The Surprising Humanity of Grindr

Published in Esperanto Magazine:

2014 Exploration Edition – (Introductions in the magazine below)

‘The app we only thought of as sexual led Aleczander Gamboa to a lifelong friend.’

Download the entire issue here.

By Aleczander Gamboa

You meet the most intriguing people on Grindr.

For those unaware of its existence, let me explain what Grindr is first. A social networking app specifically targeted towards gay men, it works by tracking down other gay men in your area. It’s a standard online dating app – though the word ‘dating’ should be used loosely, considering the vast majority of gay guys (including myself at times) have used the app to either:

a)     Find a regular fuck buddy or

b)     Seek sexy strangers (who you will probably never see again) for a quick romp

In other words, it’s an app for horny gay men to meet so they can then do horny gay things to each other to satiate their ongoing gay horniness.

Or at least, that’s what I thought, until I met Nick*.

Out of sheer boredom with no plans for the weekend, I was traversing through numerous Grindr profiles one day when the notification sound alerted me to a new message.

“Hi, how are you?”

How simple and succinct, I thought. A lot of other guys just send nude pictures to me. Curious, I looked at his profile. His display picture was a headless photo of a man mowing the lawn shirtless. He had a built physique, but not to a point where it became unsightly. I couldn’t stop staring at it – I was memorised. However when I looked at how old he was I became a little apprehensive as he was twice my age. Nevertheless, he was only asking a polite question, so it’d be rude not to reply, right? Deciding to take a leap of faith, I wrote,

“I’m good thanks, how has your day been?”

After we both got through the formalities, I learned that his name was Nick and that he worked in the car auctioning business. He was single to mingle, and only lived about three kilometres away from me. As time went on, our occasional chats became more and more frequent as the both of us enjoyed how easy it was to talk to each other (along with some loose flirting here and there.) Eventually, we decided to meet in person – he would pick me up from the train station and we would both go back to his place to “hang out”.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Because we met on Grindr, I thought “hanging out” meant getting my freak on, regardless of the moderate age gap (I never really considered myself an ageist, so really if we were going to have sex I wasn’t about to complain.) Instead what I got was much more cathartic than I had expected at the time.

When he invited me inside his house, Nick indulged me with more details of his life. His family was once considered royalty in the horse racing business in the mid 90’s. Because of their wealth and influence, they were quite prestigious in the media – but that all came crashing down when his parents passed away and his older brother suddenly committed suicide.

“I remember exactly what the funerals were like – it was horrible. I couldn’t even say goodbye to them properly,” he scoffed as he showed me the Wikipedia page detailing his family’s past.

“Because of our fame, the media were all over my older sister and I. They just seemed so fascinated with the deaths of my parents and my brother – they even camped outside the cemetery just to bombard me with questions. Privacy laws weren’t as strong as they are now, so helicopters were even above us broadcasting it live.  I was outraged. It’s like the media had no sense of privacy or humanity during a time where I was meant to grieve.”

By that last sentence, his shoulders had drastically slumped in sadness. I stared at him, and I was immediately hypnotised by the mixture of fire and fury his eyes revealed as he recalled the awful memory. He continued,

“Things obviously got worse – I was betrayed by my sister, someone who I thought would always be there for me. She withdrew our family’s entire fortune and ran away with it. I remember receiving the bank statement saying I had no money left, and with no money I couldn’t pay for anything. Everything was taken away from me – the house, the car, the horses – I was left with nothing, and the only sibling I had left abandoned me to continue living a lavish lifestyle. That’s something I can never forgive,” he said.

Penniless and homeless, he did the only thing he could do: start from the very bottom. Seeking refuge from his friends, he tirelessly worked several different jobs before climbing the ranks in the car auctioning business. The rest was history, with fate having brought us together as we continued to talk about our lives. He admitted that he used Grindr because he felt lonely, hoping to seek others to have meaningful conversations with rather than casual sex. He had been unsuccessful many times.

Meeting Nick changed my entire perspective about Grindr, but in saying that I would never have known him had I not explored the app in the first place. I was actually the first person he told in detail about his past, as it had been dwelling on him and he wanted to vent about it. Like me, he too took a leap of faith when he messaged me. Clearly it was a good decision, since we’re now great friends.

So to any guy who thinks Grindr is beneath them – take a chance and explore a little. You never know what you’ll get or who you’ll meet. Whether it is a new friend or an impressive collection of dick pictures sent from strangers, you’ll be gaining a reward either way.

*name changed for privacy reasons



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