There’s Something about Grindr…
HARRY PRANCE finds himself wishing for some good old-fashioned sex or possibly even something else.
Something has been grinding my gears of late. If you are gay or friends with many gay or bisexual men, or maintain a bizarrely close focus on the antics of a certain Mr Fry, you have almost certainly heard about Grindr but, for those who haven’t, please let me explain.
Grindr is a gay and bisexual male meeting app – it allows you to create a profile to which you can add a photo and detail a range of vital statistics including your age, height, weight, ethnicity (perhaps most uncomfortably), what you’re looking for and a short blurb. Once you’ve done the above, you can then view all the Grindr users in your immediate vicinity, detailing their distance from you with an accuracy of 65 metres, with whom you can then chat – so far so kosher. However, what is apparent, from the name for a start and then from practice, is that the main purpose of Grindr is distinctly sexual.
Now I’m no prude and don’t (as an ex-user) take issue with the sexuality of Grindr in itself. However the uncomfortable reality is that Grindr supports and reinforces certain enduring myths about gay people which caused me, and I imagine, if I am not as much of a freak as I sometimes suspect, others a level of distinct personal discomfort. I have heard multiple defences of Grindr and while I appreciate that, on some level, it is a valid means for gay people to meet, particularly in remote or conservative areas, its intrinsic issues cannot be avoided.
One of the most pervasive and dangerous myths about homosexuals, particularly dear to middle England in all its glory, is that gay people are abnormally sexually charged and wile away our time with a bizarrely extended list of anonymous lovers, divorced from any conception of monogamy. Sometimes, I cannot but help finding myself wishing this were true. In my experience though, gay people’s attitudes to monogamy, are reflective of the spread of attitudes within the straight community or why the great drive for equal marriage?
The issue with Grindr is that it perpetuates this fallacy every time you log on and a delightful range of characters, some with entertaining profile names along the lines of HORNYTOPFUNNOW, force themselves upon you. Usually they’re without profile pictures or they choose simply to focus on erotically charged, faceless torsos and when they happen to speak to you pleasantries rarely extend beyond: NSA (No Strings Attached) fun now? Now I am not suggesting that homosexual people should adhere to some distant straight norm of sexuality. If emotionally detached sex gets you going, go for it, but it seems bizarre to me that the large group of men I know who use Grindr who are fundamentally seeking a long term partner should entangle themselves in this discourse.
Beyond that, any sensible person cannot help but question its health and safety implications. I have been frequently asked not to use a condom and, beyond that, the plain idea of ending the night drunk in a pub car park because of the some half hearted flattery from a disembodied profile is not only distasteful but a bit, admittedly understandably, thick. Is it beyond contemplation that an only vaguely committed gay basher could have set up a profile? There’s a big difference between the guy you get off with on a Wednesday night with whom you probably share some mutual friends and the completely unconnected man you have tipsily consented to offer your body too.
One of the most impressive and effective tools of the LGBT+ movement has been the drive for coming out and the open declaration of sexuality and gender/sex identity. It has been consistently confirmed that bigotry is much harder to maintain when LGBT+ people are not another but rather a tangible reality within your sphere of existence. Grindr provides a means by which a closeted lifestyle can be maintained: expression of sexuality becomes achievable within a secretive environment. The closeted Grindr user is not a rare occurrence – I have regularly been questioned as to my college and even my school so as to make sure that we have never met before. While I can sympathise with the difficulties of these men, I can’t happily allow myself to help them to continue the repressed and self-harming lifestyle I once lived.
If Grindr fulfils you, carry on at it but you know what, if you can’t reconcile what it represents with your own beliefs, I’m single, 194 cm, about 80 kg and looking for whatever doesn’t leave me feeling cheapened and dissatisfied.