Grindr, like the Amy Winehouse version of love, is a losing game. My lousy failure-to-success ratio with the dating/hook-up app backs it up.
If you’ve read any of my race- and dating-themed essays and wondered why the hell I keep going back to the grid, join the club. Have a seat next to some of my best friends. They’d like to know, too.
For the record, I do it, in (smallish) part, because I get as horny as the next guy.
I’ve more or less outgrown quickies, but great lips are sometimes as important as a beautiful mind. Grindr has the best cheap-thrill delivery.
‘I’m not holding out for a hero on Grindr’
More than cheap nothings, though, I do Grindr for the stories.
Not love stories. After nearly six years, Grindr has yet to launch a single one of those. I haven’t given up on love stories in theory, but I’m not holding out for a hero on Grindr.
I keep going back to the grid because it gives me so many stories that inspire me to write: Why Gay White Men (And White People In General) Need To Stop Joking About Race, What being a gay black man has taught me about the sexual objectification of women, To Horny Gay White Men…. Even my book – Is It True What They Say About Black Men? – owes much of its content to experiences and epiphanies I’ve had while manhunting online.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m actively ‘looking for’ material when I log on, but I know I’ll usually stumble upon something worth writing about.
‘Grindr reveals the awful, ugly truth about the psyche of gay men… of men in general’
The essays Grindr inspires aren’t its only fringe benefit. It also tightens my grip on gay reality.
On most days, especially in the wee, small hours, Grindr reveals the awful, ugly truth about the psyche of gay men… of men in general. Like social media, it allows its users to hide behind a screen and say/ask the things they probably would never say/ask in real life.
It’s where many gay men go to be their true selves (particularly between midnight and 6am).
Take Anonymous Guy in Ljubljana, Slovenia. I knew from ‘What’s up’ in his second message, that he wouldn’t be offering much. When he got around to ‘looking for?’ it was obvious he hadn’t even bothered to read my profile.
Pretty straightforward, right? I even go so far as to tick ‘Dates’ under ‘Looking For’ lower down, lest potential suitors mistakenly think I came to chat, make friends, network, fall in love, or get naked right now. Still, probably 50 per cent of the guys who approach me end up asking the inevitable anyway.
(P.S. ‘What’s up?’ – so innocuous it’s lethal – is one of the brightest red flags on Grindr, by the way. No guy who’s asked has ever gone on to say anything remotely worthwhile.)
This is what happened after I called him out on it.
Why is a “bitchy negro” worse than bitchy in any other color? Is it because gay black men, so desperate and inferior, should be grateful that a gay white man would bestow upon us any attention at all?
I doubt there’s a privileged white man alive who would characterize the no-bullshittin’ of ten consecutive white men as a white male thing.
But when one woman or one person of color isn’t appropriately deferential, when one woman or one person of color is or isn’t anything, so many of those privileged white men are so often and so quickly inclined to brand it a gender/race thing. Do they even listen to themselves?
Clearly Anonymous Guy has race/rage issues. I suspect previous ‘bitchy negro’ encounters fueled his racial animosity, and he dumped it all on me.
‘”Bad” black attitude’
He’s certainly not the first GWM to go there with me. I regularly get similar messages from angry, rejected ones that refer to an apparently rampant ‘bad’ black attitude. Hell, I’ve had them bring it up to my face.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they were simultaneously thinking: If only I wielded the power my ancestors did to use whips and chains to keep you boys in line.
I responded to Anonymous Guy: Racist white boy. Even worse. Then he blocked me.
Considering that black is so deplorable to men like him (clearly it is, right?), why do they continue to chase it? Of course, as I’ve pointed out in many previous Grindr-inspired posts, there’s a thin line between out-of-control raging lust and out-of-control raging racism.
I’ll pass on grid guys who, like Anonymous, toe that thin line. He committed too many deal breakers in five minutes. On the plus side, it took me roughly one minute more than the running time of Elton John’s The Bitch Is Back to write him off completely. I could hit the gym, which was actually why I’d woken up at 5am, and start this piece well before sunrise.
The only way is still up. The great thing about being a ‘bitchy negro’ is that it will take a lot more than a bitchy bigot to ever bring me down.
A version of this column first on Medium – reprinted with permission. Jeremy Helligar’s book, Is It True What They Say About Black Men?: Tales of Love, Lust and Language Barriers on the Other Side of the World, is available via Amazon.