SCRUFF founders Eric Silverberg and Johnny Skandros have responded to complaints from social justice warriors that claim that filters used on the app that allow users to narrow down the search of men they are looking for by race “enables” and “compounds” racial stereotypes.
“Those are legitimate critiques. Ultimately we wanted to build an app and a service that enables guys to find the kind of guys they’re into. That can mean many things for different people. Sometimes they have ethnic preferences, sometimes they have height/weight preferences, sometimes people have body hair preferences.”
A person’s choice of partner is deeply personal. And I don’t think we would presume to judge or tilt one’s choice of sexual partner, boyfriend, or husband.
Ultimately each one of our own individual choices is profoundly informed by the community we grow up in, perhaps by the relationships we had with our siblings or parents. I mean, to try and unpack that would probably take years for each person and so…I don’t know…I give wide latitude to other people when they talk about the kind of people they’re into.”.
Solution: Stop using these apps if they offend you to “date” and get out in the world and meet people. Last I heard we still had bars, bathhouses, social groups, and sex groups out there in the big gay world to meet people.
People’s “preferences” disappear when they get to know you face to face as an actual person and not a list of likes and dislikes and cock sizes.
If the SCRUFF filter and dating apps are your biggest issue, its not racism that are keeping people from taking you to bed.
How often do you think about what attracts you to another person? Better yet does what attract you to someone affect how you treat others? What about how you view people that have relationships with different groups? These are questions I ask and write about a lot because I feel that once we truly understand what these questions mean along with all that encompasses them the closer we are to being able to truly have meaningful dialogue in recognizing if there are issues involving a prejudice towards a group of people.
It’s a mouthful while also being the opening to a very long-winded rant that involves being gay, being an African American and loving football but they all seem to relate to each other in my rambling thoughts. And I’ll try to show how sports are a lot like life in how we communicate with each other in our relationships. Improve your skills by playing at 918kiss the best online casino games.
You see the reason I’m on this topic again is because today, while watching the Titans game, I received a message from a so called friend who just casually wanted to chat and catch up (aka gossip). This guy loves to talk about who’s hot and who he’d like to date (and hell I love doing that too) but the Titans are my home team that I root for even when their defensive line is abysmal and offense is all over the place. So I wanted to watch (also scream at my TV when they’re doing great or awful or both) without any distractions.
But my friend is persistent and somewhat of an inquisitor of the human condition (or maybe I’m a pushover). Anyway, I yield on watching the game to focus on what he’s saying. He then asks why I don’t like black men (…what). Naturally the question both confused and angered me at the same time because for one it was random and came completely out of left field and secondly because I always know how conversations like this go. Someone will say something completely untrue and downright dumb followed by me very bluntly stating that their opinion is not only false but also dated.
They will then quickly try to recover by providing some “empirical evidence” to support their lofty opinion. But I will then proceed to pass over any reductive laundry list of examples to addressing why the question itself is out of bounds leaving them stumped and angry because they realize that the way they asked the question was insensitive and more than likely prejudiced.
And wouldn’t you know it the situation went exactly like I predicted it would. He went on saying that it bothers him when people don’t date their own race while I pointed out that sounds like his problem not mine. But I couldn’t leave it there and had to expand on it and figure out what this dated opinion came from so I asked for clarification.
He couldn’t think of a way to explain his point without making it sound worse so he then talked about tastes are innate also leading him to the conclusion that sexuality is concrete with no fluidity meaning he believes there’s no such thing as bisexual men. So he choose to go all in on his ridiculous small minded opinions.
If you follow football, or rather any sport, this conversation and ones like this are a lot like the game. Two opponents standing their ground making large plays to score points and win. Either opponent can fumble the ball (or the point they were trying to make). Either opponent can intercept the ball (conversation) to score another point (in support of their opinion). The time runs out and the person who’s made enough right points wins the game (argument/debate).
So at this point of the conversation it should be enough when I say that you know what? Even though the majority of men I’ve dated have been Caucasian that I’ve not only attracted to but have also had romantic relationships with every race and a diverse amount of a different ethnicity. That yes I am aware of race and color and ethnicity and aware of the differences and while I acknowledge those differences it does not inhibit arousal or sexual attraction.
But it doesn’t. Saying that will only add to his warped way of thinking. My explanations or reasoning would only exacerbate whatever closed minded opinion someone else is voicing while making me doubt how aware I am of these cultural aspects when dating.
If I had brought up how at one time I was foolish enough to believe that the societal norms, including sticking to your race, did not extend to the gay community when in fact in some settings it is amplified. Maybe that is due to not wanting to stick out more in society by engaging in an interracial relationship on top of a gay relationship. In my experience this is more true here in the south.
And some may say the same can be said about acceptance of the gay community by the African American community but that too is subjective. Fair points but in this setting it would’ve come off as trying to give all the responsibility on society when ultimately that decision will always be mine and mine alone, no matter the lifetime of influences.
Why do we even care that they have an opinion on who we should do/be/say/date/have sex with/love/marry could’ve been another point to win this argument. I could have expanded on how sexuality is a breathing changing entity of our being and as our tastes change so may how we define our sexual identity. Yet talking about it will always seem like defensive bitterness and frustration. And it is that, but not for the reasons some may think.
Because it’s not for your pity. Never for that so you can keep it or throw it away or better yet not pity people because its degrading and treats someone like they’re subhuman. But it’s important because we do need to know how and why people are drawn to each other. It helps us in a very delicate, subtle way understand where our negative beliefs began. While we are not initially hate and attraction are innate how we perceive them is learned. But bring that up still would not have proven my point.
Do you see now how conversations like this become a game? You on defense trying to make as many points to defend your opinion and your pride before the conversation ends. There’s interruptions (interceptions), Hell sometimes there’s even snarling. The only thing that really sets it apart is that there’s no gentle slap on the ass at the end.
The only time you should be concerned with who someone dates or what their dating preferences are is when they stereotype or categorize an entire group and completely exclude them from based on that backwards opinion. Like Grindr profiles that have “no chicken (people of African Decent) rice (Asian) but spice (Hispanic nonblack) is alright”. Those are the “it’s just a preference” people you should direct these conversations towards. I am not one of those people. But again that would give a point to him because it would appear that I may subconsciously do the same thing as the inept men that have racist dating profiles.
The whole conversation made me defensive as it always does because I never want to be made to feel like I have some quota to fill and should have to seek out other gay African American man in order for it to “look right”. And I don’t want anyone questioning the legitimacy of bisexuality. But either consciously or subconsciously that’ll be what runs through people’s mind for a split second when they don’t understand. That logic would mean that I question whether the next time I’m attracted to another African American man is that guilt or actual physical arousal.
This should be entertaining to the outside observer and the victor afterwards but conversations like this don’t turn out that way. It’s life. Because even though I won the argument I don’t feel like a winner. Especially when this exhausting exercise in logic always leaves you feeling on guard for the decisions you make solely based on your race or sexuality or both. Then you hopefully reach the moment of asking yourself why the opinions of others matter in what a person sees in a race or sexual orientation.
In the end I didn’t use the points that I knew both from experience and studying human behavior meant that instead of answering a question we have to ask more questions. Ask why it feels right to you when two people of the same race are together and uneasy when it’s two different races together. Ask yourself why you need to define what someone else’s sexuality is for them and why that bothers you when it’s different from your beliefs.
My point is that it’s circular and reductive and repetitive and you will again have to go out on the field and be ready to defend your position every single time you’re challenged if you go into conversations like this with that mindset. And the thought of having to repeat the same plays can at times be daunting leading up to confusion and doubt and uncertainty that anything was accomplished at all.
All puns intended when we take on this dynamic in discussing race or sexuality it sets up an us vs them mentality rather than exploring why some have these inaccurate convoluted beliefs. And even when they are right in questioning a person exhibiting self hating tendencies or homophobia (ie not dating one’s own race or trying to define someone else’s sexuality) we have to ask what lead them to see this and open the dialogue even more.
So sports can often reflect the strategies we partake in when we have these types of conversations. Like how some people need to fight in a relationship to prove they’re right just for the sake of argument because it gives them power rather than actually having a legitimate point. Now while I’m not saying life is a game but the way that we interact and choose to have these conversations do take on these dynamics.
Even though this form of communication is the way we are taught to settle debates it is not the way we should be discussing race or sexuality. We need to examine where these questions come from before answering them because when people have questions like my friend that is where he’ll find the answers.
And next time, let me enjoy the damn game in peace.
“Thirsty. Not for something that comes out from faucet, but gravity in equation. It adds and divides, multiplies and subtracts and always equaling desire. This desire yearns to be met with solution. A remedy. For fires to burn and bodies meld. All this for man. Man wishes to drink fully to stifle flames only contact makes solutions hotter and harder to come by. It is our function. Our dysfunction. Lust is the only bodily function I give credence right now. Smells and tastes from lips and tingles between thighs while the glass remains empty. It mocks as we mock ourselves. Mouth is dry and muscles ache, for physical connection. This remedy brief, but satisfying.”
Sounds so dramatic doesn’t it? Or romantic. Or both or not at all. The inner monologue can come up with some really embarrassing commentary on desire as evident from the above entry of my journal over seven years ago. Suffice it to say that as eloquent as I was trying to be in that passage it shows that we are not always coherent when under the influence of our desires. As gay men, well really all men, we always have those moments when all we can think about is satisfying our thirst. And when we’re single it feels like that drive is magnified by just about everything because it seems to occupy so much of our thoughts.
Some may be asking what thirst is well honestly it’s a lot of things. But mostly, thirst is merely the expression of one’s desires for another. Sometimes romantic, almost always sexual, and hardly ever platonic, it is the nature of wanting to be close to someone. A feeling of wanting to show this person of interest every single time you have a chance how much you like them. Always greeting him with an enthusiastic smile. Laughing at all of his jokes. Then we may start to be a bit craftier in expressing our desire.
Showing support for every cause he stands for. Reciting every literary work you learned in high school thinking he may notice. Being irrationally vitriol towards another when he’s angry at someone. Telling him about music you oh so quietly noticed he was into. Instantly disliking anyone he flirts with but still making conversation with them to show that you’re cool and laid back. Being the first to answer any inquiry he asks on social media. Favoriting every tweet he writes and liking every Instagram picture. Waiting until a really good moment you two share before direct messaging him your number. Has to be at the right time or else you’ll seem too needy or reckless or eager. The whole thing becomes meticulous after a while.
Then if he positively responds to any of our previous attempts we escalate our efforts because our thirst has not been quenched. This positive reinforcement means we have to ramp up whatever initiative we have available to attract this man to us. In fact the attention that we received only made the thirst worse so now we want more. As a result we may find ourselves saying or doing things we swore we would never ever do. The thirst is not about being rational or logical; it’s about having our desires satiated. Even if that awkwardly showing off your own physical features of your body you think he may like. Eventually this may mean finding unique ways to bring up how talented you are in sexual exploits.
“Accidentally” posting a pic of you casually getting out of the shower that your bestie took while you were both wasted or the one where you were only taking a pic of your thighs to measure how much gym progress you’ve made when really it’s about showing off the goods. Eventually you become hell-bent on showing this guy that you are the total package that he may or may not have known he always wanted. You want to be noticed. It’s a balancing act because you are constantly micromanaging what you should and should not say or do. Keep in mind that this all happens fast as we keep displaying how we feel until our thirst is satiated and he is the only thing that can squelch that sensation. Or how agile and flexible you are. As men it is natural for us to notice what we see before anything else, in fact we are hard wired to do so.
Then there’s the waiting. Waiting to see if you’ve made some progress on your goal of obtaining this man, agonizing over those first few moments (or seconds) that you’re eagerly awaiting some kind of reply of all your efforts. The great moments when he shows enthusiasm for your latest attempt or slight depression when he either doesn’t show enough enthusiasm or doesn’t reply at all. Eventually we are so into making progress that we don’t notice how some are witnessing how much we are falling all over ourselves to win favor with this guy.
It’s all subtle and direct and blatant and covert. It is the modern way of showing a crush that you’re interested in him. Not at all to confuse this with obsession as that is about completely losing yourself. This is all about expression. Our focus is a little off and we come off as awkward. Meaning literally everything and everyone diverts our attention back to quenching the sexual thirst we have. But we still have our own lives; we still go to work and socialize with our friends. We still pay our bills and plan for our future regardless of relationship status. And eventually we let go if it doesn’t work out. Whether this desire was rooted in wanting a long term relationship where you build lives together or a one night stand you eventually move on.
And people will notice. Family, coworkers, and most certainly those friends that are a part of your inner circle. As a result some will choose to point it out. Or call you out on it, whether it’s appropriate or their place to do so is moot. We have a tendency to rib each other when we notice someone being a bit more exuberant with someone that they like for whatever reasons. That can come from the shame we feel about our own thirst and project that on to other men. Sometimes it’s just jealously because the two people lusting after each other at one point was someone you were once (or possibly still) have some interest or desire in. Or maybe you just feel uncomfortable about it because it’s not the heteronormative way of romantically socializing that were taught was appropriate by society or our parents. Or the worst which is there is no reason.
Sadly some choose to take advantage of the thirst. Some feel that it warrants them to ask for favors knowing full well that being the object of affection gives them power over another. Whether that involves something as simple as asking them to promote something they’re invested in or as out there as having them buy things for them off an Amazon Wish List they know that they are using the real feelings of another to forward their own objective and that’s an awful thing to do to another person.
With all this, you know what I’ve found to be the most helpful in moments like this? Owning it. Admit to yourself that you are a human being that has a sexual appetite just like everyone else, regardless of how willing they are to admit it. Taking ownership of your feelings always gives you power and control. Maybe not over this situation and definitely not over the guy you’re interested in but power over yourself. To accept the state of the situation no matter what. To know that while it is okay for you to feel this way it is never okay for someone to take advantage of that. And enough insight and confidence to be able to tell any hecklers to mind their own damn business.
But mostly, guys don’t beat yourself up for being human. Don’t feel like it’s something that you have to have to hide in shame from your buddies. You may well be an awkward, embarrassing mess since we are not always able to express how we feel in a more sophisticated way. But until then you will most likely say something that upon reflection is completely cringe worthy and all out embarrassing but again, you are human. So let your friends laugh, or judge, or mock because they don’t have the jewels to admit that under the same circumstances they have said and done much worse. And you know what else? That guy you have your eye on will probably show more interest when it comes from a real, honest place.
Dating can be rough, regardless of sexual orientation but sometimes we can make it a lot harder than it has to be. There’s also a lot of things to consider when romantically pursuing someone you’re interested in, regardless of whether it’s for something long term or just a one night stand. There are things we know we have to be aware of and keep in mind the entire time we’re interacting with these other guys. With that said you’d think there are certain things you should already know when interacting with someone you’re trying to get to know better.
For instance if a person is extremely short you aren’t going to make a comment about how it must be easy for them to reach smaller cupboards are you? No you aren’t. Well at least you shouldn’t bring attention to it. Why? Because it’s rude and whether or not they’ve had with it. Or it could make them self-conscious about something they never had a problem with? And that goes for other physical attributes like birthmarks, speech impediments, physical or mental differentiation in ability. And race, which is what I’ll be focusing on today.
Earlier this week after picking up some healthy nutrition (more like 3 family sized bags of Peanut M&M’s) I noticed a guy was watching my every move. It wasn’t a stare so much as it was one of those looks that someone gives that wants you to notice them. So I turned around and did my default response of whenever someone seems interesting which is an eyebrow raised and I lite tilt of the head. He smiled and returned the gesture.
His eyes appraised me from top to bottom (no pun intended) It appeared that I had passed whatever requirements he had in deciding if someone was attractive/interesting. I have this thing where my eyebrow goes up when I’m smiling and he placed his hand on my shoulder and he commented on how strong he presumed I could be. Then that proceeded into me saying a few sexual innuendos that I won’t bore you with as they were a bit off the cuff and a bit dirty.
All really fun and playful banter. He had an amazing smile and a sweet airy laugh. He loved shifting his weight on either foot to begin and end his thought process. It was all endearing within those first few moments. I was really enjoying the conversation and was ready to forget everything else I had planned for the day go hang out with him right at that moment. But then as he was laughing at our small talk, his expression changed slightly to what only I assume to mean he had something serious to say. He lightly touched my arm and said,
“You’re so cute. Funny. I’d like to get to know you.Seem like one of the good blacks that speak well.”
Seem like one of the good blacks that speak well
THE GOOD BLACKS
All the smiles and playfulness on my face was immediately replaced with revulsion and intense anger. I replied saying why the hell he would say something so racist, forgetting temporarily in that moment that when people say things like that they truly believe they’re paying you a compliment when in fact it’s a huge insult. Needless to as that it completely desiccated any amorous feelings I had for this effervescent man. So instead of enlisting into what I’m sure would’ve been a very heated debate on manners, I collected my belongings and left him standing there in the parking lot.
I wish I could say that this was the first and only time someone has said something like this. Or that I’ve only heard it a dozen times or so. But in reality I have heard this phrase too many times to count from some well-meaning guy something so crass. So many decisions are based on the potential length of the relationship with the first few minutes. You have to convey so much within the first few seconds that you all attributes you want to be known (single/married, looking for sex/looking for love, top/bottom/vers). But when you say something completely asinine like the gentleman in this story you eviscerate any ground you made.
All the things you were silently trying to micromanage onside your head becomes only focused on what you believe he’s focused on. Since he brought up my race, then how am I supposed to focus on anything else? Sure there is a lot of pressure from your inner monologue tell you to decide within this small frame of time what to say and what you should not say. These situations seem to be magnified when there
You see what the problem is with comparing someone to the rest of their race, or other tall or short people, guys with birthmarks, stutters or any other thing that you see as unique, different or outside the box, is that it is a problem for you because that is all you seem to focus on. Too often talking about race in the gay community is dismissed and made taboo because it is just assumed that you can’t be racist if you’re gay. But just because you come from one oppressed group does not mean you know everything there is to know about every other oppressed group.
As I was discussing this with colleagues and close friends they wanted me to elaborate on a few points about intersectionality and how race does affect dating in this community. So I wanted to write about some of the things I feel are the biggest issues and point out some things that I feel arise in these situations that if we remember in these situations you won’t offend a person and actually see them as a person. But more specifically these are some of the issues that arise the most.
You don’t have to tell us that this is the first time you’ve ever went out with an African American or anyone outside your race because more than likely we are the first. Even though we are becoming more diverse by the day, most of the dating pool is in the gay community is comprised of Caucasian males. I know you aren’t going to know each and every phrase. No you don’t need some special manual to interact with me. Just be authentic and treat me as I do you’ as a person.
That doesn’t give you an excuse when you’ve said something we feel is insensitive. You can express how you didn’t see it as offensive but try to understand why we are upset. Just like with being gay, there are a lot of intricate levels of insensitivity to institutionalization of racism. In any case when you’ve offended someone you care about, apologize first then talk about it.
No you are not responsible for knowing every sensitive, intricate detail of what it means to be an African American in this country for the man you’re dating. You don’t have to know the reasoning of every time we are offended by something that is insensitive to the color of our skin. But understand there are so many varying levels you may not see. So when your guy points it out, both of you should be willing to listen to both sides.
Remember how it is when someone straight dismisses you for something you feel is homophobic/insensitive to LGBT? The same rule applies here. Because you may not notice the same things that we do. And we see it from a lifetime of patterns that let us know that the intent of statements like “you’re so articulate” can sometimes mean “I don’t think African Americans are smart, intelligent human beings”
So don’t ever dismiss the way we feel. Ever. Even if you don’t agree and are unable to see what we see. Just because you don’t see what the issue may be known that it may not always affect you even though we are together that it will always affect me.
Yes you can engage in conversations about race and race relations. It affects you just as much as it affects me, just not in the same way. You sitting there listening to me giving a speech about what you did wrong or what I found offensive by what someone has said or done will do nothing but make both of us resentful. Open dialogue is what changes perspectives and fosters understanding.
Don’t tell us why you think we are the exception to our race like the story I shared earlier. It makes us feel like we are some type of anomaly of an otherwise undesirable race of people we belong to and are a part of. Telling us we are a contradiction to a stereotype given to our race implies to us that you believe those stereotypes to be true and that even though you show no evidence to the contrary that we are still capable of those behaviors. So on some level you only see the person as a stereotype or a contradiction of a stereotype, and not the person. Stereotypes imply that we are susceptible, regardless of action and behavior.
You see color. Unless you have some kind of differentiation that does not allow you to see color or are visually blind you see color. When someone says “I don’t see color” that means that you are going to ignore when (sadly not if, but when) something comes up about race. Whether that be an inappropriate comment from you or someone else. See the current politically correct thing to say is phrases like I don’t see color to show that it doesn’t factor in who you’ll choose to date. You can’t say that you enjoy learning about different cultures and perspectives and say you don’t see color. Because you do see color.
But again it’s a generalization, and no one ever wants to be considered the “other”. We all notice differences in culture, race, and ethnicity. All of us need to learn that when it comes to race, sexuality, pretty much anything that is innately different to us, does not equal better or worse. Just different. We are still a society that is obsessed with hierarchy and order instead of incorporating even playing fields for everyone.
I am not just my race so when you focus on that it is all I believe you will ever see when you look at me. If all I believe you can see is what’s on the surface then why would I want to go deeper with you? Spoil you? To put all the effort necessary into building a strong stable relationship or one of the hottest, most passionate hookups ever? Because you are only seeing the surface. And I am better than that. Even certain myths and stereotypes (no matter how true they may be) that on the surface shows a group in a positive light are based in discrimination and hate.
Be open and ask. Be open to the fact that perspectives are going to be different. Patience and understanding is rewarded to those that are willing to hear both sides of an argument/view/opinion. When we listen even when we don’t agree because it allows us to see why we feel the way we do.You should never be afraid to ask someone you’re with why something is the way it is. Just don’t treat it like a science project that you’re collecting data for. Don’t understand something? Ask. We are not silently blaming you for the actions of ancestors long gone, but we cannot ignore that their actions still affect us. So talk. As often as necessary.
Not everything will be about race, Far from it. But don’t pretend that these issues won’t arise because they will, just like every relationship. This isn’t to detour you from pursuing someone you’re interested in. These situations only become a big issue is because as a community we actively choose to ignore it and not talk about it. And just like any relationship when communication is down, everything falls apart.
But let me make this clear that this is no more work than if you were dating someone of the same race. I’m pointing this out because it is obvious and something you can see thus making it easier to address. This is to remind those that have always wondered but been unaware of how to approach it. We can’t change it if we ignore it. So scenarios like the story I told earlier still being a reality today fade into history where they belong.
On a casual warm day like today you’re probably out and about, walking around enjoying the rays of sunlight that have been absent as a result of the exceptionally long cold winter. Observing all of the regular sites you venue on days like this, you tend to notice someone you haven’t seen or met before. You notice his stance and the way he walks confidently but relaxed. He has your interests immediately because of how his body moves to show off the physique you find irresistible.
So automatically your senses hone in for more details to take in as much info as you possibly can. You take special notice of the inflection in his voice and how his mouth moves when he speaks to his companions. From the short time that you’ve been doing all you can to observe without being noticed you pick up on how interactive and engaged into the conversation; he appears to be able to keep the attention of his companions and you notice his beautiful smile and twinkle in his emerald eyes. From what bits of conversation you hear, he loves music and is discussing how he’d love to see Kylie Minogue in concert this year.
It all goes perfect with his put together attire but appears effortless. As you’ve finished surveying every bit of info you decide it’s time to move on with the rest of the day only a short time later, by some luck you’ve bumped into each other (literally). He reassures you by an earnest pat on the shoulder and a smile. Then as you make eye contact he looks down as he shuffles his feet with an even more incredibly sexy smile and you are smitten.
Caught off guard as you’ve let the earlier detective work of the day to slip your mind. And to now be presented with a new opportunity to interact by almost walking into each other you both apologize for the harmless confrontation and are reminded of why you were so attracted to this man. You work up the courage to finally ask more about this man so you can ask him out, an almost paralyzing sensation is brought on the fact that you don’t know if this man plays on the same team you’re on. Is he gay?
This was a situation that I had recently where I was presented with questions on whether the gut that I was immensely attracted to and was not quite sure if the interaction we had was simple banter or flirting. This guy could have just been a courteous polite straight man. I could have been forward and just asked him out like I wanted to or invoked 20 questions to see if he was gay but would that gesture been rude or was I just being too shy with my own advances?
We’ve all played this guessing game before and this discussion is not about condemning the practice. At some point every gay man has encountered a situation like this where you’re attracted to a guy and seems to be everything you’re looking for, whether that’s for just a few but worthwhile nights of heated passionate sex or for a loving long term relationship. There’s attraction and intrigue but you aren’t completely sure if he’s gay. It can happen like the scenario described or the some variant or not at all. Just say that your curiosity and attraction wants you to know if it’s possible. So what do you do? Do you trust your instincts? Do you just ask him if he’s gay and if you do should you be direct or apply some well-rehearsed wit?
It’s not always as easy when you meet men outside the world of gay social dating apps like Grindr or Scruff (or OKCupid, Adam4Adam, etc.,.). Most of us don’t reside in gay oases like New York’s Chelsea or West Hollywood because our world is much bigger than we believe. Remember that I’m from the south, where nearly everyone greets you with a smile and chivalry is still very much alive. Everyone has a little saunter to their step and sweetness in their voice. So how do we approach this without turning this into an embarrassing situation?
Even with all the debate, our concept as a society of what is masculinity has changed. Of course some in the gay community place this attributes at the highest of hierarchy it isn’t always so apparent in the rest society. Some would argue that these social constructs on gender roles are much more layered and less rigid than say even ten years ago. It is becoming more and more acceptable for men to be more expressive in their mannerisms that would’ve been seen as feminine a few years ago. Men can have playful banter and physical contact that are not necessarily due to sports or any other male display of strength. We can’t always go by what we see.
What other ways can we sense when someone is gay? What do we use to tell in order to make an advance or cool it off. Is it right to just go off of what they look like? Cause unless the verbally confirm or deny their sexuality or are wearing t-shirts that say it you can’t be certain. Remember that we live in a day and age where a well groomed man in tailored clothes is not an indication of sexual orientation but rather a metropolitan in the know of the latest trends. Maybe a scientific approach would provide more sound methods with better reliability.
There are actually studies that suggest we are drawn and attracted to others of the same sexual orientation by the pheromones that our bodies release chemically. Researchers are basing this off a theory that gay men respond to the actual sweat from men the same way women do. The findings also revealed that gay men tend to prefer the smell of other gay men rather than straight men. Based on this research, is it possible for us as gay men to actually sense each other by smell?
When we are in the same proximity of another gay men do we release a sent on some unconscious level tells us that our instincts about the guy we are interested in may also be interested in us? I wouldn’t be surprised if further research suggests that as a result of our pheromones we can decipher who is gay or not, simply by the way they smell. Naturally I’m not suggesting that every man that smells good means that he’s gay. But I do think it’s interesting to examine how our own biological makeup can possibly tell us more things about people our surroundings than we ever believed possible.
Why not as we already have similar research that suggests we can detect who’s gay by the proportions of the eyes as well as our own hands. Maybe in time more sophisticated approaches will be able to discern as homosexuality as a science has been at best subjective in their findings and at worse grossly inaccurate assumptions that are at times insulting. So maybe we shouldn’t use those methods in the scenario I experienced. Because we know how unfair it is to assume things as experience has taught us that assumptions are most likely due to what we want to see in an individual rather than who that person is in reality. So if we can’t always rely on nature or science or even direct approach, what else is left?
Lots of questions with unclear answers is what we are often left with when we truly take a moment to examine our ways of categorization. This discussion was not created to detour anyone from meeting other men in environments where these answers are not as clear cut as we’d like them. Far from it. But we should question how we base some of our actions on the conclusions we arrive at because they are not always accurate.
Here’s my thing; the concept of having gaydar in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing or barbaric in how we identify others like us. I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all as we all have a natural ability to observe characteristics that are similar to us, regardless of sexuality. Problems could arise however when we rely on only those innate measures of deduction that creates issues. So while using all these methods we employ to remember to not those methods be the only thing we use. Sometimes its worth it to let them confirm it for us like the gentlemen in the earlier scenario finally did for me.
Whatever the case, it’s always important to remember that whatever way a guy presents himself to not just openly assume his sexuality is one way or another. And in whatever way he presents his sexuality to you or anyone else, accept that. No matter the hunches or years of expertise you have in detecting who’s gay or not, respect that whatever he says, as you’d be want to be treated and respected the same way. The whole point of this was to show how much effort, either consciously or unconsciously we observe who among us are like us. Instincts are great but aren’t always reliable.
You finally arrive home after a hectic day and what better way to get rid of some tension than the accompaniment of a gentleman caller. Then you open the app, letting those within a designated area know that you’re available to have some fun. Time passes as you’ve blocked those you have no interest in or the profiles that creep you out. After going through some preliminary participants you later reject you finally come across a profile that adequately meets your requirements as they haven’t grossed you out. Then there’s conversation via a series of text messages to verify profile claims and likelihood of sexual compatibility. An agreement is struck to the location of where to meet. Then there’s sex. And then most often, unless it’s someone who literally blows your socks off, you never hear from each other again.
It definitely isn’t the only dating ritual of gay men but it by far is the most popular. Today’s technology offers social interaction on such a convenient level than ever before. It allows us to be able to not even bother with the hassle of hearing from people whose looks, personality, or conversation that we do not like. It is almost comparable to online clothes shopping in how easily accessible it is to find someone to have sex with any time, any where. And to me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it being that way, safely. There’s always an assured confidence in knowing what you want out of your relationships so why should selecting who we want to have a one night stand with be any different.
But here’s the thing, today I was asked does the easy access to sex diminish the possibility of experiencing a real, fully developed relationship. Do apps like Grindr make sex cheap and thereby less meaningful? I had to at least entertain the question. But as I began to process the inquiry it leads to me asking: Does the easy access actually make having real, sustainable relationships harder to have? Because of how easily it is to select a sexual partner for an evening or two translate into how we look for someone to share or lives with? Do you ever question how much social dating apps change and influence the way you see other men? Does it change the way that you look for dates out in the real world? Or does it change your entire perception on what other men are like?
These are all legitimate questions if you think about it. Communication now is more about a text someone sends rather than the voice of the person sending the message. We are more focused on the physical aspects of a guy than any other attribute he may possess. Intimacy is now more about what is said than what is heard. The fast pace of it all and ease that doesn’t pose any of those pesky, sometimes awkward encounters of getting to know someone out in the real world. There’s an objective, almost sterile approach to these encounters and so why wouldn’t we want our other interpersonal relationships to be just as convenient.
Of course we know these apps are not designed to find the one so I’m not arguing against their purpose. I’m asking does our use of them set the standard in how we interact inall the other relationships we seek out. So often I ask myself what are the components of a successful relationship and wonder if these behaviors we enact upon on social apps placate other social relationships. Because we communicate differently on these apps than say when we text someone out for a date, or at least they should be different. So to an extent we have to at least examine how much of an influence these social dating apps have on us.
Think about this: when you first began to fantasize about being with men (or at least didn’t deny it to yourself that you are attracted to men) what was the idea that you had in your mind? Was it you rescuing a hot, rugged man in some forest where you show off how brave and strong you were? Defending the prospective lover waiting for you to defeat their adversary and you run into each other’s arms as the antagonists stumbles away, leaving you the victor. Then you and your lover run off into the sunset to begin your happily ever after. Okay maybe that was a little over the top but that’s what I thought about all the time growing up. Comes from a tendency to want harmony and romance in all amorous situations that lead to the fantasy. But I felt like romance and sex was the same thing. That having sex was intimacy and love.
But as an adult (more likely an adolescent) we learned that this is more the exception than the rule. A lot of the lessons we learn within the gay community we have to learn pretty fast. That more often than not the fantasy and romance to sex does not exist and it is just that, sex. It’s okay when it’s just sex. Have as much as often as you like (safely) has always been my motto. It goes back to knowing what it means for you each time you choose to engage in it. So again I ask do social apps set false pretenses of what to expect out in the real world? No it doesn’t. It doesn’t promise us the fantasy of what we thought love or relationships meant. We can sometimes just erroneously apply the same expectations to every other type of relationships we pursue.
There’s a downside of course to the quick and easy mode of dating and relationships in using these dating apps and rely on the same rules to apply everywhere. When we apply this mode of interaction to all of our relationships, we miss out on a lot of the things that make relationships stronger. Those awkward moments of first meeting each other are time-honored stories of how love can bloom to the younger generation. The obstacles of getting to know someone and finding out their likes and dislikes prove to be the thing that helps strengthen them giving the relationship decades of longevity. How intimacy can be in a simple touch of a lover’s hand or one longing look into each other’s eyes. Learning and reaffirming that sex is not the only thing there is to love and that there is so much more of yourself involved. Noticing how you place deep flaws on pedestals because that is a part of the man you will love the rest of your life.
I know the ones that regularly read my articles have noticed a central theme. You’re probably thinking, oh great, another examination into the world of dating and or relationships and what they could be doing. But honestly there’s so much about relationships that I’ve only begun to write about. Maybe it’s because of the place I’m at in my life or because of the relationships I observe around me that I question them so much. But I know that sometimes you just have to accept things at face value. That certain things provide a service and that is the extent of it. And that is what Grindr, or Scruff, Adam4Adam, or sometimes even twitter is, essentially. And that is perfectly okay. Just remember that those rules don’t apply everywhere else.
I guess from the title you can tell where I got it from. But I must admit that I’m not an avid watcher or fan of Sex and the City. I don’t know if it’s customary for every gay man in existence to be able to quote every word or to even be able to embody a certain character. Maybe I’m being difficult with my subversion to labels but I’m trying to understand so I’ll go with it. And I was only half joking this idea on twitter but was surprised by the response of those that wanted me to write this, no matter how embarrassing for me it seems. So here it goes.
I took the past few days to familiarize myself with this cult classic that is so popular in the gay community. First off, I do know I’m no Carrie Bradshaw (obviously). I don’t live in the city that never sleeps. Fashion has never been something that I painstakenly examine and critique and I am probably the antithesis of glamour or style.
But like Carrie I am a romantic, hopeless or otherwise. I idealize love so much that sometimes I fail to recognize when real, authentic love is actually right in front of me. Missing signals and at the same time creating fire when there is none,all the while trying to find humor in the journey. But my question now becomes, can you find love and romance anywhere, and by anywhere I mean social media, like twitter, or even Grindr. Can love really strike anywhere?
well I’m a romantic so yes I believe you can find love anywhere, but how does it happen? Do the same steps take place that happen in real life? As gay men, we’re very visual when it comes to attraction and for some it all stops right there. That’s how we’re represented in the media and if I’m honest at times some of us do play into that. So a profile pick often serves as a definitive statement. But it’s love that we’re talking about here so looks are great but only relative.
You’d have to consider other things like what you have in common with each other. What kind of values does he hold himself and others accountable for (like leaving the cap off the toothpaste..and I am SO serious about that one). What is he passionate about and what does he want out of life. These are the same things we ask ourselves in real world scenarios too. We have to see if there’s a viable future if we begin to share our lives together. It sounds like this is harder to know when doing it through social media because more than likely dfistance is keeping you two apart. But I still believe possible but probably takes longer.
So the point basically is to examine whether love can truly be found via social media for the gay man. Maybe not even taking it to that level of love. Maybe just a genuine affection for one another despite not having the luxury 9f meeting each other yet. A real, sustaining, and amorous connection with someone whether it be distance or convenience is the question. Because we all know how easy it is to find a hookup as it doesn’t require much of anything but a location to meet up.
There’s a plethora of tips and advice of the does and don’ts all of pursuing love via the net. It’s believed that this is how a significant number of us gay men meet significant others. There’s even coaches that specifically work with gay men to help guide you through providing helpful information. However, Gaylife.com seems to have the most rational and well thoughtout info for anyone even considering this as a possibility:
Get To Know Him First- this means more than a first and last name. Make sure his information makes sense to you. I’ll add that getting another opinion from friends and loved ones is a good idea as well.
Protect Your Identity and Personal Information- DO NOT GIVE OUT INFO LIKE ADDRESS OR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER. Identity theft is real guys. Always protect it.
Leave a Trail- this is for when you actually have gotten to know him so tell someone if it ever advances to the point that you two met up
Get A Photo- again make sure he is who he says he is.
Listen For Details-make sure the info he gives is consistent and don’t ever be afraid to ask questions. If he is hesitant to explain inconsistencies, he may have something to hide.
Meet In A Public Place- no dark allies or poorly lit clubs. Make sure you know the area.
Map An Exit- you can never be too cautious.
Know His Sexual History- this is important no matter how the two of you meet. Again, always protect yourself before doing anything. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. Safety first.
I feel like there’s so much more to this topic than when I first began to write it. That there’s intricacies and nuances that I have barely scratched the surface on. I can list the tips and advice or even testimonials of those that have experienced this but it’s all subjective. I often vacillate with the notion but some feel it’s plausible.
But I do know one thing for sure that has come with great success and great failure in the arena of love. My own truth of finding love is that the most authentic thing one can do in the pursuit of romance or love is to be open to it. That no matter the venue or circumstance or position in life, always being open to the opportunity of love is what’s important. Worry about the where and how later.