By James Callaghan

So, I’ve been on Grindr, Blendr, Growlr, Scruff and countless other dating apps long enough now to have seen and read it all. FF, NSA, BB, LTR, PnP are all abbreviations that have unwillingly become a part of my everyday vocabulary. I’ve done the sex dates, coffee dates, group dates and every other kind of date; installed, deleted and reinstalled every app countless times and even though I generally loathe them all, I still come back for more. Is it the hot guy 30 feet away? Nah.

The ease with which you can find a hook-up on a hungover Sunday afternoon? Not any more. For me it’s the arrogant little shits with their six-packed torsos that send out a monosyllabic ‘Hung?’. Yes, those same muscled queens that demand a ‘clear face pic’ even though all they show is a pair of pumped up plucked tits. Them! 

You are probably thinking, “What is this guy on about?” Well, let me try and elaborate. First of all, let me just say it – guys on Grindr are dogs! Yes, completely rude, egotistical bastards and I’ve made it my task now to teach them how to behave! Well, someone’s got to do it. OK, jokes aside, not all guys on dating apps are bastards but many are and those are the ones that make Grindr such a dangerous place to be. Yes, dangerous – for people’s self-esteem and for the spread of STIs. Think back to the last conversation you had on Grindr or Scruff. It probably went something like this: 

- ‘Hi’, ‘Hi’, ‘You are hot’, ‘Thanks, you too.’ ‘More pics?’, [pics sent], ‘Oh I am looking for smooth’ [block];
- Or ‘I am looking for lean only’ [block].
- What about: ‘Safe or BB?’ ‘Safe!’ [block].

Imagine you are a 17-year-old gay boy, building up the courage to come out to your family. Excitedly, you’ve installed Grindr and are looking for others like you only to be welcomed by the cold and dismissive culture that prevails on that app. Are you going to want to be a part of that community? Are you going to be proud to be a gay man? Probably not. We’ve all been in the same place at one point or another, we’ve all had to come out and needed support in doing so. So instead of acting worse than high school mean girls, we need to give each other a little bit more respect and support. 

Back in the day I was chubby, hairy and because of what the guys on Gaydar used to say to me, I thought I was ugly and an outcast. Now that I am grown and have lost all the weight, I am suddenly, and superficially, referred to as ‘hot’ by those same muscled queens that once dismissed me. But I remember how it felt back then and today, even if I am not interested in someone on Grindr, I always aim to respond politely instead of being hurtful or dismissive. What I missed back then was a role model. Someone to say to me “Hey, it’s OK to look different. You don’t have to have the perfect beach body.” Unfortunately, not much has changed since my ‘chubby’ days. But it can change, and I make it my daily duty to change it. 

A few weeks ago I got invited to a chem sex party on Grindr. The guy was in his late 20s and very sexy but blatantly off his face on an entire alphabet of drugs. I sent him a link to Antidote, London Friend’s drugs and alcohol support service. Surprisingly, instead of blocking me, he responded by saying that he really wants to quit using Tina but finds it so hard. Two weeks later, he found me on Grindr and thanked me for giving him that extra push. He’d now been to his first meeting and finally sees hope in overcoming his addiction. These are the things we should be doing. We have to act together, as a community, regardless if it is on Grindr, Scruff or even in real life. We need to be nicer to each other because we are not just meat. We are humans, with feelings. Yes feelings, remember those? 

Parts of the gay community have always been shallow and oppressive. I mean look at your average circuit party – Adonis-like zombies bouncing around, gurning their jaws uncontrollably to monotonous sounds known as ‘house music’. Or walking around like peacocks thinking they are God’s gift to mankind. Oh, but don’t look at them directly in the eye for, like Medusa, they will freeze you on the spot. How many of these carbon-copied bodies hit 40 only to find themselves suddenly categorised as ‘too old’ by their younger protegés and end up depressed as they realise they have nothing else to live for? 

My philosophy has always been ‘treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself’ and if more gays lived following that same motto, our community would be a much nicer and friendlier place to be a part of. Chubby boys will love themselves and grow up to be confident individuals who don’t need to resort to weekend-long binge drinking, drug-fucking and careless sex. Amen! 

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