Sexual revolution or relationship devolution?

by Anonymous

Grindr: a godsend for lovers of casual sex, a dating tool or an obstacle to finding real love?


Not long ‘out of the closet’, I arrived in London a year ago fairly wide-eyed about the gay culture surrounding the city. Since then, much has changed in my life. A city of this size allows one the opportunity to truly learn of one’s independence, promising a sense of liberation. You can take over your own fate, carve your own life, and become your own person.

Gay life has been an infamous subculture in London for years, with Hampstead Heath notably having had George Michael prowl through the woods, hunting for his next sexual fix (as caught by the wildlife photographers of the now defunct News of the World). Clapham Common is another known outdoor place in which gay men can openly engage in sexual acts at night, away from society’s disdainful eyes. Today, however, gays aren’t sidelined from society and forced outdoors.

We now have Grindr, an app that works as a literal gaydar that allows us to explore the gay world from our own homes, without any of the ‘straight’ bits in between. You may recall it was introduced to a baffled Britain by Stephen Fry on Top Gear in 2010. Grindr creates a world devoid of heterosexuality, a purely gay universe where sex is the norm. So amid the excitement of freshers’ and moving into a new room and a new life, out of all that gay London had to offer, opening Grindr to an unadulterated city of bankers, lawyers and businessmen was something that excited me most.

The app’s logo of a black skull on an orange background, however, should be taken as a warning, as Grindr can quickly flush your morals down the drain. Anyone who says that their only intentions with the app are to make friends and find love is lying to themselves and everyone else.

Of course, we all enter into such things with optimistic romantic hopes, and Grindr is, essentially, a dating app. However the focus is very much on sex, and sex in the here and now at that. Very few people have intentions of going for a drink, maybe dinner, a trip to the theatre before getting to know each other in the bedroom, and on Grindr things go way beyond a kiss on the first date.

I remember the first time I snuck out of my halls, shamelessly dressed in grey joggers and a dark red hoodie, in pursuit of my carnal desires. It became almost too easy to hop on a bus and travel anywhere in London. My night-time escapades have taken me to Baker Street, Kensington and Hampstead so far. These liaisons, however, all blossomed and withered away in the course of a few hours. There were never any plans to visit these people, or indeed, talk to them, ever again.

When you invest in Grindr, you don’t invest for the long term. It cheapens sex, and transforms it from a natural act of love into a drug. When the high of sex becomes so accessible, it is only natural that the users of the app begin to utilise it more, seeking it out whenever it suits them. This in turn lowers anyone’s expectation of relationships, and alters their sexual mentality. It only takes swapping a few pictures of various parts of one’s body to secure a ‘meet’, making the affair a purely physical one. I know of only one couple that have met on Grindr and entered into a straightforward relationship. From my own personal experiences, however, I know that the app is not in any way geared towards such goals.

One must ask, is this such a bad thing? Homosexuality is not something, no matter how loudly you dress, one can simply detect. One can guess, assume, and make an effort to find out. However, this could lead to embarrassment if the outcome is not what you hoped and the boy in question replies with “no, I just like to dress like a hipster”. Queer theorists must rejoice that the object of their desires, a gay universe where there is no question of sexuality, has been created in cyberspace. Why shouldn’t gay people have a platform on which there is no question of someone’s sexuality, where they can judge someone for more than if they’re just straight or accessible?

Nevertheless, let’s not pretend that anonymous gay sex is anything new. As stated earlier, cruising grounds have been rampant, with gay men airing their lust in the outdoors for years before now. Just because the situation is more visible, with the cruising happening on the phone screens next to you, doesn’t make it any more potent or sordid. Straight culture is just as guilty of having a laid back attitude towards sex and one night stands, so what difference does it make if you meet someone when you’re drunk in a club or over Grindr? Surely it should be celebrated that a part of the gay subculture has escaped the outdoors, and has managed to manifest itself in our public places, universities, offices and homes.