Human Sexuality and Anthropology Interest Group
Invited - Oral Presentation Session
Contrary to many fictional and journalistic portrayals, much sex work occurs along a spectrum of intermittent and facultative engagement in sex for money or other goods and services, as well as many forms of compensated dating. This paper examines various forms of compensated dating among younger gay men in Prague, Czech Republic, in the early 2000s. These ranged from occasional cadging of drinks, through requests for "loans" that were unlikely ever to be repaid, to seeking out older, wealthier, often foreign (German, Austrian, British, or American) boyfriends. Framing some financial transactions as gifts served psychological and social functions of normalizing behaviors that could potentially be construed as sex work, while also meeting practical needs of the young men and emotional needs--wanting a boyfriend, wanting financial and social security, and so on. This draws on the author’s larger ethnographic project on gay men's identities in Prague, including person-centered interviewing, with a group gay-identified men over several years. It examining the experiences of gay-identified young adult (18 to early 30s) men in Prague involved in homosexual commercial sex and some of the problems they face, and considers the relationship of compensated sex to other aspects of local gay scenes. The paper consider both psychological and classical anthropological aspects of gift-giving and reciprocity as they pertain in sexual relationships.