Sex, drugs & religion

When creating a profile you will be asked to state your gender and your sexual orientation. That has some interesting reasons and some important implications and consequences.

We have seen many cases in which people felt a strong need to explain things about their lifestyle, and their sexual orientation, and did so in their profile. Also you can’t promote equality without promoting openness about it. Having just a “male or female” box to click on the form forces a significant portion of the user base to have to try to “fit” within those boxes, and having to explain things. So we decided to bring to the couch surfing world something that is already very common and well known in many other kinds of web sites: Separating gender from sexual orientation.

That is not an issue in some countries and some even welcome a site where they can openly state their sexual orientation, but in some countries posting that kind of information can mean losing your job, prison, even getting you killed. To some people, while they may identify as gay or lesbian, putting it on a website is dangerous and against the law in some countries (Russia comes to mind). That is the kind of world we live in.

So users will have the option to state their real gender or just pick from “male” or “female”. They can state their real sexual orientation or just leave the field empty and that field altogether won’t show on the profile. The same goes with religion: You can state your religion if that is important to you, or you can leave it empty if it is not. You can also leave it empty if stating your religion can get you in trouble. Same goes with drug use, which is legal in some places, tolerated in others, outright illegal anywhere else.

And finally, we are going to allow users to switch off certain information from their site, temporarily, for when they decide to travel to certain countries. You may switch off the info that you are gay, for example, before going to a country where it is illegal (too many to list here). You may switch off that you have been visiting Israel before you travel to an Arab country. Or you can switch your gender to a traditional one before visiting an unenlightened jurisdiction.