The tops and bottoms of online dating
Joseph Lawson | Twitter: @joejourno3
Oh the joys of dating! The rollercoaster of ups and downs, trying to find your perfect match; someone that you can relate to and cherish. In the modern era, dating online has become a bit of a phenomenon- research by Scribbler suggests 27.7% of women and 23.3% of men prefer the World Wide Web when it comes to finding their perfect match, with over 800,000 monthly users in the UK using the most popular dating app, Tinder.
However, ask a gay man on their opinions on dating online and the lines blur, a sort of shell shock response; not nearly the romantic fun that is often experienced from the straight end of the spectrum. But why is this?
As a gay man, it is HARD. Dating is HARD. I never had my first kiss on the playground by the swings, or someone to hold hands with as we walked through the corridors on our way to year 8 science. I never got asked if ‘I had a boy yet’ by my slightly overenthusiastic uncle; it was always ‘do you have a girl’ which just made me feel worse. I think these experiences that gay men and women go through in their younger years shapes their ‘path to glory’ when finding someone when they’re older; which, in shorter words, we don’t. And, to be honest, it never really was an option in school to be open. My main memories of those not-so-good old days is being kicked, punched, thrown to the ground and being called a faggot for most of those five long years.
But, like a shining light in the dusky depths of darkness, I stumbled on to Grindr. A whole new world; full of like minded men. A utopia for limp wrists, a poofters paradise (not to be confused with Gangsters Paradise). To a 15 year old me, this felt like striking gold. I didn’t have to pretend I just ‘wasn’t interested in relationships’, because, in reality, of course I was, but asking someone I found attractive if they’d go on a date felt similar to telling someone I killed their first born. To make things worse, as someone who is definitely more feminine than not, I would prefer someone who isn’t as feminine as me; which just makes it harder to find someone to be in a relationship with.
I’m really not selling the gay lifestyle am I…
As most of you will have guessed, Of course Grindr isn’t a paradise, it’s a cesspit full of creepy men (one of them possibly being my overenthusiastic uncle) who prey on boys who are definitely underaged, like vultures hungry for nutrition. It’s hard to put into words how damaging this truly is. From 14-15, young gay men are exposed to pure, unfiltered sex. Not only this, but sexual encounters can be planned in minutes, filtered to their prefered weight, height, race and proximity- all at the touch of a button. The damaging effects of this is all but apparent in later life- gay men almost feel numb to the idea of sex. John Pachakis, an LGBTQ+ mental health expert, described gay relationships as ‘status-focused, competitive, hierarchical and exclusionary’, perpetuating the sense of desperation felt in this little nook of the population.
My Grindr experience is… interesting. The odd hookup, nothing special. There is one experience that springs to mind though and, scarily, possibly relatable. I was a bit short of tobacco one time, as you do, yet I had no money. And to a 16 year old me, and even now, embarrassingly, it’s the end of the world.
I had the ingenious idea to try and sell… pictures on Grindr to fund my addiction. I thought I was a mastermind- and yes, now I realise how dangerous this is. Yet it came to an end rather suddenly; I was permanently banned! *Classic DUN DUN DUN sound plays*
In actuality this probably was a good thing. Grindr, used casually, is fine; but having an obsession with it is the opposite.
Gay dating was never going to be easy. The famous Section 28 bill passed by everyone’s favourite Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, in 1988, prohibited the ‘promotion of Homosexuality’ in schools, the workplace, educational material and on television. Before this point, the outlook on homosexuality was actually on the up; people sort for congregated areas such as gay bars, places where they could be themselves in public; yet afer this bill was passed, the community was strangled even further, and homophobia grew once more.
Nowadays; things are finally on the up. As I sift aimlessly through things like TikTok, Im reminded that younger generations, in and out of school, are openly gay without query (no pun intended), they can finally hold hands by the swings, or tell their family about their partner. Obviously I’m jealous of what I couldn’t do; but better later than never eh?