Truth be told, I have never, ever used a gay dating app. Having had three successive long term relationships since 1997, I just haven’t had the chance. But also, I have no confidence in my looks. I worry that if I put up a picture of myself being sexy, it will show up as a hilarious meme on Facebook.
Those who do indulge have often told me that gay men can be ruthlessly cunty towards each other. There’s that 'no fats, no femmes’ thing, and even overt racism, although I have always believed that the one place no one should ever be accused of racism is in the bedroom. As gay men, we fought for the right to fuck whoever we please, letting our erections guide us rather than our hearts.
Still, online bitchiness is endemic and loathsome. Now, Jack’d, a leading gay social app, is launching an eight-week initiative. Topics include the dangers of labels among gay men, measuring self esteem, and the importance of activism.
The first week’s topic focuses on kindness. “We’re asking Jack’d members to share the encounters they’ve had with people on apps, or explain why they were driven to act a certain way to someone else,” says Russell Horsey, a marketing and social media specialist at Jack’d. “We’d also like them to discuss the value that they believe our community places on kindness.”
Maybe bitchy behaviour is unavoidable. As gay men, we tend to objectify each other sexually. We’re all just each other’s pieces of meat. And bitchiness comes from usually being either drunk or hungover. We are, after all, a bar culture. All the same, a little kindness goes a long way, especially when it comes to the abrupt, anonymous world of online communication. As for me, I feel lucky to have avoided it all.