Is Grindr Really A Great Example Of Gay Pride?

Psychology Today had an interesting post on its website in honor of June being Pride Month: Pyschotherapist Melissa Ritter laid out the argument that Grindr, the ubiquitous geo-social hookup app, is a wonderful example of how far the gay-male community has come.

Uh, really?

How extraordinary that wherever a gay man lives or travels, he can instantly find other gay men. He need never feel alone, that he is the “only one.” He’s not forced to search out the often marginalized gay ghettos that continue to offer much needed comradarie and support.

The Grindr screen display is a riotous grid of various photos of men—smiling, open faces, as well as lots of body shots–arranged from nearest to farthest away. Tap on a picture and the user receives a brief profile, including the precise distance from that person provided in increments of feet or miles. There are options to chat, send pictures and share location.

There is an immediacy and intimacy this app offers that distinguishes it from internet sites providing gay men with access to one another. A few taps and you’ve got a whole group of guys who are hanging out in both your cyber and actual neighborhood.

Sure it’s nice that gay men no longer have to hide in shame, but has Ritter actually seen how most men use Grindr? We’re not meeting up to play trust games or form a drum circle.

In her essay, Ritter shares anecdotes from her patients: One who checks Grindr on a road trip with his partner,  just to know “they were not the only two gay men around.” And another who told her about a board-game night where everyone logged on, just to see who was “cute.”

“No one had any intention of leaving the gathering to hook up and no one did,” she explains. “But they were able to feel part of a larger gay community, and to talk playfully and frankly about sex.”

Thanks Dr. Ritter, but gay men have been able to talk playfully and frankly about sex long before hookup apps came on the scene.

Look, we enjoy Grindr as much as the next ‘mo, but its hardly a shining example of how much we’ve accomplished. Not to mention we kind of suspect Ritter’s patients aren’t being totally honest with her about when and why they check the site. How many of us have felt ignored as our buddies stared blankly at a screen checkered with ab shots?

And with all of her talk of the “furtiveness and fear” surrounding homosexuality—and the supposed impossibility of courtship and marriage—it kind of sounds like the good doctor is trapped in the 1970s, when even having gay sex was a political statement.

Today, it’s pretty much just sex.

Grindr is about many things. Sex is one of them, an important one of them. But it is also a place to make friends, combat loneliness, diminish shame and to celebrate gay male identity. Sadly, a part of that identity sometimes includes some self-reproach. Nonetheless, a defiant openness and optimism prevails. And that’s what Gay Pride is about.

Sorry, Doc: There’s nothing wrong with using Grindr—or Manhunt, any other tool to help you land a guy—but as we approach full equality on all fronts, we’d like to think gay men have accomplished more than figure out how to hook up faster and more often.

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  • QJ201

    Yeah cause her patients are great example of why men are on Grindr.

    Although when it comes to pride…seems to have become standard shtick for Drag Queens and comics to log in and start reading profiles over the mic.

  • oh but

    Before Stonewall, gay men were forced to compartmentalize their sexuality.

    Since Stonewall, have chosen to find ways to continue to compartmentalize our sexuality.

    It’s kinda weird.

  • Marcel Wiel

    I don’t like it when straight people make comments about gay men, gay sex, etc. The negatives ones naturally make me angry, but the positive ones are just embarrassing.
    What the f**k do they know?
    Either way, they are usually inaccurate generalisations.
    I don’t mean to be rude, but the biggest favour gay-friendly straight people can do for LGBTs is not get in our way in our fight for equal rights and vote the right way when required.
    And as for the sickly sweet-Waltons Mountain-ain’t gay men lovely people bullshit, save it for the Hallmark Channel … please.

  • jason

    The gay male “community” is built on a sex act. In actual fact, you cannot build a community on a sex act without sowing the seeds of your own destruction.

    Grindr is just cheap hook-ups for the desperate. Not for me, thanks.

  • Aaron Coleman

    @oh but: Interesting theory. Do you mind elaborating?

  • Joe

    @jason: Jason, you make laugh you fool.

  • Brian

    @jason: spot on my observation too!

  • RomanHans

    If Jason didn’t have quite so much time on his hands maybe the discussions here wouldn’t always get derailed into stupidity.

  • NorthCarolinaGuy

    I love Manhunt! Manhunt, manhunt manhunt :)

  • Jose

    I use grindr and I’ve never used it to hook up, unless you count my boyfriend of a year. :) Most of the time just to chat or see if anyone is near.

  • Paul Joseph

    Honestly It is so sad to highlight the worst in us. However that is all most can see. Those who learned the simple lesson that who you sleep with doesn’t equal who you are, are hidden from view. Really who wants to be a part of a group of irresponsible peter pans? You know the best way to address inequality is by moving past the trivial and becoming a part of the world. Far too often gay men live in fantasy worlds where nothing bad can happen to them. The sad reality is that we rank high in substance abuse, mental health problems, and suicide. Not to mention we still lead most minority subcategories in terms of STI’s and HIV infections. Add to that how we treat each other within the community at large. We lie, we cheat, we are mean to one another. We can only make the GLBT community better if first we are better individuals. its important to have be proud of you are sure, but that shouldn’t entitle you to act with reckless disregard only to satisfy selfish, superficial impulses. Pride comes personal strength, not your ability to fit in but to stand out. I prefer real pride over ersatz aberzombie pride parties celebrating false pride.

  • n900mixalot

    This site isn’t really any better in the smuttiness department. Just like that app, there are great things here that make it a shining example, but there is a lot of mindless, shirtless, wasteful crap on here too. It is a matter of perspective.

  • Mike

    As far as our community is concerned, Grindr is nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing to be proud of either. It just is.

  • LandStander

    @jason: “The gay male “community” is built on a sex act.”

    Oh really? And what sex act would that be? Oral sex? Anal sex? Mutual masturbation? Dry humping? Did you know that straight people do all these things too? Did you know that not all gay people do?

    The gay male community is built on attraction to men, not any particular type of sex act with them. In fact, you can be gay (attracted to the same gender) and celibate. So you, my friend, are full of $hit :-)

  • Drew

    Grindr is just a took used for casual hook ups/NSA sex nothing more.

    Kiwi uses Grindr to get his arse seeded.

  • Brandon

    Queerty the idea that Grindr is somehow an example of gay/LGBT pride is laughable.

  • Rob

    I don’t use Grindr or any of those apps, am I in the minority?

  • Jim

    Grindr, Adam and Manhunt have all been the opening of the floodgates
    for closeted married men, a group that is the victim of hate from gays.

  • Bill

    Yes that’s true Jim that gay men hate closeted married men.

    I prefer to avoid closeted men since I had bad experiences with them and we didn’t have sex but I figure it’s someone’s personal choice to be married and closeted, as much as it’s my personal choice to be out and not married to anyone. Most gay men and lesbians worldwide are married and closeted.

  • FunMe

    I thought it was Manhunt. Oh wait, then maybe it’s Adam4Adam. You know, the site where “tops” take photos looking like “bottoms”. Maybe it is Grinder.

    At the end, they’re all sex-to-go web sites.

    Would you like some fries with your bottom?

  • GrindrSux

    Oh Jason, you are so silly. EVERYONE knows that NO ONE actually hooks up on Grindr! There’s way too much blocking, ageism, sizeism and general douchebagging going on there for anyone to actually make a connection!

  • B

    No. 17 · Brandon wrote, “Queerty the idea that Grindr is somehow an example of gay/LGBT pride is laughable.”

    The extent to which Grindr is an indication of progress is the extent to which investors were willing to support the development of a gay-oriented cellphone service. It’s not what Grindr does but that someone was willing to put in the effort to develop it.

  • teto

    Grindr is for closetcases, cockteases, cowards and a sprinking of the sex maniacs, as far as I can tell. Just like Craigslist can occasionally be cool but mostly is a sex-crazed cum dumpster. I think Grindr is for voyeurism, mainly. People can pretend it’s an invasion of sex into normalcy.

    Adam4adam is full of nutjobs, of course, but at least it’s got tons of normal people on it, too. And you can have a straightforward sex conversation without feeling bizarro or talking to a torso 24/7.

  • OutMaturity

    What has always fascinated me about Grindr, Manhunt, Adam4Adam and sites like those is that the same guys are on there, that are also on and other “mainstream” dating sites. Sites specializing in finding you “love”!

    I know many of my buddies who are on, they tell me that they are looking for the “one”, yet they are on Grindr and other supposed “hook-up” sites too!

    I think for most of us, Grindr is much like the bars were in the 70-80’s, just another way to meet other gay men! Perhaps to even fall in love or at least like!

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