I mentioned in my first post that the first gay person I met (and outed myself to) was through IRC, so that makes it my first eyeball or EB. This was way back in 1999 and the guy I met was this shy, kinda nerdy teenager and I let him jerk me off. Anyway, I stumbled onto the local gay chat rooms out of curiosity. I already knew about IRC way before my first EB and it was during a lazy afternoon in September 1999 alone in my room that I decided to log on to #gay and to try to chat with other non-straight guys. Of course the room was filled with people from all over the world but I noticed an obviously Pinoy guy based on his nickname (which I don't recall anymore). I did a simple whois on him and I saw that he was logged in the #gaymanila channel. The rest as they say is history.
I guess that a large number of us had our first encounter of our secret world via IRC. Way, way before Guys4Men, Yahoo! Messenger, eGroups, Friendster and blogs, IRC was there to give people like us a discreet way to secretly meet other guys. I would assert that it is the pioneer Internet outlet for us gay and bi guys. I still log on to IRC from time to time and still see that the chat rooms are still quite active despite the rise of social websites like Guys4Men. I guess nothing beats the real-time nature of talking to other guys that IRC provides. The old #gaymanila channel is no longer active and it was replaced by the #bi-manila and #salsalan on both the Undernet and Dalnet IRC networks. I still remember the time when there was an impression that the chatters on bi/gay Undernet channels are "snobbish" while those on Dalnet are "jologs." Nowadays, this distinction is largely gone and many people actually log on to both networks at the same time (and spew the same personals ads on all four channels).
If you're still into IRC chatting, here's a tip that I would recommend: if you're using mIRC to chat in IRC (note: mIRC is the application used to access the IRC Internet service; they are not the same thing, though most people assume so) and you're using Mozilla Firefox to browse the Web, try the ChatZilla extension instead of mIRC. I've been using ChatZilla for a few years now and I find it much better than mIRC. One advantage is that ChatZilla is immune from the stupid scripts that plague mIRC users. Another is that since ChatZilla is integrated into Firefox, you get some nifty advantages such as middle-clicking on URLs in ChatZilla will launch that URL into a new tab in Firefox and these URLs are also colored such that you can tell whether you have visited it or not, just like in most normal web pages.
Since five years ago, I haven't been chatting on IRC as much as I used to. I guess I must've met more than a hundred guys from my early years spent chatting. (There were times when I had an EB every week!) Nowadays, I still log on from time to time and get to have a few EBs, but I have since ventured into more diverse ways of meeting other people. But if you're still very much in the closet, IRC is still an excellent way to get to talk to other guys since you only reveal as much of yourself as you are comfortable with.
So, have you ever chatted on IRC? Do you still chat there frequently or as much as before? Tell us some of your more interesting chat-related encounters and stories.