How growing up with Grindr taught me an important lesson about dating

growing up with grindr learn lessons christian-sterk-218727-unsplash

It’s hard to imagine a world without Grindr.

Ten years ago the application appeared on the iPhone store, not just connecting every gay and bisexual in the area, but showing their distance. This concept is revolutionary.

Gone are the days where you have to measure someone’s every movement or deconstruct every sentence to spot a hint of same-sex attraction. It’s no longer necessary to head to a gay bar to try your luck. For every sexual need, the men in your vicinity are waiting, disembodied torsos and faces alike.

The app has existed for as long as I’ve been trying to get guys to look at me. I was 15 when Grindr was released in 2009. Even growing up in the days of the Internet Wild West, where no one thought twice about melting their family computers with megabytes of stolen music from Limewire, I’d never seen anything like it. The only online gay contact I experienced was lingering on forums with equally confused teenagers, or porn.

Diving in

When I turned 16, Grindr started to become the global phenomenon it is today. I downloaded it, eager to unlock a world of homosexuality.

This was my first real contact with the queer adult world and I was not ready for it.

It’s a Grindr tale as old as time, now. At the age of 16 (the legal age of consent in the UK), I was blindsided by penises. People asking me questions I had no idea the answer to. Am I into kink play? What WAS I looking for?

The words ‘masc4masc’ or ‘into straight-acting’ appeared on almost every profile, reinforcing the dangerous heteronormative idea already molded in my malleable brain. Open racism. Sexually aggressive words filling up my messages.

I didn’t know how to talk to guys in real life. Now I faced a world of readily available men. As a sexual teenager, the thought of having sex set off every positive signal in my brain; the thought of penetrating this confusing world shut them off. I was scared.

Was this how all gay men behaved?

At that stage in my life I was in the semi-out-of-the-closet phase: I knew I was gay but I hated myself for it. The world seemed aligned against me already as my peers got in opposite-sex relationships, marriage and kids in their future.

The stress of Grindr didn’t help.

Everything changed as I walked into Trafalgar Square in London for my first Pride. The streets exploded with a parade of sexy Spartans, gender non-confirming stars, and more gay men than I could ever imagine.

At one point, dozens of us stormed the fountains in Trafalgar Square. I kissed another boy, soaked to the bone, as police officers screamed at us to get out.

It was an absurd teenage idea of romance I could only dream about before. The app could never provide what real life delivered.

However, the problem is not every day is a Pride parade.

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Nights can be spent scrolling through Grindr | Photo: Damir Bosnjak on Unsplash

For past generations, the experience of coming into contact with a sexual adult world would be completely different. Maybe they went into a bar and faced that same head-on forwardness. But there were people of all different body types. And it’s so much easier to learn how to communicate in person than through the glass of a screen.

Online, it’s a mass of people at once. All demanding an idea of a man you might never be.

Into the adult world

As I got older, I started to realize the good Grindr could do. Society is shutting people off more than ever. Coming together in a world where people turn away from each other and towards their screens is a revelation.

As Travel Editor at Gay Star News, it lets me connect to guys as soon as I land at a destination; I can get recommendations of where to meet people, of great bars and where to avoid. Also, sometimes, hook ups.

Getting familiar with this app as an adult presented some unique challenges. I got catfished in my first year of university. When he opened the door I received a very important life lesson in a) Google reverse image search and b) very swift escapes.

It’s also produced some universal problems: so many people, myself included, are absolutely terrible at talking to guys in public spaces. I can’t help but feel if I practiced this growing up instead of messaging men behind a computer screen my throat wouldn’t still close up and my tongue stumble over all my unfunny jokes.

Growing up with Grindr

Growing up with Grindr is a strange experience. Most of the time, Grindr is a sexual playground. We don’t need that when we’re teenagers. Learning from my own life, the responsible thing to do is wall it off from yourself until you’re at least 23; the age at which people even begin to grasp the enormity and annoyance of being an adult.

For all its faults, the app is a tool of liberation. It can be a lifeline for those not as privileged to live in a country with as liberal attitudes as my own. For others, it can let them connect in an increasingly less intimate world. Grindr is also launching its Kindr intiative, in response to the criticism of the racist and femme-phobic culture cultivated on the app. Time will tell if it can help.

Grindr may bring people together for good or bad fucks; it could help you meet the love of your life. But we might need to learn the lessons of growing up with this app and protect the generation coming up.

We shouldn’t be teaching another generation to admire strict body types or heteronormative behaviors. Nor should they put up with unsolicited, unwanted messages. Most importantly, maybe we should all learn that nothing quite beats a connection in real life.

Tom is the Travel Editor at Gay Star News and can be found on Instagram and Twitter.

See also: 

How dating apps actually empowered me to be my best self

This is why it’s so important to have realistic gay sex in literature

One in two Grindr users believe they’ll find their one true love

Author: Tom Capon

The post How growing up with Grindr taught me an important lesson about dating appeared first on Gay Star News.

Here’s how to get onto England’s PrEP trial

a close up shot of a Middle Ages man with a beard and glasses. he is looking directly into the camera

When the England PrEP IMPACT Trial opened in October 2017, there was a tidal-wave of people rushing to get one of the 10,000 places on the Trial.

Given this is the only current way of being able to get free PrEP through the NHS in England, it’s no surprise that many of the Trial’s clinics were full in under a year.

After much lobbying, advocacy and cajoling, the Trial is now set to release up to a 13,000 further places, with around half of those places being in London. If you, or someone who know, are thinking about getting on the Trial, then here are the top things you should know.

Why are we waiting?

Although up to 13,000 new trial places will become available there will still be a wait for a place for most people. Each clinic will have an allocated number of places – but will have to stagger recruitment. Why? Because few clinics will be able to cope with a big influx of trial participants all in one go.

Get on a list

There’s no central sign-up for the trial – each recruiting clinic will have their own recruitment process. Contact the clinic you usually attend and ask if they have places available. If they are full, ask to go on a waiting list, or to be contacted when new places become available. Keep asking!

Shop around

If you live in a part of England with more than one trial site, there’s nothing stopping you from contacting more than one clinic and shopping around until you find a place.  We’ve certainly heard of people who have put their names on several waiting lists (just take your name off the lists if you get a place). The advantage of signing-up at your local clinic? You won’t have to travel so far!

Be prepared

This is a Trial. So, the way of getting PrEP will be different from most of the services you get at sexual health clinics. You’ll need to take part in a short enrolment process (and sign a consent form). Then you’ll need to go back to your enrolling clinic every three months to get more PrEP. At those quarterly clinic visits you’ll be given HIV and STI tests (and treatment if you have an STI).

Stay informed

The Trial website has information about the Trial and details of clinics around England that are open to recruitment. PrEPster and iwantPrEPnow post regular updates on their social media – and PrEPster’s 5 Things to Know About The IMPACT Trial has more information about being on the Trial.

Don’t wait for PrEP

Finally, if you’re having sex that’s putting you at risk of getting HIV and can’t get a trial place  – don’t wait for PrEP! In addition to the Trial, there are cheap ways to get PrEP safely and legally online or, if you are on a very low income, through the Terrence Higgins Trusts’s Mags Portman PrEP Access Fund. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

Dr Will Nutland is the co-founder of PrEPster. It is a programme that seeks to educate and agitate for PrEP access in England. He is also an Honorary Assistant Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Will is a participant on the England PrEP IMPACT Trial, and a member of the Trial’s Community Advisory Board.

 

Author: Will Nutland

The post Here’s how to get onto England’s PrEP trial appeared first on Gay Star News.

How dating apps actually empowered me to be my best self

Jacob Edwards presents the Queer Cuture podcast, and has contributed to the latest season of the #QueerAF podcast | Photo: @ItsJacobEdwards

As a nonbinary person, I’ve found navigating dating and dating apps a huge struggle.

‘Yeah you’re cute, but do you have a dick?’

And variations of that line – are the exhausting style of replies I get. And in my experience of using pretty much every dating app going, I’ve seen a lot.

As soon as I start being honest about my gender identity, confused cisgender people message me and ask what’s occurring downstairs.

Let’s just be clear. Asking ‘what’s in your pants? Is not an Ok pick up line.

Was going back to Grindr a mistake?

On a recent podcast I made for National Student Pride I took on the notorious hookup app, Grindr.

I wanted to see how much Grindr had changed since the ‘Kindr on Grindr’ campaign.

It saw the introductions of pronoun and gender identity options introduced to an otherwise very cisgender male focused app.

But it hasn’t changed the culture yet. This is what I found out.

Not so ‘Kindr’ yet

The results of this little experiment I did were quite negative.

I faced a lot of nasty words being thrown around by horny cis men.

It really didn’t feel like the kind of app I’d want to use to hookup with anybody, regardless of my or their gender identity.

While making this podcast, I came to realise when I’m on these dating apps, I have two settings.

Either I’m on ‘full beam mode’ where I blast everyone with too much too quickly.

Or I go into ‘your headlights are smashed, please exit the vehicle mode.’ Where I give nothing away about myself in the slightest, both are not me at all.

Jacob hosts the Queer Culture podcast on Shock Radio and regularly calls out classic 'face palm' transphobic moments | Photo: @ItsJacobEdwards

Jacob hosts the Queer Culture podcast on Shock Radio and regularly calls out classic ‘face palm’ transphobic moments | Photo: @ItsJacobEdwards

What I learned from dating apps

It’s made me realise that I need to pace myself, allow myself to be the real me, to be QUEER AS FUCK and be ok with that.

Because realistically, having a partner is all about being yourself – and them loving you for that.

They’re the one person who gets to see every single inch of you, in every sense of the word.

They will see you at your highest highs and lowest lows and come out of them loving you no differently.

Finding THAT someone is going to be more than just a swipe right or ‘Hey how was your day’ on some app. It is what these apps are missing all together.

Not to say you can’t find THAT someone on these apps, but you cannot force it.

The dating apps are broken, not me or my identity

When the time is right and the person is right that relationship will find you.

These apps are great for hookups. And let’s be honest here, there is no shame in hookups even if your goal is to find someone special.

But forcing a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship just simply does not work.

So my advice for you today is: Take your time, be QUEER AS FUCK. Be you. It’s what I’m doing, and I’m so much happier for it.

Jacob Edwards is a podcaster with Queer Culture and tells their story on the National Student Pride podcast #QueerAF. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or where ever you listen to podcasts.

Gay Star News is a media sponsor of National Student Pride 22nd – 24th February 2019.

See also:

‘Thirsty pics’ are destroying self-esteem and warping our views on dating

My trans vagina is queer as f*** – and that’s why I’m talking about it

I’m gay and a homophobe – now I understand why

Author: Jacob Edwards

The post How dating apps actually empowered me to be my best self appeared first on Gay Star News.