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Are hookup apps gay, right?

Gay man on his phone with a rainbow colored case.

Every Pride season, it’s important to think about the challenges the LGBTQ+ community still faces, like… finding a functional hookup app!

An X user recently complained about the state of the gay app world, citing problems with the three most popular companies. “grindr is glitchy as hell. scruff does not have enough users. sniffles feels like you’re risking your life for a date. Why can’t we have a functional hook-up app that doesn’t suck?

Unsurprisingly, the question provoked hundreds of passionate responses. Fellow Online Gays™ debated the merits of each specific app and was active with it at all. Some lamented hookup culture, while others begged Grindr-obsessed gays to read a book. But one of the most interesting answers came in the form of a question.

“I hear you. The online landscape is kind of a dumpster fire,” says Dr. Patrick Lockwood, an LA psychologist. “It’s (remarkably) fascinating that life is so good for us that we have these kinds of complaints.”

Lockwood’s question is interesting, but it’s worth noting that he’s speaking to a very specific breed of gay men: cisgender men who live in large urban areas. People now expect to have a city at their fingertips, with torso photos filling their phone screens.

Have we become spoiled? Do gay rights now also include… gay hookup apps?

Online dating, a perennial topic, remains popular among LGBTQ+ people. Lesbian, gay and bi-Americans are much more likely to say they have used an online dating app than straight people, according to a 2022 Pew Research Center survey. For queer people the figure jumps to 51%, while for straight people it is 28%.

But even two years ago the landscape was different. Apps are always going through updaters and tinkering with the user experience.

Grindr has come under fire in recent months for putting previously free features behind paywalls. Meanwhile, Sniffies, which calls itself the “fastest growing” platform for queer users, now offers people on the hunt the ability to filter their options.

Just two weeks ago, Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd disrupted the crowd when she suggested that AI bots were the future of online dating.

“There’s a world where your dating concierge can date another dating concierge for you… and you don’t have to talk to 600 people,” she said.

While Wolfe Herd’s prediction caused widespread consternation, the truth is that dating apps have already been tampered with. Researchers have found that attractive users are more likely to be recommended by the platforms’ algorithms. We also know that dating and hookup apps are full of toxicity (no fats, no fems, etc)…

Those may be even more reasons to put down the phone and head to the bar, although that brings a separate list of complications. Before apps, bars were the physical town squares of many gay neighborhoods, providing support and community.

They also represent drinking, sometimes in excess. LGBTQ+ people are much more likely to experience alcohol dependence than straight people. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing that bars are no longer the center of the gay hookup universe.

Besides creating a profile or looking for a bar stool, there are of course many more ways to meet guys: join a club, go to cultural events, talk to strangers. But some enjoy the convenience and accessibility that apps provide. Finding companionship isn’t easy, and hookup apps provide a necessary outlet.

Moreover, you can order chicken tenders late at night And dessert with just a few fingers. What’s the problem with that?

Besides, there are plenty of people who find their partners through the apps, believe it or not…

On the other hand, it’s not like hook-up culture wasn’t widespread among men of previous generations. It was just called something else: cruising! The act will always be part of gay life, just in different forms.

What do you think? Are we too reliant on hookup apps, or should we embrace them this Pride season? Let us know in the comments below!

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