“All-male, geo-social networking apps” is essentially a fancy way of saying Grindr, along with the whole slew of apps exactly like it. It’s what your GBFF (Gay Best Friend Forever, FYI) is always tapping away at while you’re eating fro-yo or watching Sex & the City together. It’s also how he’s constantly “dating” someone new or always seems to be “having someone over.” Admittedly, I just rattled off more gay [dating] stereotypes than a season one episode of Will & Grace but there is some foundation to it all.
Grindr now has over 7 million users in 192 countries, and that’s just one app. What sets these apps apart from other dating methods like personals ads or online is that you can see the distance from that person you are via GPS and message like texting. Consequently, mobile technology has totally changed the way gay men find each other, communicate, and interact romantically. On the plus side, this is great for lads who live in small towns or countries where being gay is less accepted (or shunned entirely), for those who are shy or still partially closeted, or those don’t have enough time to meet people in more traditional ways like at the club or via a girlfriend with, “Oh MY god, I just met this other adorable gay guy and I think you guys would be SO perfect for each other.” On the negative, most of these apps encourage a very singular perception of what it is to be good-looking (i.e. white, fit, younger than 30, hairless), they can break people down into pretty rudimentary categories and binaries (top/ bottom, masc/ fem, twink/ bear/ jock), and generally just further the stereotype that we’re all big promiscuous ho-bags. It doesn’t help that when you open most of them, it’s just a grid of pictures that are 60% bare, rippling chests (not complaining, mind you).
However, not everyone uses gay dating apps exclusively for playtime after coming home drunk from the bar. Many people are also defying the stereotypes and using these apps in search of something a little more long-term. To help make sense of all the gay dating apps out there, here’s a list of some of the biggest ones and who uses them.
Who’s It For: Every gay person who has ever existed, currently exists, and will ever exist.
The Details: In terms of public recognition and popularity, Grindr is the Coca Cola of mobile butt sex. It’s in every country in the world, it’s the face of gay dating apps, and because practically everybody is on it, you can find everything from mid-morning quickies to the father of your future [adoptive] children. Everything else, really, is just Pepsi.
Jack’d + Boys Ahoy
Who’s It For: People who are tired of or got banned from Grindr.
The Details: Both of these apps have slightly more features that Grindr but really, at the end of the day, they’re both still Pepsi.
Who’s It For: Bears, cubs, and all the beautiful creatures of the gay woodlands.
The Details: Just because it’s winter does not mean all the bears have gone into hibernation. FYI, bears are typically defined as larger, husky or muscular gay men on the hairier side. Cubs, in turn, are young bears (read: paging David Attenborough). With over 2 million members, the app not only allows bears to find their fellows in their region but also anywhere in the world, along with an up-to-date guide to bear bars in every major city.
Who’s It For: Masc 4 Masc
The Details: This is for “men who like men” or “masculine for masculine” (read: internalized homophobia?). Either way, these are boy’s boys who like boys, whether they be bears, jocks, or “just plain dudes”.
Who’s It For: Hopeless romantics.
The Details: Every Romeo must find his Julio, and every Adam his Steve. Or so we dream, anyways. Mench’d was created specifically for gay men looking for long term relationships and has strict limitations on posting nudie pics. Complimentary to that, it also helps your filter out guys who are more likely to be a good match to you and sends them personalized introductions on your behalf. Adorable, right?
Who’s It For: To paraphrase Carly Simon, “You’re so vain, you probably think they made this app for you…”
The Details: VGL stands for Very Good Looking, which should probably indicate the kind of people who sign up for this one. Their key selling points are a Hotness Rank algorithm (yes, that exists) to help you find your most compatible heat level, along with a Hottest Profiles page so you can shop around. Even people shallower than a kiddie pool deserve love… right?