Doped up out­rage over Olympics Grindr con­tro­versy

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

My sec­ond re­la­tion­ship lasted one-anda-half years, which was about six months longer than it should have, mainly be­cause I didn’t want to lose the goo­gly-eyed tale of how we met. One of the things that made it such a great story, in 2005, was that our meet­ing took place in the real world, in a gro­cery store to be ex­act.

So I con­fess to ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a bit of a let­down when­ever I told the story of how I met my third boyfriend: in an on­line three­some.

I had been us­ing the in­ter­net to meet guys for about seven years at that point, but the con­cept of “on­line dat­ing” was still so­cially taboo, hav­ing in­her­ited the aura of des­per­a­tion that news­pa­per per­son­als and mail-or­der brides once had. Even though gay men were pi­o­neers in us­ing the in­ter­net to find part­ners, there re­mained great cyn­i­cism to­ward the idea that a long-term re­la­tion­ship could be kin­dled on Men4Now or Man­hunt.

I’m not sure gay men get enough credit for re­duc­ing (or ig­nor­ing) the stigma of on­line dat­ing, but nowa­days it’s likely that your fa­ther met your new step­mother on eHar­mony, or that you’ve heard your greataunt’s cell phone buzzing with Tin­der no­ti­fi­ca­tions. Given gay men’s his­tory and fa­mil­iar­ity with on­line dat­ing and hook-up sites, I was sur­prised by the out­rage over an ar­ti­cle on the Daily Beast where a het­ero­sex­ual writer pro­filed the Grindr scene in the Olympic Vil­lage.

With ex­ag­ger­ated in­dig­na­tion, the Daily Beast re­port was la­beled every­thing from ho­mo­pho­bic to cy­ber ter­ror­ism. Sev­eral gay ac­tivists, as well as Grindr CEO Joel Simkhai, laugh­ably char­ac­ter­ized Grindr and other on­line hook-up sites as “a safe space for the gay world” – which would sur­prise any gay man who is over­weight, ef­fem­i­nate or over 40.

The big­gest griev­ance with the Daily Beast ar­ti­cle was that it sup­pos­edly in­cluded de­tails that could be used to iden­tify clos­eted ath­letes from re­pres­sive coun­tries, and thus en­dan­gered those ath­letes when they re­turned home. There was no con­sid­er­a­tion for those coun­tries likely hav­ing more Grindr users than Daily Beast read­ers, or that an elite ath­lete from Kenya is just as likely to live and train in Naples. Fla., as in Nairobi.

It also ig­nored that in many coun­tries where LGBT folks en­dure dire per­se­cu­tion, Grindr and other apps of­ten in­clude a warn­ing for users to cruise care­fully to avoid en­trap­ment and other dan­gers. It’s naive to pre­tend that men from these coun­tries don’t know how to safely search for sex part­ners, and it’s con­de­scend­ing to as­sume that these men are vic­tims rather than sub­jects of unin­spired jour­nal­ism.

De­spite what this con­tro­versy would like you to be­lieve, on­line hook-up sites are not, and never have been, shel­ters for LGBT peo­ple. They can be com­pro­mised by your cu­ri­ous fe­male neigh­bor, a ho­mo­pho­bic co­worker, bit­ter cat­fish who will mis­ap­pro­pri­ate your pho­tos, or an armed rob­ber look­ing to prey on gays -- and so ev­ery gay man on the planet should main­tain some base­line level of cau­tion when log­ging onto them.

If out­rage were a sanc­tioned sport, the LGBT (and al­lied) re­sponse to the Daily Beast “con­tro­versy” would be guilty of per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing dop­ing. Ryan Lee is an At­lanta writer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.