Although gay dating sites provide a useful platform in allowing men to meet each other, Christopher Halton writes for Pink News of how they can also put some gay men at risk.
On Monday, I was one of 30 or so men to take part in the filming of an advert for Survivors UK, a lottery funded charity set up to support men who have been raped or sexually abused.
As a user of gay dating sites, this made me think about the danger inherent in meeting men who I know nothing about, other than what they choose to tell me, which may or may not be true.
My love affair with Grindr has always been more of a regrettable fling which invariably ends with me deleting the app from my phone within a couple of days. If previously, my feelings towards the platform were ambivalent, they have now been crystallised: I actively dislike it.
Grindr has acquired a somewhat iconic status in the gay community and understandably so.
Fortunately, I have never been a victim myself, and attended the shoot merely as an extra.
Beforehand, I researched the charity and read the testimony of a young man who had met someone he had been chatting to on an internet dating site.
That’s not to say that anonymous sex is inherently wrong, it’s merely an observation I have made, and one which has greater implications for our gay youth than any other demographic.
Sex education in schools is, at best, perfunctory, and for gay kids it’s largely non-existent.I always figured that there would be other guys like me on Grindr. It is unprintable in its original guise, but the subtext was that this ‘gentleman’ was going to come and find me and then forcibly penetrate me whether I liked it or not.I duly reported him and made the decision that I just didn’t need Grindr in my life. What this all too common sort of unwanted communication illustrates is that whilst gay dating sites provide a useful platform for meeting men you may never otherwise have had access to, they also further diminish the importance of intimacy in favour of instant sexual gratification.The problem is that by doing so, these young men are making themselves incredibly vulnerable to exploitation, sexual abuse and even rape.They are risking both their physical and mental health, and they are willing to do it because they crave the love, acceptance and security they haven’t found at home, in their communities or within the educational system.It was the first geosocial networking based site and as such, it made the gay-dating game mobile in a way which no other site had achieved before.