‘Baby you were born this way, (terms and conditions apply)’ – the new Grindr app threatens to undermine gay freedom of expression
Would you describe yourself as a Jock, Bear, Muscle or Twink? This is something that the ‘revolutionary’ new version of everyone’s favourite ‘buddy’-finding app, Grindr, wants you to decide. Define yourself in a certain way so the men who want that sort of thing can find you. I’m not sure I’d consider this revolutionary.
Such stereotypes have been around for a long time. Too long, I’d argue. Maybe once – before the internet and mobile phones connected us and opened our eyes to bigger worlds beyond our immediate circle of friends – these and other definitions of gay male niches were useful. Now they’re outdated and unnecessary.
No-one sang ‘Baby you were born this way (terms and conditions apply)’; While we are busy celebrating our diversity, one of the most useful and important innovations of the 21st century is trying to bundle us back up into little homogenous groups.[pullquote_right]No-one sang ‘Baby you were born this way (terms and conditions apply)’[/pullquote_right]I’m a single gay man and I have no issues about using Grindr – it’s a great way to meet people. It’s not just about sex; it’s about connecting with people. Sometimes, admittedly, it’s a sweaty and naked connection (and there’s nothing wrong with that – recreational sex between two consenting and responsible adults can be a lot of fun), but an increasing number of people are finding boyfriends and lovers while ‘shopping online’. I don’t know anyone who uses Grindr and only ever goes for one set-and-certain, rigidly-defined type of guy. Variety is the spice of life, and that’s exactly what this new feature from Grindr threatens to take away.
I like to think that, as people, we’ve moved on from these two-dimensional, badly-fitting definitions. Mostly because, as you make friends and expand your social circle, you realise that no-one fits comfortably in those boxes. For example if you’re over 20 years old, not overly youthful or particularly hairy, neither muscular nor into sport, there’s no box for you. Are you somehow doing it wrong?
Take a moment to consider those who are just coming-out. Taking that big step and looking for friends, people similar to them, with common interests – but finding, suddenly, that more is required: Ok, so you’re gay, but which type of gay are you? Better choose one if you want to fit in!
Come on, Grindr, you’re better than that; give us something new and exciting and innovative instead of falling back on the same old tired rubbish.
Of course, so far we only have word of these four ‘communities’ at the moment. There may well be others in the future, but there won’t be enough boxes for all of us to fit comfortably within such definitions until there’s one for each of us. And there already is – it’s the little square that your face (or, more often than not, your torso) goes in.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s the only one that matters – the one I get to define, not anyone else.