I barely go out to the gay bars. After a certain age, it lost it’s magic for me especially since I am more about being sober than the latest Madonna song being played eight times in one night. When I do go it’s usual with a few friends that are just wanting to dance and enjoy the friendship among our fellow gays. That was always my goal in going out. It was about enjoying my friends and if I got hit on and a date from some random hot guy…bonus. But these days who needs the gay bar for a date? No one has to get out of bed to set up an evening out or casual hook up thanks to “dating” apps like Scruff, Grindr and Jack’d. I’ve used them, and they serve whatever purpose you decide to use them for, however I’m curious why they are utilized in a sea of gay men at the clubs?
Remember being at the bar, seeing an attractive man, and thinking about how to actually begin a conversation. That moment of eyes meeting and anticipation was every emotion rolled into one; from sobering and scary to exciting and magical. It was more so playing with your optimism and possibilities of finally ending the dance for “the one,” but no more people. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve been to the bars, at a house party, or even at pride and people are still using those apps. No one takes a chance anymore, instead they want certainty and caution. The apps provide a shield from in your face rejection, but also take the magic out of initial spark. I would call anyone a liar if they said they found the same heart-racing, sweaty palms, dizzy with excitement feeling messaging some torso or nude shoot on adam4adam they use to have when locking eyes on that one guy at the club.
I understand rejection is hard. I’ve had my share, but I feel like I needed them to become comfortable in my own skin. Being HIV positive, I can say I like being able to slap that label in my profile and feel more steady that those interested are okay with my status. But even then I find many who saw nothing but my tattoos or my long dreadlocks, missing my Buddhism, writing and yes my status. The fact is conversations still need to happen so why not just get the face to face vibe that will still be required anyway? It’s called fear and really fear shows in your profile too. I can’t count how many pessimistic profiles I’ve seen, not just stating their “preferences” in race, height and sexual positions, but pretty much putting up warning signs of incompatibility and disbelief in the practice of dating. For them, maybe the apps are better than face to face rejection, but how will one ever know relying solely on those things?
I’m someone who doesn’t really care for the apps any longer. They have been put in aside, used mostly when friends to check how accurate our gaydar is, sometimes used to check if other friends are being well, frisky. I’ve decided I want to meet a gay man in the wild, not behind a screen with the ability to create whatever image they feel will get them maximum results. I for one remember sucking in my gut, shifting to my good side, and adding in some low lights to enhance my photo appeal. And who hasn’t edited there profile over and over after negative feedback, or spotting a profile that you felt may be as successful to you as it has for them? It’s too much of a game and getting to the real tends to only happen after a first meeting. So why be on them all the time, even when that guy really is sitting across the bar from you?
Speaking of across the bar, I actually had a friend on Scruff talking to a guy maybe 10 feet away. He showed me his picture and what they two were saying, as I looked up and spotted the guy watching us. They both knew and it took them saying on the silly app to come over for anything else to get started. As odd as you might think this behavior is, it’s become par for the course and I wont be participating.
I miss the old magic. I even miss the old rejection, because at least then I felt like I tried and dared myself not to assume the worse. On the apps, I purposefully used to message guys that I knew would have rejected me at the bars just to make sure I remember what rejection feels like, because it’s easy to just message the sure thing on those sites. Even the sure thing has drama and strings attached usually not revealing incompatible characteristics until face to face ( most times after the carnal pleasures have been fulfilled). This is the current trend, and as I decide to be more old school, I am distanced from my community and therefore perpetually single.
I can’t end anything with doom and gloom so here’s the finale: stop it. The most maddening things is how often I hear my friends and random people discuss their disdain for the need of the apps, the games that accompany them, and their desire to just find a good guy. The fact is they still use them, with all signs pointing to the only real, albeit less than effective purpose is to get laid. So I will say it again, stop it. Stop being at pride and checking Scruff. Stop being on a date and checking Grindr in the bathroom. Stop eroding the process of dating to a left or right swipe and get back to basics.
Love isn’t a click away, it’s sitting across from you while you are looking down.