Him: Hi! You look so cute!
Me: Thanks, mind sharing a photo?
Him: You first.
Me: I have five photos of mine on the DP, please
have a look.
Him: Send nudes (an unsolicited dick pic pops up along with the message)
Me: I am not interested in hook-ups or in dick pics.
Him: Ok Bye! You ugly fatty! (I get blocked)

This is just an example of a regular chat on Grindr. But it isn’t very different from chats on Blued or Scruff or any of the gazillion gay dating apps available on app stores today.

Being gay men, we’re all vulnerable or are pushed towards vulnerability — and these dating apps do play a pivotal part in making gay men even more vulnerable online. The constant urge of validation… seeking for approval… lead to terrible habits that just further the downward spiral.

Talking about gay dating apps, one can never deny the amount of racism, fat shaming, ageism and classism/casteism people have to deal with. As an individual I’ve personally gone through each of these situations — slurs, hate comments, uncalled for toxicity and it often just gets worse.

“Oh! You’re from Assam? You still live on tree houses, no?”
“No chinkies, No beef and pork eating Chinese.”

These are just some of the ‘preferences’ proudly advertised on some profiles on Grindr — the most popular gay dating app in the English-speaking world and in India too. There are people in cities like Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai who still think that being from the North East is all about jungles, pork consumption and wait for it… cannibalism!

“No chubby, fatty, bulky, ugly belly, ugly looking pigs.”
“No skinny, no twinks… please stay away, no offence but just a choice.”

I mean these ‘choices’ and ‘preferences’ can be discussed on private chats with potential dates in a much more matured and sensible way, no? There’s always an option of saying no in a polite way. But why bother! What are we trying to prove here? Who is anyone to decide what’s ugly and beautiful? Why can’t we just let people be? And every single time you remind someone about how cruel they are being, pat comes the reply: hey it’s just my type/preference. I am allowed that, okay!

A friend of mine also tells me, it’s not uncommon for people to ask about religion, caste, dietary preferences and sometimes even if you have a girl of marriageable age at home!

What have we become as a community? Why are we so inconsiderate to our own people?

Well it would be wrong on my part to generalize the whole community to be inconsiderate, as I have personally befriended so many people from these apps, and they are still in my life.

People do find relationships, love, friends from these convenient platforms, but the harsh and dark realities cannot be brushed under the carpet. As a community we need to come closer and support one another. I would love to see the day when these dating platforms are free of prejudice and spread love and only love. Equality and acceptance needs to prevail within the community and only then, can one expect real change.

write to us at editor.provoke@paulsons.in