Dating apps are big business. A Chinese company recently paid, in two investment rounds, almost $250million to purchase Grindr, while Hornet raised $8million in investment money from another Chinese company.
However, news of a new dating app has raised a few eyebrows. A press release for DaddyBear describes it as ‘a private gay dating app that connects gay sugar daddies and gay bears.
‘It offers all the possibilities for wealthy gay daddies and healthy gay men or bears.’
The brand’s Marketing Manager, referred to only as Robert, says, ‘Our team behind this gay dating app has spent a long time studying people in gay support and discovering the factors that makes gay sugar daddies and gay bears truly compatible, which is the idea of creating DaddyBear.’
On the app’s desktop site, it explains the reasons why younger gay men should think about dating a rich sugar daddy.
‘Gay Daddies can share sexual experiences with you and help find out your special identity, because they have more life experiences to help you explore more new areas you never know.
‘Most mature gay daddies grew up under the macro environment of AIDS epidemic and scare, so they know how to protect themselves and you, and enjoy safe sex with you.’
In somewhat broken English, it goes on to say: ‘Gay Daddies are successful or rich men who have more money and social wealth than you do. They did never marry and will life with you without kids, so they must be happy to give you more support and help including your occupational plan.’
Sugar daddy apps
The rise in sugar daddy apps is not new. A leading sugar daddy app in the UK last year claimed that it had a quarter of a million students as members, with some younger women relying on sugar daddy relationship to help pay their way through college. It didn’t state how many were ‘active’ users.
However, the marketing of DaddyBear has been questioned by some.
‘My alarm bells start to ring when I see people on apps talking about “healthy” gay men. Most of the time this seems to be a code for HIV-negative,’ says Matthew Hodson, Executive Director of HIV advocacy and education organization NAM.
‘People with HIV on treatment now have a near normal life expectancy. What’s more, effective HIV treatment means we can’t pass the virus on to our sexual partners. The greatest challenge for many people living with HIV now is dealing with HIV stigma, which is fuelled by outdated attitudes, ignorance and fear.
‘Almost every person I know who lives openly with HIV has been rejected because of their status. People are often shamed and insulted on dating apps if they disclose. I fear that apps for “healthy gay men” may encourage these attitudes.’
A spokesperson for London gay club night Come To Daddy told GSN, ‘Why stress users are “healthy”? And going by the imagery they’re using, do they even know what daddies and bears are? I wouldn’t bother giving them the free publicity.’
GSN has approached DaddyBear to ask why it is marketed for ‘healthy’ gay men.