Grindr Under Review

Grindr gets too much bad press and I will tell you why. Marco Marcelline, our LGBT+ editor, discusses the infamous dating app for gay men, the problems, but also the many benefits it brings.

You may have already heard about the considerable downsides of Grindr; a key one being the insistent audacity of anonymous users to bombard you with unsolicited pictures without even saying “hello”.

Millions of gay men around the world are talking to other gays on Grindr. They’re making connections; maybe for a few minutes, maybe even for a lifetime. This is an app which has been criticised for being an embodiment of the “hook-up culture,” and at the same time is derided for enforcing a cheap attitude towards sex.

However, let’s not pretend Grindr is only a tool for sex. It is a tool you can tailor to meet your own needs. If you’re been travelling it’s a great way to meet locals who can show you around, or even give you a place to crash.  Let’s not bemoan the dying art of courtship when you can very easily signal that you are looking for dates. It’s a tick box option! I’ve gone out on as many dates from Grindr as I have had hook-ups. Some of us don’t just log in when we’re looking for “fun” and, believe it or not, you can have an entertaining conversation.

What of the platform Grindr provides for closeted gay, bisexual and questioning men who, without it, would struggle to have their sexual and romantic needs met? There are men out there who feel unable to integrate into the community because of their closeted/questioning status, and Grindr is a way for them to make gay friends who can help them to come to terms with themselves.

What about places where it’s still illegal to be gay? Grindr comes as a much-needed hero – giving millions of men in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and elsewhere an opportunity to embrace their identity in the face of oppression. In these countries, Grindr is liberating. Having seen the role social media played in the Arab Spring, I don’t think it’s unlikely that the first gay liberation movements in these countries could be organised on Grindr.

In fact, my only concern about the app is that it can be a hostile environment for trans and non-binary people – but that’s an issue with the men on Grindr rather than the app itself. In fact, there is a silver lining even in this because, through Grindr, issues around racism, and transphobia within the gay community have been exposed- perhaps to a greater extent than they would have been otherwise. People’s awareness has been heightened, and action or change can more easily take place.

Grindr has numerous faults, but it should be recognised that some good does come from it. It may not work for everyone, but don’t judge all gay men who use Grindr as the same. The people using the app are unique individuals, with their own sexual and/or romantic perspective and hopes. Critiquing Grindr’s flaws is more than fair, but don’t hate the app itself or the options it opens.