How Tinder is different when you’re gay

By GILLIAN LELCHUK and JACOB TOOK | March 29, 2018

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DENIS BOCQUET/ CC BY 2.0 Gillian and Jacob have differing views on the benefits of dating apps.

 

 

One defining feature of the modern gay experience is using dating apps. While there are some explicitly gay dating apps (although Grindr can only loosely be called a “dating” app), we also use Tinder and other Straight™ things.

A lot of young people have a complicated relationship with Tinder, not just members of the LGBTQ community. It makes it a lot easier to put yourself out there and meet new people, but it takes away the meet-cute charm of bumping into the love of your life at Starbucks. Dare we say that Tinder is even more complicated for gay people? We dare.

Straight people are always surrounded by other straight people, which means they have a lot of romantic options. There aren’t that many gay people in the world, and we are used to running out of options pretty quickly.

For some, using Tinder is a nice way to meet more gay people without the stress of wondering whether they’re looking for the same thing. For others (like me — Jacob), Tinder takes away some of the charm of meeting people organically.

I like the idea of running into the love of my life in a cafe. I daydream about crushing on a guy for a few weeks, drunk texting him and then striking up a romance. I cannot imagine a better place to meet my future husband than a Lady Gaga concert.

But when I express frustration with boys or my love life, the easy and immediate answer is to just get a Tinder. If I had a quarter for every time someone has told me to get a Tinder, I’d have enough for a ticket to the Lady Gaga concert where my future husband is waiting for me.

The pressure to get a Tinder makes me feel like I can’t have a normal romantic experience. It makes me feel like I’m backed into a corner. The “easy” way out is to get a Tinder, but in reality that’s the only way out.

Gay guys are really in short supply in this world. That’s a great part of being gay, because it connects me to a small community with shared experiences. But it’s also terrible, because it means I’m pretty unlikely to randomly meet the man of my dreams on the street.

Tinder would make it easier to meet other gay guys, but it would make me miss out on what I think of as an essential part of young love.

For straight people, Tinder might be a convenient way to meet new people or arrange an easy hookup. For me, the overwhelming pressure to use Tinder means that I don’t get to have the meet-cute experience.

Of course, the Straights™ might share some of my concerns: What if that day never comes and they never bump into that person? But how am I supposed to feel knowing that the odds of me meeting just any gay person are slim, much less the love of my life? I’m not exactly brimming with confidence.

Straight people can choose whether to use Tinder or whether to live their lives knowing that they’ll eventually find the right person. As a gay guy, I feel like that choice has already been made for me.

I get what Jacob means about wanting to meet people in real life, but as a generally anxious person, I like that technology that allows me to avoid talking to other humans is readily available. I like that I don’t need to go to a bar or a party or wherever people met each other before smartphones were invented. I like that I can find someone from the comfort of my couch before I head out into the real world to actually get to know them.

Tinder also takes away another layer of anxiety that straight people don’t experience. If I meet a cute girl out in the real world, I get to play a fun game: Is She Gay? I’ve become quite adept at social media stalking to help me answer this question, but I can’t ever know someone’s sexuality for sure. Not everyone co-writes a biweekly column with their orientation in the title.

I can guess, based on her boots and if she wears hats. I can guess, based on which social activism causes she supports. I can guess, based on whether or not she’s mentioned Love, Simon on her Twitter. 

But on Tinder, “Is She Gay?” is no longer relevant. Because the beauty of Tinder is that you only see girls who are into girls. No more guessing. 

Of course, there are the “looking for friends” girls and the “looking for a fun time with me and my boyfriend” girls, but they’re pretty easy to weed out. But then I find the next problem — swiping through every queer woman within a three-mile radius. 

I’d run into that problem in real life too, though, wouldn’t I? I know a lot of queer women, sure. But if you take out all of my friends and the ones I’ve already dated and the ones who have dated the ones I’ve dated, how many people are actually left? Do straight people have this problem?

No, they don’t. Straight people can meet each other in Tinder or in real life, and they don’t question their romantic or sexual interest’s sexuality. If they’re worried about finding someone, they can flirt with their barista or their TA or their Blue Jay Shuttle driver.

When gay people worry about finding that special someone, we don’t have a lot of options. We can listen to Straights™ whine about not having available bachelorex (the plural, gender-neutral word for bachelor/bachelorette that we just made up), but we’re pretty sure that’s just because straight people like to complain.

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