3 Ways Dating Apps Are Changing the Game for Gay Men
More than 94% of college students use social networking sites regularly, which has made a lot of changes to the way that they interact with each other. When it comes to being gay, those changes are slightly different. Dating apps and social media have changed the landscape for gay men in a lot of ways. Apps like Grindr, Jack’d and Scruff allow semi anonymity for people seeking a hookup or relationship, while also being useful in helping them find others who are looking for the same thing, even if one or both of those people are not out in their community.
Creating Online Community
It can be difficult to find a queer friendly community without opening yourself up to harassment, especially in conservative areas or areas where homosexuality is still illegal or culturally frowned upon. Dating apps and sites like these offer a safe haven for many gay men, allowing them to meet more people like them without necessarily outing themselves to everyone around them.
In the introduction to his doctoral dissertation “Investing in Grindr: An Exploration of How Gay College Men Utilize Gay-Oriented Social Networking Sites,” Michael T. Dodge talks about a student named Blake who was not comfortable coming out to the community that he lived in, which was openly homophobic and extremely conservative. Blake found solace in a dating site aimed at gay men, describing it as a refuge where he could explore and be himself more fully than he could be in person. He was able to meet fellow students on the website and build a friendly rapport with them based on the trust that they placed in each other from being on the site.
Additional Health Concerns
While these apps have a lot of benefits, they also lead to health concerns – both physical and mental.
Men who spent time online looking for casual sexual partners were more likely to have anal sex without a condom, as well as more frequent sex with a larger number of partners. Grindr has recently started sending users opt in reminders to get tested for HIV, and also sending them the addresses of local testing sites, hoping to encourage their users to get tested.
It can also lead to sexual addiction, or addiction to the app. Some estimate that 50 percent of gay men suffer from depression and anxiety, often stemming from rejection for being gay. Apps like these can offer compliments that can make people feel better in the short term. However, a survey of 200,000 iPhone users by Time Well Spent found that 77% of griner users experienced regretful feelings after using the app. Users interviewed by Vox said that when they close the app they felt more depressed, more anxious, and more isolated.
More Opportunities for Sex & Relationships
Apps like the ones mentioned above offer similar refuge and comfort for their other participants. They also offer more opportunities for casual sex and relationships for gay men. Because of their geolocation tracking, gay men looking for someone nearby can find that person with relative ease while remaining in the comfort of their home or office. Many people on these sites, like many dating apps, are only looking for casual sex, which can be detrimental to finding a healthy long term relationship.
Have you used apps or sites like these? Tell us about your experiences with them!