crassness. Many of them were very respectable by the typical professional measure— cops, teachers, security officers. Then I got an from Tom. He was short, early forties, and he wanted to meet me. He did some boring insurance thing for a living that, at the time, assuaged my concern he might be a serial killer.

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Deep down, I knew even then that none of these men had bad intentions. Perhaps they were bad men! But the intentions? Clear as the Connecticut River, where I went alone sometimes to think, to imagine a life where there were other gay people. Other men, seeking men. I came up with a convincing excuse to meet Tom: I was going to rendezvous with a long-lost high school friend, one whose standing with my mother was good.

It was an hour and a half drive, which now, living in Manhattan, feels like complete insanity. But then, it felt doable, worthwhile, for the man who sent me three blurry photos, two compliments, and the certainty that he would have a bottle of wine. When I got to Tom's, my breath hitched in my chest.

I recall killing the engine and seeing him at the door. He was very handsome, maybe more handsome than his photo. His niece had drawn a picture with crayon, which lay on the marble countertop in his kitchen. He poured two glasses of white wine and asked to play the piano for me.

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I saw his penny collection on his bedside table. After a few months, I did not think about Tom much. I forget if I visited him again, truthfully, but that one night would remain etched in my memory forever.

Before there was Grindr

In graduate school, I discovered Grindr and fell off Craigslist. At the time, I would have told you that I outgrew it out of a sense of pride. Unemployed in New York City after selling the same car I had driven to make that first trip—seven years later—I saw a filtered message on Facebook. It was from Tom. He wanted to know how I was doing. Just touching base!

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It was his style: kind, upbeat. And it felt good. We chatted a bit and I asked if I could interview him over the phone.

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He agreed. At the time I still believed in myself as a writer, as someone who could ferret out what was important and lay it bare. The way I knew how to close the door without creaking it. To have a tab open to hide. In case. I asked him what he remembered of that night. It shocked me, because I remembered it so clearly. How he had to go through the window.

How it was hurried and good and, well, that was that. I do not mourn the loss of Craigslist Personals as some kind of thing that meaningfully wove goodwill into the fabric of gay culture.

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But if this thing is going away, this is my way of saying thank you for giving a young gay man a place to go where he didn't have to feel alone. Here was a man, seeking a man. United States. Type keyword s to search. Today's Top Stories.

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