Disco. Brunch. Iced coffee. All loved by the gay community long before they became mainstream. Likewise, no celebration of a decade of dating apps would be complete without acknowledging that the LGBTQ+ community also raced to a different timeline.
The daddy of our contributions to the now ubiquitous swipe culture is the infamous Grindr, launched in 2009 and originally designed to coordinate get-togethers between like-minded gentlemen tired of chatting on glitchy websites or cocktail parties. at reduced prices in identical bars. The meteoric success of Grindr was not only due to the removal of various intermediaries from the dating world: it also answered a real need of the LGBTQ+ community.
Marginalized people have always found refuge on the internet, scurrying to secluded corners to be better understood by those who shared their distinctive struggles, flaws, or slightly corny hobbies, all of which might be mocked by the more conventionally attractive bantersaurus. who roam our school corridors and haunt the chain pubs on our high streets. The walled gardens of early login apps also offered protection. There was no chance of barking up the wrong tree, or the immediate fear of physical violence. The rules of engagement were crystal clear and almost unspoken: the only prerequisite for entry was that you understood why you were there.
In 2011, Grindr founder Joel Simkhai launched Blendr to include straight women and men, beating all-in-one apps like Tinder by a full year. “Are there women who want to semi-randomly meet and date men just because those men are good-looking and located close enough to them that it’s convenient to do so?” asked HuffPost in disbelief. To imagine! The answer was not really. Not yet.
While looking for sex on the internet wasn’t a new idea, Blendr has distanced itself from its yellow little brother and positioned itself as a “friendship” app, confusing straight people more used to making friends. on social networks as well as on specialized apps. Perhaps Tinder’s later success rested on being more outspoken about romantic intentions. Either way, Blendr was soon hijacked by gay and bisexual men looking out for… each other, with a veneer of respectability that Grindr’s reputation as a hit store didn’t offer.
Complaining about “app status” is now a rite of passage for everyone, and LGBTQ+ users have tested the ugliest side of virtual interactions: from scolding each other for asking for nudes without a decent prelude, or implore potential friends to “say more than hi,” to endure, then capture and share, racism, fetishization, fatphobia, transphobia, and ageism, to name a few. Calling out these behaviors may not have lasered them off, but there has been a definite shift toward kindness and an understanding that harmful creeps will not be tolerated.
Nostalgic romantics will tell you that shooting is best done in real life. A ritual meant to be performed in a pack, where chemistry can brew and sparks can erupt and any losers can be taken out by your support team. All the better if you are popular and live in a big city. Elsewhere, the LGBTQ+ scene is likely to be very small and underfunded, if it exists at all. Coming-of-age dramas are full of brash, snappy comers jumping on trains with all their stuff in a backpack, but for the timid and retired, the financially strained, or those perfectly happy in the provinces, it is not an option. The apps provided a space for those who were still curious about what was going on and might struggle with the cut and thrust of IRL courtship rituals.
Just as the creakiest wheels always get the oil, ripped torsos undoubtedly get the most attention, but dating apps still forge communities among those who don’t fit that aesthetic, and they’ve been a important place for anyone struggling with their sexuality. , or unable to live authentically publicly. Toxic assholes aside, there’s always been a sense that there’s someone for everyone, and specialist apps are adopting a “take me as you find me” attitude that may have been lacking in the actual interactions.
Away from the sneers of peers, people were more willing to try their hand. You could take your shot and, as long as you were respectful, hold your head high in the face of rejection. Listing your (harmless) likes and dislikes may seem cold and distant to the casual observer, but those that might otherwise have been overlooked have slowly come together.
For single people, or those who are less capable, less confident in their body, or less conventional, getting into the room in the first place has always been the hardest part. With dating apps, the bedroom came to you – and so, for once, you were lucky enough to own it. – Guardian
Justin Myers, aka the Guyliner, is the author of three novels, including The Fake-Up