A Straight Guy On Grindr, Part II
It wasn’t until I tried browsing Grindr without a proper profile picture on my account that I realized how silly the attempt at using a social network without something identifying yourself was. If you were to use Facebook, you would never attempt to creepily pick up the bartender who got you drunk the night before without a profile picture. On Twitter, you would never tweet a nerdy one liner on the cute guy in your architecture class while displaying the default bird silhouette. And in the extremely unpredictable word of craigslist, the phrase “your pic for mine” exists for a reason. If you aren’t comfortable enough sending a picture of yourself to a complete stranger whom you may potentially try to penetrate sooner rather than later, then you might as well forget about the entire thing to begin with.
The same unwritten rule goes for Grindr. Reveal yourself or forever hold your cyber peace.
My first thought regarding my Grindr profile picture was to avoid using an actual picture of myself. After all, I would hate to be spotted by one of my gay acquaintances who wasn’t aware of the column I write while browsing a social networking application whose main premise is to troll for dick of all shapes and sizes. Eventually, I decided to make a single body part my profile picture. While I obviously had many choices, I wanted to go with something that was intriguing yet extremely PG. I wanted it to be something that caught the eye of my intended audience and made them instantly want to engage in conversation. I wanted a profile picture that would tap my Grindr peers on the shoulder and let them know that I was a gentlemen in the streets and a freak between the sheets.
It took less than 15 minutes for the folks at Grindr to pick me out like an adam’s apple at a drag brunch. My pending profile picture was immediately rejected for “voiolating the Terms and Service.” Apparently, the male weenus looks way too vulgar to be considered “appropriate.” I’m sure the rhyming doesn’t help either. But let me make something clear. If wanting to be physically represented by my own weenus on an Internet social network is wrong then I have absolutely no desire to ever be right.
With my morale down and a job still to accomplish, I made the executive decision to go against my original instinct and take an actual photo of myself to use as a profile picture. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? I would be recognized by someone who met me at a party and now thinks the stripper that I paid to attend with me was nothing but a facade? Big deal. If it’s good enough for Richard Gere it’s certainly good enough for me.
I eventually decided that I wanted the picture that would be the irreplaceable first impression for my future encounters to be extremely snazzy. I wanted to look both intriguing and manly; a picture that successfully walked the fine line between Ryan Gosling and Jack Bauer. A moment that would make Kodak proud. What I got instead was a photograph that looked like it had been stolen from the unofficial Justin Bieber myspace profile:
Once my profile picture had been approved, I bolted into the cyber world like a child from the 90′s sporting a brand new pair of Air Jordans. The goal was simple: find somebody interesting who looked as if they would appreciate a conversation, throw out a compliment and hope they didn’t take it as a sexual advance. The first man I came across that met this description was Ron. Quickly glancing over his profile, I decided to initiate the conversation with the topic that was on everybody’s mind. The topic that made Ron a real life Internet jackpot: his taint tickler.
Despite my excellent opening conversational piece, Ron never responded. That made me 0/1.
I refused to let Bob’s inability to recognize a good ice breaker deter me from my goal of successfully interacting with my fellow Grindrs. I scanned over men near me attempting to pick out one that was both fully clothed and appeared to know the difference between Adell and the computer sitting in their office cubicle. While I was hunting, however, my profile picture updated to my profile and apparently went “live” to those around me. I was exposed in all of my self aggrandizing glory. The flood of chats that rattled my iPhone for the next minutes can mostly be summed up with this gem from a user so excited to interact with the rest of the class, he forgot to put his name at the top of his test:
It wasn’t the actual nature of the questions that shocked me; I expected that going into this experiment. What really threw me for a loop was the bold attitudes of these guys. Not only were they interacting with a complete stranger in an attempt to get it on, they were doing so with absolutely zero tact or humility.
There was no opening line or smooth one liner. There was no “Hi, how are you?” or “I love your picture, wanna chat?” These guys weren’t even wasting their time trying to buy me a drink before taking me home. This was the internet equivalent of “nice shoes, wanna f***” without showing the courtesy to check and see if I was even wearing any.
Come on, guys. Even AOL chat room participants were asked to type 69 first if they wanted to cyber.
I took some time to regroup and reorganize my plan of attack. I decided that instead of trying to appeal to men on Grindr with phrases I figured they would want to hear, perhaps I should just be brutally honest.
If they asked what I was wearing, I would tell them all about my long johns from JC Penney and my homemade sleeveless shirt. If they wanted to know who my favorite Backstreet Boy used to be, I would happily reply with ‘AJ’. And dammit, if they asked “what I was into tonight,” I would be forced to tell them about how I was forcing Morrissey to sing me to sleep.
And just when I thought I had finally found a gay friend with whom I could discuss the likes of “Meat is Murder,” the bait was quickly dropped into the water. This guy had absolutely no interest in my newest addition to my vinyl collection. Once my partner realized I was not interested in traveling to take things a step further, he immediately lost interest and made it clear with a simple “goodnight” that he was moving on to the next guy in line.
I have interacted with and befriended enough gays to know that most of them do not act like the ones I interacted with on Grindr.
They aren’t the gay equivalent of those disrespectful pigs drinking at Three Monkeys that the rest of us try so hard to avoid on Friday nights. No, most have courtesy and a sense of respect towards their fellow gay man. I quickly realized that if we were in the world of Occupy Wall Street, I was for the most part dealing with the 1%.
And while I refused to let the men I continued to interact with on Grindr taint my feelings towards the gay community as a whole, I also had to realize that just like with any other corner of the Internet, the active users of Grindr may not always be an accurate representation of the niche it was so brilliantly designed for.
After this seemingly endless barrage of uninvited guests trying to sneak into my butt hole, I began to feel defeated. I eventually came to the conclusion that if I was ever going to accomplish my goal of meeting someone on Grindr that didn’t seem like they wanted to rip me apart, I would need to find him by using the process of elimination. One by one, I visited each profile of active members currently within range.
Then, I spotted Cupid Boy.
As you can see, Cupid Boy looks like he could have easily been an extra in the straight to DVD Fight Club sequel. But it wasn’t his 6’1″, 160 lb build that caused me to take notice. It wasn’t even the fact that unlike most profiles I spotted on Grindr, CB was apparently “looking for” everything from a friendly chat to a serious relationship. No, it was the last few words of his fact sheet that told me all I needed to know. Out of all the things he loves in this world and could have included on his Grindr profile, Cupid Boy decided to use the profile character limit to let the rest of us know that he enjoyed chain restaurants.
And just when I had begun to lose hope, a shirtless angel whisked down from the heavens and presented me with light at the end of a very dark tunnel. With a simple and brief conversation that did not involve my sexual position preference or the length of my lightning rod, Cupid Boy had unintentionally reassured me that not all men who grind necessarily want to take you home after the dance.
Some of them simply would be interested in accompanying you to a chain restaurant.
And as a straight male who loves the shit out of some cheddar bay biscuits, that is perfectly fine with me.
Chad Brown is a straight male living in Richmond. He enjoys bourbon on the rocks and appreciates a firm ass. Male or female.
He was beaten nonstop for an entire hour and suffered a bruised diaphragm as a result.March 4, 2016
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