Showing posts with label Dating Apps. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dating Apps. Show all posts

January 1, 2020

New Study Raises Questions About Dating Apps Which Might Be Making Gay Men Lonely


Karen L. Blair Ph.D.

A new study of gay men’s use of dating apps raises questions about whether the technology intended to make our (love) lives easier may be getting in the way of happiness. In a recent study published in Psychology & Sexuality, researchers from the U.K. explored the motivations and outcomes associated with using various gay dating apps among a sample of 191 gay and bisexual men.1 The researchers were interested in better understanding the conflicting research to date that points to both the positive and negative consequences of using gay dating apps, such as Grindr.
It wasn’t long ago that individuals within the LGBTQ community were at the forefront of online dating, adopting it earlier and more frequently than their heterosexual counterparts. To many in the LGBTQ community, the opportunity to find dates online provided increased safety by knowing a potential date’s sexual identity before asking them out, allowed users to connect outside of the bar scene, and made it possible to connect with people across geographic boundaries. While online dating may have started out with a focus on seeking romantic relationships, many have expressed concern that the advent of smartphone dating applications that allow users to see others based on proximity has put a greater focus on more superficial sexual relationships.
While there is nothing wrong with such relationships, the dominance of apps catering to sexual relationships may be making it more challenging for individuals seeking longterm relationships or friendships within the LGBT community. Consequently, researchers have begun examining how an individual’s specific goals and reasons for using gay dating apps may play a crucial role in determining whether the use of gay dating apps has positive or negative consequences for their overall wellbeing.
Most of the men in the study were single at the time of participating (60.2 percent), while 21 percent reported that they were in an open relationship and 18.8 percent reported that they were in an exclusive relationship. Participants completed an online questionnaire in which they answered questions about their sense of belonging within the LGBT community, their self-esteemloneliness, life satisfaction, and their overall frequency and intensity of using various gay dating apps. For example, they were asked how often they logged into gay dating apps and their primary motivation for doing so, from which they could select the following options: to make new friends, to meet people to have sex with, to find someone to date, to kill time, or to connect with the gay community. Participants could also enter their own reason for using gay dating apps if none of the provided responses were suitable.
The participants in the study reported logging into gay dating apps frequently, with 71.2 percent logging in at least once per day, with the majority of participants logging in 2 to 4 times per day. Just under half of the sample indicated that their primary use for the apps was to meet people for sex. The second most frequently cited reason was to find someone to date, however, this was only selected as a primary reason by 18.9 percent of the participants in the study. The least frequently cited reason for using gay dating apps was to build a sense of connection with the LGBT community.
When looking at all the participants in the sample together, the frequency with which men logged onto the gay dating apps was associated with greater loneliness, reduced life satisfaction, and a reduced sense of connection to the LGBT community. However, given the varied reasons for using gay dating apps, the researchers wanted to see if these associations were the same for individuals who wanted to use the apps primarily to find sexual partners compared to those using the apps for other reasons.
Thus, the question of whether using gay dating apps has negative or positive outcomes for their users really appears to depend on the users’ goals and motivations for using the apps in the first place. This makes sense—if the apps are primarily designed to connect users for brief sexual encounters, then those using the apps to find sex partners will likely be the most satisfied with the outcomes. On the other hand, men seeking relationships, friendships, or community may not be best served through such apps and therefore may experience frustration upon using gay dating apps, which may contribute to reduced well-being.
Thus, this research tells us something important. There’s nothing wrong with the gay dating apps in so far as they provide the service that they are most often used for: connecting individuals looking for sexual encounters. However, this study also points to a need for more apps to enter the market targeted at gay men who are seeking other types of relationships, including friendships, long term romantic partners, and community building. Building apps and platforms specifically for this purpose may create a more balanced experience for gay and bisexual men seeking different types of relationships. Indeed, many men may opt to use both types of apps, one to satisfy their desire for sexual encounters and another to seek out long-term partners and friends. 
The study did not use terms like gay/straight/bisexual, but rather asked men about their attractions and included male participants who were either sexually attracted to men only (90.1 percent) or sexually attracted to both men and women (9.9 percent).
The research discussed in this paper was originally presented in 2018 Preaching to the Choir LGBTQ Psychology Conference in Montreal, Quebec. 2020 Preaching to the Choir Conference will be held in Prague, Czech Republic, July 16-17, 2020. 
Zervoulis, K., Smith, D. S., Reed, R., & Dinos, S. (2019). Use of ‘gay dating apps’ and its relationship with individual well-being and sense of community in men who have sex with men. Psychology & Sexuality, 1-15.
Custer, L., Holmberg, D., Blair, K.L., & Orbuch, T. (2008). "So how did you two meet?" Narratives of relationship initiation. In Susan Sprecher, Amy Wenzel & John Harvey (Eds.), Handbook of Relationship Initiation. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.  

October 10, 2019

On Dating Apps, Let's Just Say "Masc4Masc."

Image result for ellen dating ellen
 Butch Dates Butch

Anyone who’s spent time on gay dating apps on which men connect with other men will have at least seen some form of camp or femme-shaming, whether they recognize it as such or not. The number of guys who define themselves as “straight-acting” or “masc”—and only want to meet other guys who present in the same way—is so widespread that you can buy a hot pink, unicorn-adorned T-shirt sending up the popular shorthand for this: "masc4masc." But as dating apps become more ingrained in modern daily gay culture, camp and femme-shaming on them are becoming not just more sophisticated, but also more shameless.

“I’d say the most frequent question I get asked on Grindr or Scruff is: ‘are you masc?’” says Scott, a 26-year-old gay man from Connecticut. “But some guys use more coded language—like, ‘are you into sports, or do you like hiking?’” Scott says he always tells guys pretty quickly that he’s not masc or straight-acting because he thinks he looks more traditionally “manly” than he feels. “I have a full beard and a fairly hairy body,” he says, “but after I’ve said that, I’ve had guys ask for a voice memo so they can hear if my voice is low enough for them.”

Some guys on dating apps who reject others for being “too camp” or “too femme” wave away any criticism by saying it’s “just a preference.” After all, the heart wants what it wants. But sometimes this preference becomes so firmly embedded in a person’s core that it can curdle into abusive behavior. Ross, a 23-year-old queer person from Glasgow, says he's experienced anti-femme abuse on dating apps from guys that he hasn't even sent a message to. The abuse got so bad when Ross joined Jack'd that he had to delete the app.

"Sometimes I would just get a random message calling me a faggot or sissy, or the person would tell me they’d find me attractive if my nails weren’t painted or I didn’t have makeup on," Ross says. "I’ve also received even more abusive messages telling me I’m 'an embarrassment of a man' and 'a freak’ and things like that.”

On other occasions, Ross says he received a torrent of abuse after he had politely declined a guy who messaged him first. One particularly toxic online encounter sticks in his mind. "This guy’s messages were absolutely vile and all to do with my femme appearance," Ross recalls. "He said 'you ugly camp bastard,' 'you ugly makeup-wearing queen,' and 'you look pussy as fuck.' When he initially messaged me I assumed it was because he found me attractive, so I feel like the femme-phobia and abuse definitely stems from some kind of discomfort these guys feel in themselves."

Charlie Sarson, a doctoral researcher from Birmingham City University who wrote a thesis on how gay men talk about masculinity online, says he isn't surprised that rejection can sometimes lead to abuse. "It's all to do with value," Sarson says. "This guy probably thinks he accrues more value by displaying straight-acting characteristics. So when he's rejected by someone who is presenting online in a more effeminate—or at least not the masculine way—it's a big questioning of this value that he’s spent time trying to curate and maintain."

In his research, Sarson found that guys seeking to “curate” a masc or straight-acting identity typically use a "headless torso" profile pic—a photo that shows their upper body but not their face—or one that otherwise highlights their athleticism. Sarson also found that avowedly masc guys kept their online conversations as terse as possible and chose not to use emoji or colorful language. He adds: “One guy told me he didn't really use punctuation, and especially exclamation marks, because in his words ‘exclamations are the gayest.’”

However, Sarson says we shouldn't presume that dating apps have exacerbated camp and femme-shaming within the LGBTQ community. "It's always existed," he says, citing the hyper-masculine "Gay Clone or “Castro Clone" look of the ‘70s and '80s—gay men who dressed and presented alike, typically with handlebar mustaches and tight Levi’s—which he characterizes as partly "a response to what that scene considered to be the 'too effeminate' and 'flamboyant' nature of the Gay Liberation movement.” This form of reactionary femme-shaming can be traced back to the Stonewall Riots of 1969, which were led by trans women of color, gender-nonconforming folks, and effeminate young men. Flamboyant disco singer Sylvester said in a 1982 interview that he often felt dismissed by gay men who had "gotten all cloned out and down on people being loud, extravagant or different."
The Gay Clone look may have gone out of fashion, but homophobic slurs that feel inherently femme phobic never have: "sissy," "nancy," "nelly," "fairy," "faggy." Even with strides in representation, those words haven't gone out of fashion. Hell, some gay men in the late ‘90s probably felt that Jack—Sean Hayes's unabashedly campy character from Will & Grace—was "too stereotypical" because he was really "too femme."
“I don’t mean to give the masc4masc, femme-hating crowd a pass,” says Ross. “But [I think] many of them may have been raised around people vilifying queer and femme folks. If they weren’t the one getting bullied for ‘acting gay,’ they probably saw where ‘acting gay’ could get you.”

But at the same time, Sarson says we need to address the impact of anti-camp and anti-femme sentiments on younger LGBTQ people who use dating apps. After all, in 2019, downloading Grindr, Scruff or Jack’d still be someone’s first contact with the LGBTQ community. The experiences of Nathan, a 22-year-old gay man from Durban, South Africa, illustrate just how damaging these sentiments can be. "I'm not going to say that what I've encountered on dating apps drove me to space where I was suicidal, but it definitely was a contributing factor," he says. At a low point, Nathan says, he even asked guys on one app "what it was about me that would have to change for them to find me attractive. And all of them said my profile needed to be more manly."

Sarson says he found that avowedly masc guys tend to underline their own straight-acting credentials simply by dismissing campiness. "Their identity was built on rejecting what it wasn't rather than coming out and saying what it actually was," he says. But this doesn't mean their preferences are easy to break down. "I try to avoid talking about masculinity with strangers online," says Scott. "I've never had any luck educating them in the past."

Ultimately, both online and IRL, camp and femme-shaming is a nuanced but deeply ingrained strain of internalized homophobia. The more we talk about it, the more we can understand where it stems from and, hopefully, how to combat it. Until then, whenever someone on a dating app asks for a voice note, you have every right to send a clip of Dame Shirley Bassey singing "I Am What I Am."

November 14, 2018

Chappy A Dating Application Now in Partnership With GLAAD Wants to Make Looking For Date As Easy as Flipping Your Finger


Chappy, the dating app for gay men, has today announced a partnership with GLAAD. As part of the partnership, Chappy will make a donation to GLAAD for each conversation initiated on the dating app, from now throughout 2019.
The company won’t disclose the amount of the donation, but said that it hopes to raise “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Chappy  launched in 2017 to give gay men an authentic, discrimination-free way to connect with one another. The app uses a sliding scale to let users indicate what they’re looking for in a relationship, ranging from “Cute” to “Sexy.” The app has more than 650,000 registered users, and has seen more than 1 billion swipes.
Chappy is backed by Bumble  and controlled by Bumble shareholders, falling under the Badoo umbrella of dating apps. Last month, Bumble named Chappy its official dating app for gay men. As part of that relationship, Bumble and Chappy will be cross-promoting each other’s apps.
Adam Cohen-Aslatei, managing director at Chappy, says the donations to GLAAD will be unrestricted, and can be used by GLAAD however they see fit. Cohen-Aslatei also hopes to contribute to GLAAD’s research projects, and said that he sees the opportunity for the Chappy community to provide data-based insights to that research.
Cohen-Aslatei joins the Chappy team from Jun Group, where he was vice president of marketing. He was appointed to the position last month.
“There are a lot of dating apps out there and a lot of gimmicks out there,” said Cohen-Aslatei. “We’re trying to improve the way the gay community meets each other and thinks about relationships, but also the way they think about their commitment to the community. We’re a relationship and advocacy app, and we want to partner with the right organizations to drive awareness to what we are.”

June 26, 2018

In India Gay Dating Apps Are Seen As Great Help But AreThey Seen As A Target?

                                                    Image result for thief with rainbow mask

Growing up, Divya Roop already knew he was attracted to his own gender but he didn’t want to come out until he became independent. Then, his sister found his alternate Facebook profile and outed him to his family. His father suggested yoga as a cure for homosexuality while his mother rued, “I gave birth to a son, not a hijra (a south Asian pejorative for transgenders).”
Eventually, Roop moved out to keep his family “away from those difficult questions they didn’t want to face before the society,” he told Quartz. The 25-year-old customer-care advisor, who identifies as an androgynous homosexual, now wears a face full of make-up and dons high heels, is a vocal LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer) activist, and part of India’s first gay choir group, Rainbow Voices.
But the struggle is still far from over. For a society that makes the LGBTQ community feel like criminals with its rigid cultural norms and archaic laws, searching for a same-sex partner can be a nightmare. “People are expected to be straight in front of the society, which means you will not find an out and proud person from the community so easily,” Roop said. Meeting someone through friends or at a restaurant is often out of the question.
So, for India’s scatted LGBTQ community, the best bet to find like-minded people is the internet. Dating apps cast a wide net and help find exactly the kind of people you want to be with.
But then, there’s an ugly side to that, too. For instance, anonymity often allows imposters to con genuine users. Besides, identities are often outed unwittingly, which can have catastrophic consequences for those who prefer discretion.

Finding love online

With internet and smartphone penetration on the rise in India, the LGBTQ community is increasingly taking to online dating sites to mingle. Already, around 1.4% or 69,000 of the five million users of US gay dating app Grindr and nearly 3% or 92,000 users of German app Planet Romeo’s three million users are in India. 
But setting up your dating profile can often be like placing a target on your own back.
“With life becoming easier, it has become riskier as well,” Roop said. “There are so many times that people use someone else’s pictures as their own to attract guys and then they call these guys over and blackmail them for money.”
In July 2015, a gay maritime engineer was reportedly lured into a trapthrough an online dating service. He was attacked and extorted by two men while he was in a hotel room in Mumbai with a man he had met on a dating app. The attackers stole his possessions and emptied his bank account, and threatened to press criminal charges for having sex with a man if he went to the police.
This “catfishing” phenomenon is becoming more prevalent, according to Sonal Giani, advocacy manager at India’s oldest LGBTQ organisation, The Humsafar Trust. Online predators “often beat and sexually abuse the victims…but the victims are so scared that they generally don’t tell anyone,” Gaini added.
In addition, identities are not fully secure online. For example, in 2011, news channel TV9 ran a PlanetRomeo “exposé” of people in Hyderabad, publicly identifying profiles of gay men.
However, app-makers say they have put checks and balances such as verifying user identities and limiting app permissions online. Grindr, for instance, now has discreet icons that let users camouflage the app on their phones. But since homosexuality largely remains a taboo in India, it can still be hard to convince someone you meet online to take the next logical step offline. Some new apps are now finding a fix for just that.

Real relationships

Twenty-seven-year-old Ishaan Sethi launched an app called Delta this April. The platform brings together like-minded individuals who can establish any relationship—friends, romantic partners, mentor-mentee—with its “Connect” feature.
Sethi’s idea of building something less flippant than existing dating apps stemmed from conversations with Sachin Bhatia, CEO of dating app TrulyMadly. Sethi’s app not only verifies user identities but also connects people based on compatibility and assigns “trust scores” to users to up their credibility.
“Draconian laws and cultural barriers…have an adverse effect on an individual’s life, sense of dignity and ability to function across multiple arenas—meeting people, dating, finding support, access to jobs, even housing,” co-founder and CEO Sethi, who himself is gay, told Quartz.
In a country with over 2.5 million LGBTQ people, where tens of thousands of them have already created dating profiles, the potential market reach of these apps is substantial. Some organisations are even leverage them to disperse important messages about safe sex and HIV-prevention.
But Roop, a Grindr and Plannet Romeo user, isn’t totally convinced yet.
“…they may have been good for finding someone for a date but they have ended up becoming more of a hookup space,” Roop said. “It’s not a group of people there for each other as a community, but any random horny person trying to have physical intimacy for just a night or two.”

September 26, 2017

New UK Study Finds Dating Apps Contributing to Low Levels of Self Esteem

Gay Times asks if its time to sign out of dating apps? 

A new study has found that men who regularly use dating apps have reported lower levels of self-esteem than those who don’t use them that often or at all.

Researchers at the University of North Texas created a study based o the objectification theory that examined the main effects of Tinder use. 
The Tinder users included 31 men, while the non-users totalled 203 men for the anonymous online survey.

It found that men and women experienced similar levels of psychological distress, and that men demonstrated higher levels of shame about their bodies.

“For self-esteem, male Tinder users scored significantly lower than either male or female non-users,” the study reported.

“Our results suggest that Tinder represents a contemporary medium for appearance pressures and its use is associated with a variety of negative perceptions about body and self and with increases in individuals’ likelihood to internalise appearance ideals and make comparisons to others.”

The report also concluded that “Tinder users were more focused on their bodies as sexual objects.” 


Tinder users reported lower levels of satisfaction with their faces and bodies.
Male and female users experienced similar levels of psychological distress.
Tinder users experience higher levels of shame about their bodies.
Tinder users were more focused on their bodies as sexual objects.
Men, actively involved with Tinder, reported lower levels of self-esteem.


Based on objectification theory, we examined the main effects of Tinder use, and its interaction with gender, in relation to men’s and women’s body image concerns, internalization processes, and self-esteem. Tinder users (men = 31; women = 69) and non-users (men = 203; women = 844) anonymously completed measures via an online survey. Through a series of ANCOVAs, with BMI and age as covariates, Tinder users, regardless of gender, reported significantly lower levels of satisfaction with face and body and higher levels of internalization, appearance comparisons, and body shame and surveillance than non-users. For self-esteem, male Tinder users scored significantly lower than either male or female non-users. Our results suggest that Tinder represents a contemporary medium for appearance pressures and its use is associated with a variety of negative perceptions about body and self and with increases in individuals’ likelihood to internalize appearance ideals and make comparisons to others.

June 22, 2017

No Puppy Love Here (New Data on Dating Sites)

Could love bloom between users of eHarmony,, and Zoosk?

New data from YouGov reveals the compatibility of singles looking for romance on different online dating sites

There's nothing puppy love about the online dating industry. It brings in billions annually, and, according to one report, the number of 18- to 24-year-olds using various dating platforms has nearly tripled between 2013 and 2015.
Recent YouGov data shows that the majority of people visiting the dating sites Zoosk,, and eHarmony are male. Most fall between the ages of 18-49, too. But that's not to say all online dating sites attract the same types of people — because they don't.
Consider people who admit to flirting on social media (11% of US adults do). When looking at current and former customers of Zoosk,, and eHarmony, however, nearly a quarter of Zoosk customers confess to this behavior, compared to 15% of people looking for love on and 12% of those using eHarmony.
The differences don't stop. When asked if they like experimenting with recipes, being friendly with the neighbors, and spending their leisure time relaxing — in other words, typical relationship stuff that can either make or break a couple — a variety of responses came back.
Current and former Zoosk customers appear the most adventurous in the kitchen, followed by eHarmony users. At 71%, consumers on were not only the least likely online dating customer base to say they enjoy experimenting with new recipes, but were two points lower than the general public, too.
At the same time, customers were most likely to report saying hello to their neighbors and knowing who they were, while eHarmony customers showed the strongest desire to spend their leisure time relaxing.
What do current and former customers of all three online dating sites have in common?
They're all more likely than the general public to find controversial or taboo subjects funny, and need time alone to recharge after being in a group setting. They're also more likely to show interest in starting their own business.
Most importantly, perhaps, users of Zoosk,, and eHarmony all report higher rates of self-identifying as hopeless romantics.

September 1, 2015

Monogamy Electronic Dating is Having its Moment


There are lots of ways to cheat online, and maybe the idea of inadvertently hooking up with a smug married on Tinder repulses you. Perhaps you’d be happier on a site that promised you’d meet only fellow commitmentphiles, or at least one that lets you know if that dashing fellow or dimpled blonde is “in a relationship” on Facebook. If you’re already coupled up, maybe you’d be interested in an app that beams your movements and texts straight to your better half’s phone (and vice versa, of course). Turns out you have all these options, and more.

Monogamy may just be having a moment, particularly after the hack of the notorious “Life is short, have an affair” site Ashley Madison, which exposed the names, emails and sexual proclivities of some 30 million members. And why not? Regular dating services have already gained a reputation as cheater minefields. Researchers at GlobalWebIndex just reported that 45 percent of Tinder users worldwide are married or in a relationship, seemingly confirming the long-held suspicions of many users. (Tinder calls that study “totally inaccurate” and says “simple logic” makes its claims impossible, although it didn’t offer data of its own.) Many dating sites, in fact, offer tips about spotting cheaters and forums for discussing them, although most are limited in what they can do about stepper-outers — even if a two-timer gets booted, it’s ridiculously easy to reregister under a new handle and email address.

They cater to the tired, the poor at heart, the huddled masses yearning not to find unexpected sexts on their partner’s phone.
If the Ashley Madison hack “doesn’t fundamentally change the way the serious side of the dating industry conducts business,” says David Evans, a dating service consultant, “then all is for naught.” And there’s a lot of business being conducted — $2.4 billion in 2015, up from $1.6 billion in 2006, according to the market-research firm IBISWorld. It doesn’t take too much poking around to find a surprising number of sites and services catering to the tired, the poor at heart, the huddled masses yearning not to find unexpected sexts on their partner’s phone. Fidelity-first sites claim to offer a safe alternative, especially for folks who found that their partners were seeing other people without letting them know about it. Monogamy sites are a haven for such people; “they’ll reach out for it,” says Danine Manette, author of Ultimate Betrayal, a guide to detecting and surviving infidelity.

There’s certainly an irony here, as a medium infamous for harboring cheaters now also shows an evolving potential to foster more “old-fashioned” relationships. It’s further evidence, in case you needed it, that the digital nature of human relationships continues to shift on what feels like a daily basis. New dating tools could also have bigger real-world ramifications than you’d think. Marital infidelity, some experts say, inflicts serious emotional trauma on the betrayed spouse — in some cases, pain and grief so intense it’s surpassed only by the death of a child, often lingering as a sort of PTSD of the heart.

Fidelity Dating co-founder Gary Spivak is out to prevent that. He was cheated on years ago, after which he dropped serious weight, couldn’t sleep and developed muscle aches so intense they required medication. His seven-month-old service, which claims fewer than 5,000 members, aims to ward off the waywards by asking members to take a fidelity pledge. If you’re looking for an affair, “why would you come to a site for people looking for faithful partners?” Spivak asks.

Invite-only apps like the Dating Lounge, created by a professional matchmaker, also claim they can screen out cheaters (and police them if they slip through). More mainstream apps like Hinge, which connects would-be couples through mutual friends, now explicitly expose people dumb enough to join a dating service while professing to be committed on Facebook. But users can also do some background checking themselves. Women, for instance, can turn to Lulu, an app for dishing about men — their looks, sense of humor and, most important for our purposes, their sense of commitment. Less than a week after the Ashley Madison hack, Lulu saw a 16 percent spike in usage, according to Deborah Singer, Lulu’s vice president of marketing.

And if you’ve already found your lobster and just want to make sure they stay yours, there’s always the option of voluntarily enforcing your monogamy. Some couples already share email and Facebook passwords as a sign of trust, a means of verification or both; soon, there may also be an app for that. It’s still apparently in the concept phase, but a would-be app called Monogamy aims to actually bind your smartphones together, according to its website. (The startup behind it once tweeted that “monogamy is a relationship between” two devices.) That could include beaming your current location and where you’ve been to your partner, as well as informing them if you uninstall the app. No one at Monogamy replied to our request for comment.

Of course, a lot of monogamy marketing may amount to little more than lip service. Many such services use eminently gameable systems — it’s always possible to lie on Fidelity Dating’s pledge or delete your relationship status on Facebook, so branding for commitment doesn’t guarantee a cheater-free zone. Plus, there’s what you might call the empty-of-fish problem: It’s not at all clear how many people will specifically go looking for partners who won’t cheat on them. Apps like Tinder attract everyone, from those looking for their next spouse to those looking for the next hookup. “People often flock to those sites even if they don’t represent what they want, because the pool is so big,” says Logan Levkoff, a relationship expert and author.

But there’s one consolation: Sites like Fidelity Dating will be hacker-proof in a way, Manette suggests. After all, who would care if its members’ information leaked? That wouldn’t be a scandal — the monogamous crowd is “the silenced majority” already, she says.


December 22, 2014

Social Media Apps Killing Cruising Bars in NZ


SHUT DOWN: Paul Heard has closed his bar, Urge, calling it a "tough" move.

SHUT DOWN: Paul Heard has closed his bar, Urge, calling it a “tough” move.  

Social media apps are killing the gay bar scene, claiming as their latest victim New Zealand's longest-running gay venue.
Urge in Auckland is the ninth gay bar to shut down in New Zealand over the past two years because of dwindling patronage, echoing the closures of international gay hotspots in New York, San Francisco and Sydney.
Sociologist Michael Stevens blames the internet, as apps such as Grindr, and social change, render such venues redundant.
"In the past you had to go to a venue to meet other LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] people, today you don't."
Now people can just grab a phone, swipe left or right according to preference - at work, in bed or in a meeting.
Social change, particularly the legalising of gay marriage, has also played a role.
"Gay bars were a safe place to see a friendly face and not be judged," said Shane Way, event manager and performer for Hamilton's gay bar Shine, which shut down in March.
"These day it's become more accepted in society so gay people don't just go to gay bars."
But this doesn't translate to equality, said Stevens: "It's still not true to say that a gay couple can walk into any venue, hold hands, kiss and dance together in the same way straight couples can."
Urge co-owner Paul Heard announced the bar’s closure this month after 17 years, describing it as the "toughest day I've had". 
He bought the bar with former romantic partner and current business partner, Alan Granville, nearly 10 years ago.
"We actually met at Urge and bought it when the owner was in bad health so we could save it."
Stevens said many LGBT venues, like Urge, were set up in cheap fringe areas of the city 10 or 20 years ago but that real estate is now more desirable. In 10 years, rent and rates have skyrocketed from $66,000 a year to nearly $200,000.
And cheaper alcohol at supermarkets encourages punters to "pre-load" before hitting town.
"They are businesses and need to turn a profit but they have also operated as community centres and meeting points."
Heard has watched the impact of the internet on the gay community. "People's ability to communicate on a one-to-one basis has changed. I get guys in the bar sitting on their phone chatting to somebody on the other side - the app says they're zero metres away.
"Winter is our worst time for customers. Years ago it didn't seem to bother them but now they can stay at home and find someone who will come to their door, literally."
He's worried about the loss of a community, saying men still don't come through the front door because of the fear of stigma.
"There's a reason Urge is so hard to find - we don't have rainbow flags flying out the window. Anybody can feel safe here, especially younger guys who are coming to terms with the whole thing. People might go more underground again."
We're yet to see the full impact of hook-up apps, said social media researcher Richard Pamatatau.
"With internet dating, people looked at that as a thing for people who were desperate losers but now there's no shame in doing it.
"There will always be that moment where someone spies the beautiful girl across the bar and that chemistry happens, there's just more choices now - you can say if you like beards or sporty people."
So will Tinder (the "straight" hook-up app) do to straight bars what Grindr has done in the gay community? "The challenge is for hospitality to find ways to challenge this new technology, I don't know how, though."
 - Stuff

December 3, 2014

Chinese New gay dating app up to 15 Million


By day, Ma Baoli was a high-ranking officer in a seaside city police force. By night, he ran a website for gay people to share experiences and on which he spoke under a pseudonym about the pressure he faced as a homosexual.
After several years, the police force found out and told him he could not run a private website that was earning money from advertisements while serving as a police officer.
Ma chose his website, a move that later proved fruitful. His has spawned a Chinese-language dating app for men called Blued that has garnered 15 million users, 3 million of them outside China, over two years.
And last month, his company, Blue City, received $30 million in funding from Silicon Valley venture capital company DCM Ventures. Ma hopes to use the money to expand abroad and possibly prepare for an IPO. He is also considering launching a dating app for lesbians.
In a country where the government considers any activism dangerous and where homosexuality has traditionally been taboo, Ma has managed to build his business partly by reaching out to government agencies and showing them he can provide a public service in spreading safe-sex messages.
In 2012, he was invited to meet with now-Premier Li Keqiang because of his AIDS prevention work.
Wu Zunyou, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases center, praised the app for its usefulness in conveying information to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, community.
"It's very hard to receive so many registered users in such a short time," Wu told The Associated Press last week at an AIDS awareness event held by Blue City and also attended by local government officials. "None of our public awareness websites can receive such attention. This is a very important channel to be able to spread information about AIDS prevention among the LGBT community."
The app allows users to look for people by location or the last time they logged on. It also enables group settings so people can organize activities such as hiking or assembling a basketball team, as well as providing information from health authorities on locations for HIV testing and treatment.
Andrea Pastorelli, a policy specialist at the United Nations Development Programme, said the Chinese CDC had recognized the app's usefulness in reaching people they were unable to.
"They are having a real issue reaching out to the most marginalized people and in China that's where the epidemic is," he said.
"The fact that they have been able to attract this much money shows that there is interest in the so-called pink market," Pastorelli added. "Private companies are realizing that gay people exist and gay people represent a huge market."
An investment manager at the Beijing office of DCM Ventures who asked not to be named because she was not authorized to speak to the media confirmed that the company had invested $30 million in Blue City, saying its future outlook was promising.
"Five percent of the total population are LGBT people," she said. "Social attitudes toward gay people will become more and more tolerant in the future."
For Ma, 37, who goes by the online pseudonym Geng Le, the investment signals a shift in attitudes already among Chinese toward homosexuals.
Five years ago, his website would be regularly shut down. Today, that doesn't happen anymore, and it carries discussions on whether to legalize same-sex marriage, for example.
"I now feel more and more comfortable saying, 'Yes, I'm gay and yes, what I do is run a gay-themed website,'" he said.
Still, the app does provide privacy for people who are worried about others finding out about their sexual orientation by allowing them to use their smartphone to meet someone, he said.
A law against "hooliganism" that had been used to target gays was eliminated in 1997 and homosexuality was declassified as a mental disorder in 2001, but some clinics still promise to "cure" people by offering conversion therapy that includes electric shocks. China does not recognize same-sex partnerships and no laws outlaw discrimination against homosexuals.
However, more organizations are being created in China that are specifically devoted to LGBT advocacy issues, and gay bars that once could only be found in bigger cities like Beijing and Shanghai are increasingly opening up in smaller cities.
Ma quit his job as deputy director of a division of the Qinhuangdao police force in March 2012. He still misses being a police officer, his dream job since childhood. He says some former colleagues cannot accept what he is doing because they think homosexuality is "abnormal." Ma says he hopes to change their thinking.
Blue City employs about 40 software engineers, designers, salespeople and advocates.
"I would like to use the power of the economy to promote the LGBT community," he said. "In many ways, the economy can trigger changes in policies. So if, for example, I do this thing very well, if my users go from 15 million to many more in the future, if we can go public, I can tell the government: See, we can go public being a ‘gay company' and we haven't caused you any trouble."

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