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Grindr Goes Straight? GPS Hook Ups Aren’t Just For Homos No ‘Mo

Powered by article was written by Lucy Rock, for on Saturday 3rd July 2010 23.04 UTC

The phenomenal success of a phone application that allows cruising gay men to locate one another instantly using GPS technology has led to plans for the release of a straight version by the end of the year.

The app, Grindr, which promises to help users “Find gay, bi, curious guys for free near you!”, launched in March 2009. It enjoyed a modest uptake in the UK until Stephen Fry showed it to Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear, prompting 40,000 men to download the free iPhone app in a week.

There are now more than 700,000 men in 162 countries using it, with 2,000 downloading it every day. A Blackberry-friendly version was launched last month.

Users see a grid displaying photos of men and their proximity to them. If you like the look of someone, you can exchange flirty messages before meeting up immediately. One fan of the app told the Observer: “I’ve probably had as much [sex] in the past eight months of Grinding as I have over the 20 years since I came out.”

Grindr is the brainchild of Joel Simkhai, a 33-year-old American international relations and economics graduate who worked in finance in his twenties. It took him six months and $5,000 to build Grindr, with the help of a Danish app developer and a friend who was an expert in branding, marketing and design. It’s about “finding guys. Being among your peers. Socialising,” he said.

The rapid success of Grindr is prompting Simkhai to launch a straight version. “This notion of: ‘Who is around me? Who is in this room now? Who else is like me?’ – this is not just a gay thing. Gay men don’t have the monopoly on loneliness and isolation.”

He says he gets more requests for this from women than from straight men. “I do think it will be relevant for women,” he said. “We’ll redesign it; we’ll call it something different, market it differently.”

Simkhai said that Grindr was a way of getting round the problems with online dating. “With missed connections and back and forth, and: ‘Oh actually, this week I’m in New York, and you’re in LA…’ Online dating is frustrating! It is a lot of work!”

With Grindr, you see someone’s picture, you meet immediately and you establish whether there is a mutual attraction.

Simkhai said: “Grindr reintroduces the aspect of chemistry. And it’s real. It is not a Second Life. It is not a virtual world. It’s a tool. It enables real life, it doesn’t replace it.”

He added: “It’s a precursor to sex… We think sex is part of life, the basis of life. But Grindr is sexiness rather than sex.”

But some gay men have reservations about the app. Matthew Todd, editor of gay lifestyle magazine Attitude, said: “The commercial gay world – which Grindr is part of – is a very adult, very sexual world. And I worry when I see these young kids coming out on to the gay scene, and everything is about sex. There’s no real concept of relationships.” © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

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  • Kendall

    Sad. Technology is not bringing us together it is driving us apart. I don’t believe that quote about the guy who said he had more sex in the past 8 months then he did in 20 years of being out. I have friends on Grindr and they say it’s the same games as manhunt or other sites. a lot of wasted time and rarely meeting in person.

  • jason

    The straight version will never work as well. That’s because the male-male paradigm is a slutty one, the male-female one less so. Women also like to get to know a guy whereas men will fuck other men in the mud if they had to.

    Don’t challenge what I’ve said, I know what I’m talking about. I’ve been to sex clubs where men walk around like zombies in total silence, exchange glances with other men, retire to a cubicle, emit a few orgasmic noises, and then they’re off to find someone else.

  • jason

    Matthew Todd is correct when he says that the gay world is being marketed as a sex world. It’s distorting what being gay should be about. It reduces everything to sex and promiscuity. Not good in my view.

  • McMike

    Um, yeah. All anyone has to do is review the stats on Craislist to figure out what’s what:

    Jacksonville, 07/0210
    Women seeking women: 4
    Women seeking men: 7
    Men seeking women: 33
    Men seeking men: 101

    Gay men get laid a hell of a lot more because men, straight and gay, are horny bastards.

  • Qjersey

    Some drag queens announcing the groups at the NYC pride march pulled out Grindr and kept calling out men in the crowd, it was hysterical because they were reading what the guys put on their profiles.

  • Ken S

    @Qjersey: I’d have thought as soon as you started up Grindr on the NYC Pride parade route your phone would have a meltdown and ned to be replaced :)

    As for all this other stuff people are saying… please. “It won’t work because straight girls don’t like casual sex!” FALSE. They fuckin’ love it, they’re just socially conditioned to say that they don’t. Give them a discreet casual hook-up app and those bitches will be bangin. Maybe not quite as much as gay men, but they’ll be bangin.

    Which brings one to the next thing m’ladies doth protest too much about, “Big Gay Inc. over-sexualizes gayness, it isn’t all about sex!” Which is– begging everyone’s pardon– bullshit! Yes, yes, there’s a whole nebulous sort of gay ‘culture’ that’s the sum of our art and our ‘style’ and the wonderfully subversive ways that we effect society through advocating for expanded freedoms and diversity. But can we do a little quickie test? Hands up everyone who first ‘knew they were gay’ because as a young latent homo you saw an ep of Queer Eye and thought “those guys are so helpful and creative and witty, like me!” Now hands up everyone who first recognized they were gay because there was some other guy you wanted to kiss and strip naked and press your sweaty body up against.

    Gay *is about sex.* Who we want to have sex with is the only thing that *necessarily* sets us apart from straight people, it’s the only baseline difference. All the ‘cultural’ stuff is gravy; it’s a response to how that one difference is received. For the longest time, a majority of the straight majority thought our man-on-man sex was “gross,” so we were oppressed– called ‘sick’ and ‘perverts’ and ‘unfit for parenting and military service’ and ‘not able to get married’ and every other nasty thing– so that wonderful “outsider-looking-in” subversive culture of ours arose from our writing about that experience and our ever-evolving ‘spot-the-fellow-sodomites’ dress-codes and our activism towards freedom of gender and *sexual* expression. But if the majority had never ‘cast us out’ in the first place, if (thank you so much religious stupidity) the majority had never looked at that one difference– namely who we wanted to be having sex with– and set us apart because of it, then I contend that we wouldn’t be that different at all.

    And sure enough, as acceptance grows today we’re starting to see our culture assimilated faster than we can change it; young people are embracing queerness so fast everyone’s starting to seem ‘in-between’ somewhere, with mostly-straight kids ‘looking gay’ and mostly-gay kids ‘acting straight’ (even while straight behaviour becomes less rigid and dogmatic and more subversive). Absolutely it is, because I know I’m not the only one experiencing a kind of ‘obsolete old cold warrior’ angst.

  • Brutus

    Hear, fucking hear, Ken S.

  • thedarkchariot

    @Ken S:

    I hear what you’re saying, but just because the definition of being gay has to do with sex does not mean its the first thing one thinks of when he thinks about being gay. I think about love and finding a relationship. For me, sex is, as you put it, “just gravy”.

  • whatever

    “… this is not just a gay thing. Gay men don’t have the monopoly on loneliness and isolation.”

    lol you snarky, toothy bastard, you

  • Ethan

    Grindr is popular because there is a market, a very slutty desperate market.

  • mcc

    Women don’t like casual sex as much as men. It’s not conditioning, it’s evolution. Men have extremely low costs for reproduction (nut and go) while women have high costs (pregnancy, nursing). As such, it is much more productive for men to have an interest in multiple sexual partners while women would benefit more from a partner interested in raising the child together (i.e. one partner). There was a study done a while back, chronicling the sex lives of people during the sexual revolution. Straight men had on average 30 sex partners in their lives (don’t quote me on this, it’s a rough estimate as I don’t have the exact numbers), which was the same for straight women. Lesbian women too had on average 30 or so sexual partners in their lives, while gay men had numbers in the hundreds to possibly thousands (I know it was at least a couple hundred… it may have been a couple thousand but that seems wrong to me… but who knows). That means the limiting factor was women. Women (on average.. i don’t want to hear about some skank you know who loves cock so much she sleeps with a new guy every week. outliers don’t dictate trends) simply aren’t as interested in casual sex. Your world experience should agree with this.

    Along these lines is why women generally don’t like porn while men love it. Men are much more easily aroused by visual stimulus than women, as it would be advantageous to get aroused at any opportunity for sex for men while it would be disadvantageous for women to get aroused every time they see a naked man. It’s due to the costs of reproduction.

    Socialization is a factor, but an amazingly limited one. Society works the way it does due to innate factors.

  • Ken S

    @Ethan: Well that’s a bit presumptuous. It presumes that just because people using Grindr (not me, by way of disclosure, but I do have a bf and I don’t have an iPhone, so…) that they’re “desperate,” which I don’t think is necessarily a well-founded charge because they might just prefer to be efficient in their hooking up or they might have lousy gaydars to identify other homos.

    And judging by the tone, it further presumes that there’s something inherently bad about being “slutty.” Which is a fairly quaint Victorian attitude. If a person finds sex joyous then what’s so awful about pursuing lots of joy, whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself? Why do you feel it necessary to shit on other people’s exuberance? If we were ‘meant’ by some sneering, hateful higher power not to enjoy sex then I’ll wager orgasms would feel quite a bit different. If sex was ‘intended’ only to be some ‘spiritual’ act with your One Alotted Partner In the World (at any given time? or for life?) then surely an intelligent designer could have built our dicks such that cumming with anyone else but that one partner felt like we were being given a corkscrew catheter. But it doesn’t. An orgasm feels about as good as an orgasm feels whether it’s with your first partner or your 100th, so I’d humbly posit that if there is some higher power or cosmic source of morality it doesn’t give a crap about our sex-lives, and if it does it’s mighty lazy about enforcement.

    Sex is just sex; its “moral meaning” and its “proper” limits and etiquette are up to us– its practitioners– to muddle through and cobble together and come up with for ourselves, and I think that as long as all the parties involved are consenting (and mentally fit/mature enough *to* consent) and as long as no one is being betrayed, unwillingly harmed or unwillingly humiliated in the process, then it’s good ‘n square. Willing and honest participants shouldn’t be begrudged for having as much sex as they like, it’s not as if they’re going to “use up all the world’s joy” and leave none for you.



    100% Co-sign. Guys are simply wired to be horny. And in addition the double standard from high school of the “slut tag” still applies, girls are more hesitant to hook. I have a good amount of straight single friends. Most of them are pretty high on the hawt scale. And yet they go out to straight bars and are not guaranteed a hook with the ladies everytime no matter how hard they try. They come out with me to a Gay bar and see how easy it is for me to hook if I decide to, and actually get jealous. One friend commented “you got it made, you can hook at will with a hot guy and as best part is you don’t have to worry ’bout getting a guy pregnant!”…………… :-p

  • Joe

    @Ken S: Yes, yes and YES! Amen!

  • Qjersey

    BTW Grindr drains your battery faster than you can find a partner to um…okay leave it at that.

  • Syl

    @ TheDarkChariot: My feelings exactly. Gay can’t be defined just by having sex with other men, but also by one’s romantic inclinations as well. Whether it’s a product of culture or biology or both or neither, people do tend to associate fucking someone with falling in love with and having an intimate personal connection with that person. Some people seem to be immune to that inclination and can have sex with whoever whenever with no emotional or psychological consequences, and others just ignore the consequences. But the whole “gay men are all promiscuous sluts and don’t care about love or intimacy” is one of the key talking points of the anti-gay crusaders.

    KenS is right though: guys are wired to be horny, and girls are both culturally-conditioned against promiscuity, and discouraged by our own anatomy. I mean, puberty is no picnic for anyone, but guys don’t have their sexual maturity announced bloody geyser of uterine tissue which then returns for however many days every month. Add the horrors and insecurities of growing boobs, fears of STDs and pregnancy, and the cultural double standard of “cool pimp/ladies’ man vs. disgusting slut”, and it’s easy to see why many women are uncomfortable with sex and their own sexuality. Plus, with same-sex relationships things move faster as there’s none of the “battle of the sexes”, “I just don’t understand men/women” aspect. They know how you think, you know how they think, both speak the same cultural language.

  • toby

    If the pic above is the kind of guy I will find on Grindr I will stick to the bars. Thanks.

  • Jason Dancin'


    I have to really, really personally say that after years and years of dating guys I REALLY don’t get my same-sex people/guys. I never understand them when it comes to dating, I never will.

    They want sex with you, no they don’t tonight because it’s too far.
    They want love, no they don’t want to be tied down.
    They want a f-buddy, no they don’t want to place you that high on their “priority” list.
    They want intimacy, no they don’t they want to blow and go.
    They want to have sex, no they don’t they just want their dick sucked not the other way around.
    They want to be pampered, no they don’t they fear commitment.
    They want you to stroke their ego, no they don’t–oh wait yes they do on that last one.

  • Jason Dancin'

    So what I’m saying is that in NO way do I understand my same-sex people/guys. Not then, not now.

    I believe it’d be easier dating girls.

  • jeffree

    @Ken S : Great post! Very funny & thoughtful ! Hope to read more from you.

    It’ll be interesting to see how well Grinder does with the hets. My guess is that peak hours of utilization will be lunch hour and the 45 minutes before & after the bars close !
    Just like us :-D

  • nikko

    Women can never be what men want them to be. GRINDR or straight bathhouses could never work. Men are not women, and encouraging sluts is not in society’s best interest. It cannot, won’t work, and it shouldn’t work. The male/female paradigm is delicate, and encouraging whoremonging is a moral breakdoen of society, not freedom.

  • Aaron in Honolulu

    @Ken S: You’re right. Just like I’m right in saying that some of us like to have love and romance in ourl ives instead of fucking mindlessly until our dicks drop off. To each his own. If being a slut suits you, go for it. Nothing wrong with that. If being in a one-man relationship suits me, that’s ok too. You’re not wrong and I’m not wrong. Like I said, to each his own.

  • Jonathan

    @Ethan: “A slut is a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you” – form The Ethical Slut

  • Jonathan

    @Ethan: “A slut is a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you” – from The Ethical Slut

  • BenR

    The straight version will never work. In our culture, it’s almost entirely men who are interested in completely anonymous sex like this. Even if women were interested, their interests are kept in check by the reality of the threat of sexual violence. Men meeting men to have anonymous sex are basically on equal ground in terms of strength and implied power dynamic. Women who meet men to have anonymous sex are at an incredible disadvantage, not only in terms of physical strength, but in social power, as well. If a woman meets a guy to have sex and decides he’s a creeper and she doesn’t want to go through with it, he can still overpower her and no one will believe that she didn’t “have it coming” or “ask for it.”

    Regardless of whether men or women are more or less gratified by anonymous sex, there are a lot more reasons for women to avoid it.

    Besides, if history teaches us anything, it’s that any website with a sexual angle will mostly cater to men. You don’t even need to look past something as seemingly benign as World of Warcraft to figure that out. The number of people playing female characters on MMORPGs, regardless of whether they themselves are female, who have been propositioned by male players has got to be close to 100%. And that’s a PG game.

  • S

    Note to Queerty: With reference to your home page headline which linked to this article: “Will Breeders Flock to a Straight Version of Grindr?” (and simultaneously bracing myself for a lot of “thumbs down”), I can’t help but wonder … am I the only gay person who finds the word “breeder” as offensive as “faggot” ?

  • Ken S

    @Aaron in Honolulu: Just so I’m not misconstrued– I’ve been in a monogamous (except for that one time we fooled around together with a bi-curious friend of ours) relationship for ~7 years. I’m not some zealous advocate for sluttery because I’m unfamiliar with relationships, I just believe– as Jonathan later put quite nicely by quoting The Ethical Slut– that the stigma attached to the word “slut” is a mean-spirited and unfair pejorative. I don’t see it as some ‘moral’ failing (as some on this thread– not necessarily you, but some– seem to) to enjoy sex and to want lots of it. That attitude comes off as little better than envy: that someone else is enjoying their free will and their bodies “more than I am,” and so should be slandered for it.

    Frankly, even your “non-judgmental” stance sounds *awfully* judgmental. Why does ‘a lot’ of fucking have to = “mindless?” Why is it necessary to invoke the image of someone’s ‘over-used’ dick “falling off” like some diseased leper’s? Those are very loaded choices you made that undermine your stated opinion that “just because we differ doesn’t make either of us ‘wrong.'” I rarely see ‘sluts’ go quite SO far out of their way to throw stones at ‘romantics.’ They might find you quaint or dogmatically old-fashioned or “limited” in your apparent capacity to only love one person at a time. But it’s still much more socially permissible to deride sexual ‘liberals’ than it is ‘conservatives.’ Why do you suppose that is?

    What exactly makes this puritan or Victorian anti-sex streak so appealing even to subversive sexual minorities like homos? Is it a desire to be taken seriously or legitimized by the stuffy old homophobic misogynists that still defend that paradigm? That would be like some convoluted case of Stockholm Syndrome– well, yes, we’re the long-bullied, captive minority… but maybe if we can just find something to identify with in the bastards who’ve terrorized us, maybe then they’ll be a bit nicer to us?

  • Ken S

    @nikko: “The male/female paradigm is delicate, and encouraging whoremonging is a moral breakdoen [sic] of society, not freedom.”

    Oh, really, it’s a “delicate” paradigm? In what century, pray tell? I sometimes joke with my cute straight guy friends that women are “practically an alien species” that men have stumbled into “an uncomfortable but useful reproductive, utilitarian relationship” with, but Christ, it sounds like you’d take that seriously? We aren’t in some fragile symbiosis– women aren’t *bees!*

    You *do* realize that your ‘delicate male/female paradigm’ has morphed and changed and shapeshifted- like- a million different ways during humanity’s biological and social evolution… right? Despite what the backwards regressives and social conservatives and bibble-thumping shamans would have us believe, History didn’t start 6000 years ago. And it isn’t dead, either. Read up a little. To the classical Greeks and Romans women were *so* sex-crazed that their passions represented a threat to men’s reason & rationality, and wives were best kept in their own wing of the house. A few centuries later, men used to *buy* their wives. Like, with livestock. Not that long ago, girls who got pregnant out of wedlock got locked away out of sight to bear their bastards in secret disgrace.

    But today there are *unowned* women successfully raising children just fine on their own. Imagine! If civilization could survive the changes it has already– changes you sound kind of oblivious to– then I’m pretty sure it can survive “chicks fuckin’ around.” Lots of them already are. Lots of em are loving it. Even more are still too ashamed, thank you very much Society, to admit just how much they love fuckin– especially since the advent of birth control mitigated some of that “investment” that I keep hearing people refer to as some insurmountable disincentive for them to fuck.

    Gotta wonder: to all those guys speaking for women and how ‘unlike men’ they are in their apparent lack-of-sexual-appetites… how many women do you actually *know?* Because I know that gay men sometimes insulate themselves from chicks, so maybe you just can’t help but not know any different. Admittedly, I don’t even have a fag-hag, but the women have been friends with over the years… I never once heard any of them say that they disliked sex, or were getting too much sex, or whatever. Quite the opposite. But ask them for some poll “hey there ma’am, do you fuckin’ LOVE sex, or are you a good girl,” and you’re gonna get a poll that says women are frosty bitches.

  • jeffree

    Yay @Ken S. Another great post.
    You got that right.

    Just because I’m personally wired for monogymy –or however that’s spelled– doesn’t mean every one else should be. My only “should” is that we need to play safe. i see way too many guys my age thinking they don’t have 2 use protection because there are “pills” in case they “get sick” –those ads we see in the LGB press seriously down play the side effects…

  • Travis Sandoval

    Most of my straight friends look down on Grindr and the fact that I use it. I’m not sure they’d flock to a straight version…

  • nikko

    KenS, your points are valid, I don’t have a problem with them, but BENR stated what I feel better than I did.. Both sides can be true, that women would be more vulnerable to vioence and would pay a heavier burden(physically and emotionally), etc. etc.,

  • Ken S

    @jeffree: Well on that I agree emphatically; if people are going to have lots of sex then absolutely, they should be *responsible* about it. They should avoid betraying or being a party to the betrayal of anybody (ie. cheating if a relationship doesn’t permit sex with other people) because that’s harmful. They should be up-front with any information they have regarding their health (any transmissible ailments, etc) so that everyone involved can make an informed decision to consent. And they should take precautions to protect themselves and their partner(s).

    And as long as they do that, then I’m all for people having as much pleasure as their central nervous system can handle.

  • lfivepoints69

    @Jason Dancin’: Don’t give up on love. I’ve been with my husband for 11 years and we’re still madly in love. I know many gay male couples who’ve been together more than 20 or 30 years and have awesome marriages. One male couple at my church has been together for more than 40 years.

  • lfivepoints69

    @nikko: Heterosexual bathhouses, sex clubs, and swingers groups do very well in every community in America, including small towns in Utah. So, your assertion on that front is clearly based on an ignorance of the facts.

  • Swirly1129

    The straight girls are already taking over the gay bars (bachlorette parties!!!!) – why not Grindr now. Ugh!

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