Cruising Redefined: Grindr

Calling all gay, bi-sexual, and curious men! Want to get laid tonight but you still haven’t showered and don’t feel like leaving your apartment? There’s an app for that! Grindr- For those looking for a quick rendezvous, whether it be a date or something much raunchier, or perhaps just a night of sexting and an adequate, though temporary, fix for loneliness.   grindr2Ah, yes. Grindr. Today’s modern version of cruising.

Technology has reached an ultimate high. Available on smartphones, Grindr is the first and leading app of its kind. So brilliant yet elegantly simple, It is an all-male location-based social network. Using the GPS function of a smartphone, users can locate other gay men within a relative proximity, scroll through their pictures, read some information about them, and send a message, photo, or location.

“Grindr is a very, very visual experience. I’m not really a big believer in words.”- Joel Simkhai, CEO, Grindr

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“Outside the gay community, people would probably say it’s just a hookup app, and absolutely, sex is going on. But it’s more than that, because there’s always the possibility you will hit the jackpot and find someone who will move you. It has this potential for making a huge impact in your life.”- Joel Simkhai, CEO, Grindr

Joel Simkhai, Grindr’s mastermind, was born in Tel Aviv, Israel and moved to New York with his family when he was 3-years-old. He graduated from Tufts University with degrees in economics and international relations. With $2,000 and the help of a Scandinavian software developer, Simkhai began working on Grindr, an app he had “rattling in his mind” for awhile. When the technology became available, he jumped on the opportunity to make Grindr his baby. Launched in 2009, Grindr today has an estimated 4 million users and is available in 192 countries, including places where being openly gay can mean death.

What’s with the Name and Mask Logo?

Simkhai says that the word Grindr comes from a coffee grinder. Mixing people together. “It is a little bit rough – not to mix, but to grind.” It is tough, and masculine, and sexy. The logo is a mask because they wanted to create something primal, like an African tribe mask, since socialization is a primitive, basic human need.

Simkhai has also created a program called Grindr For Equality, as a way to reach out to this huge global network of gay men and encourage them to get involved in the gay rights movement, by providing them with contacts and information about politicians who are struggling with interfacing the gay community.

Grindr is today’s cruising. In William Friedkin’s Cruising we see Al Pacino hanging around New York City’s grimiest S&M bars. In Interior. Leather Bar., we learn about James Franco’s fascination with the underground gay cruising culture. Although Grindr may lack the eye contact and boldness that cruising entails, it is a safe and comfortable way for gay men to meet other gay men.

Though it may seem funny or trivial from an outside perspective, Grindr has, and will continue to have a huge impact on gay male culture. Instead of hanging around suspect urban areas, Grindr provides males with a safe platform to explore their own sexuality and text other gay males. From the safety and comfort of their own homes, I believe that most gay young boys today will begin their sexual journeys on Grindr, at their own pace. If the narrator of Torres’s “We the Animals” had Grindr, would the ending have been any different? Maybe instead of furiously writing about his darkest and deepest fantasies in his diaries and secretly hanging around mens’ bathrooms, he could have connected with other young gay boys in his area who are like him. On page 111, he says, “Maybe it was true. Maybe there was no other boy like me, anywhere.” If Grindr was available to him, I think we could have seen a drastically different ending. Perhaps he would have broken away from his suffocating, tight-knit, yet destructive family unit, and connected with someone who understands him.

I am excited to see how Grindr will change and enhance gay culture in the future to come. Though people may scoff at Grindr as being nothing but a hook-up app, it is a way for gay men to get to know people around them who they may otherwise have never known. I believe that connecting humanity with each other, regardless of the platform, is a true benefit to mankind.