Grindr For Equality
Most men know about Grindr. Many use it as a “mobile hookup,” but for those who don’t know, it is a cellphone application that uses geographic location to show profiles of local gay men. It allows folks to strike up conversations, exchange pictures, locations, or social media links.
The company itself is very coy about what its app is used for to stay in line with Apple’s terms of service. I have found some political purposes for it over the past few months.
In September, I got a new smartphone and friends recommended I try this app for fun. I meet some cool people and had some fun dates. I also reconnected with folks that I had met at bars. Yet, it served an even more important purpose for my activist work.
I was able to connect with a lot of closeted folks at the University of Richmond. As our campus is less than a mile wide, I could easily tell who was in the closest and, therefore, at UofR. I incorporated these folks into the weekly Icebreaker meetings; Icebreakers is the campus support group for closeted, questioning, or non-activist students. Grindr proved to be a valuable recruitment tool.
I hoped to have the same luck in my hometown; I was not as successful. It showed folks 20+ mile aways, which isn’t surprising as my home county is very rural and has 4 cell towers. I did get a ping from an old friend in highschool. We both had suspected the other to be gay but it wasnt until now — 4 years later — that we confirmed our inclinations.
I imagine this product becoming very helpful to rural folks so we develop community.
Grindr recognizes its political influence with this statement:
Grindr is looking to continue our involvement in the political process by tapping in to our user base in order to receive regular updates on GLBT issues on the local, national and international scale. We have launched “Grindr For Equality” and have already received over 3,000 user responses from across the globe who will assist us in figuring out ways to use our vast 2.6 million user network and geo-targeting technology to mobilize our community.
We continue to look for people around the world to send us regular updates on the latest political issues facing gay rights in your area and would appreciate any time you could spare, be it a weekly update or a one-off e-mail tipping us off to what is happening. Getting in touch with us is simple and we would love to hear from you. To keep us informed on your local issues, follow this link to sign up.
Grindr can become a new driving force for social networking, community development, political action and rallying. Already, it is being used to promote LGBT career fairs like Out for Work and various Pride Festivals. Bathhouses use to be a driving force for queer-male culture. They provided physical connections for males to congregate for various ‘activities.’ More importantly, the baths provided funding to Prides and political campaigns. Bathhouses were political mechanism as they created a network and provided resources to a political minded crowd.
Grindr may just be that new driving force.
Jon Henry comes from the small town of Washington, Virginia. Xe finished xes degree at the University of Richmond and was named GayRVA.com's Out.Spoken. Richmonder of the Year for 2011. When not in class, xe is either in the studio or rabble rousing with other queer activists. Follow xem on Twitter.
He was beaten nonstop for an entire hour and suffered a bruised diaphragm as a result.March 4, 2016
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