The purpose of this paper is to describe how the LGBT community have embraced social networking and how for all the benefits that the community have gained, they still continue to challenge heterosexual norms. The introduction of Web 2.0 and the spread of social networking has enabled the LGBT community to flourish in a space that they have taken full advantage of. Dating apps such as Grindr have enabled the already strong community bonds within the LGBT community to be strengthened, with users cross linking the dating apps to other communication methods such as Facebook. The LGBT community do not have to conform to the standards set by heterosexual society and as always continue to run their own path.
Historically “Prior to the 1970s, homosexuality was classified as a mental illness in the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) which is widely utilised for mental health classification” (Dentato,2017). The prohibition of homosexuality in the U.S military since the “publication of the Articles of War of 1916” (Reinke & Smith, 2011) gives an indication of the type of oppression and challenges that have been historically faced by the LGBT community. It has taken over 100 years since this publication for the “2010 Congressional vote to repeal one of the military’s most controversial policies, the exclusion of open gay and lesbian persons from military service” (Reinke & Smith, 2011), this marks one of the biggest milestones in the quest for unity and equality. Since this vote the legalisation of marriage in most developed societies has also advanced the normalisation efforts, but there still exists a difference in how the LGBT community feels and acts. Since the introduction of Web 2.0 and the social interaction technologies and potential that this has opened up, the LGBT community has been on the forefront of technology use. Social platforms such as Grindr have allowed for the creation of a whole new community and provide a place where like-minded individuals can meet, chat and interact. Dating applications allow users to stay safe in their own homes and interact with like-minded individuals without having to o to a bar and guessing who may or may not be interested in them. Even though the LGBT community now have access to all the benefits of marriage equality, their use of social media platforms such as Grindr allow queer communities to form bonds that challenge heteronormative understandings/ideas of intimacy, dating and community.
The advent of dating apps such as Grindr have allowed the LGBT community to strengthen their already strong sense of community
The advent of dating apps such as Grindr have allowed the LGBT community to strengthen their already strong sense of community. This sense of community is displayed through the fact that connections made through Grindr spill onto other platforms such as Facebook messenger, this helps to signify that meaningful connections can be and are made through Grindr (Pingel et al, 2013). The fact of the matter is that most Gay men at some time in their life, normally in their youth go though a period of either being bullied or made to feel that what they are feeling is not normal. According to Zervoulis et al a study based in the UK found that one in five gay men surveyed experienced a hate incient in the last year, going on to state that members of these stigamtised groups may find online platforms a useful place for countering minority stress (Zervoulis et al ,2016). These shared experiences are part of what makes the community stronger than the heterosexual alternative, applications such as Grindr give an outlet where men of similar tendencies can be part of a wider community. The writer Cassidy states that “it has been well documented in academic arenas since the very beginnings of the public internet, that online spaces designed for the GLBT community have been highly significant in the lives of young gay men (Cassidy, 2018), in recent years there has been some findings that online spaces are not a safe place for interaction due the predatory nature of certain people. The fact is that in the study conducted by Cassidy these online spaces were found to be seen as safe places that allowed individuals to explore their identities away from the dangers that “real life” presented (Cassidy, 2018).
Dating apps such as Grindr enable the expression of intimacy and interactions similar to those experienced prior to social media
Dating apps such as Grindr enable the expression of intimacy and interactions similar to those experienced prior to social media. Intimate relations between the LGBT community have always been present there is no denying that, put simply dating apps such as Grindr have allowed for a more direct and easier way for like minded individuals to meet. Jaspal et al implies that “discovering virtual spaces that not only accepted but celebrated their sexual desires and identities” this kind of statement helps to solidify the fact that online platforms help to reinforce the already present intimate interactions. The availability and ease of finding an intimate partner have never been easier the quote “Mobile dating apps are particularly important to modern courtship and sexual activity” (Hobbs et al,2017), gives an indication that in modern society where time is precious dating apps allow users to have a similar experiences to meeting someone in a bar but negate the stress and frustration of not finding a ‘match’. Social media platforms and dating apps can have a healing affect Hobbs et al states “she believes ‘matches’ on dating apps are a form of social validation regarding desirability, which could have a positive impact on one’s self esteem. She believes that this affect allowed her to engage in a satisfying sex life” (Hobbs et al,2017). Social media platforms allow people to discover “virtual spaces that not only accepted but celebrated their sexual desires and identities” (Pingel et al, 2013). Grindr in particular is popular the flowing situation is where dating apps can have influence “it was a very straight feeling place. However through Grindr he was able to locate and chat with another co-situated gay man who was down the street at another straight bar” (Blackwell et al, 2015).
The types of interactions that dating apps such as Grindr encourage go against what would be the heterosexual ideal
The types of interactions that dating apps such as Grindr encourage go against what would be the heterosexual ideal. Many in society view the LGBT community with distain and claim that dating apps such as Grindr are “known for one thing sex” (Jaspal et al, 2017), while there’s no disputing the ease of sex seeking connected with online dating, it can be viewed with positivity. Consider the following sexual health can be defined as “a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well being in relation to sexuality” (Jaspal et al, 2017). Some may see this as objectifying people another more rational argument can be made in that members of the LGBT community explore all facets of there sexuality, identity and all the differing personalities that exist within. The heterosexual ideal while rapidly changing is still based on the perfect family and house with a white picket fence. Social media platforms and apps such as Tinder are changing the dynamic and “branching off what we already recognized as hook-up culture. Its encouraging to people to explore relationships with the people around them and while it has its drawbacks its empowering” (University Wire, 2014). The fact is that apps such as Grindr do support a wide range of interactions that are not necessarily supported by society as a whole, but they help to reinforce the fact that interactions are different and not what would be described as the heterosexual norm. People “do successfully use Grindr to meet friends or dates, just as Chris and Drew were successful in finding sex” (Blackwell et al, 2015).
The way that the LGBT community uses social platforms in particular Grindr challenge the understandings of traditional societal norms
The way that the LGBT community uses social platforms in particular Grindr challenge the understandings of traditional societal norms. The passing of marriage equality laws in many parts of the world maybe seen as a win for the LGBT community, but it also brings closer the foreboding pressure of “heterosexism i.e., if you’re not straight, there is something wrong with you” (De La Cruz, 2017), this is a trend seen all over the globe and one that sets a very dangerous precedent. This normalising of relations is changing the dynamic of what it means to be homosexual, the quote “men tend to be more emotionally remote with difficulty expressing themselves and therefore more likely to be lonely compared to women” (Papp,Mark, 2019) shows that from the outset men find it hard to connect emotionally on any level. Apps such as “Grindr are known for one thing sex seeking” (Jaspal et al, 2017), with a greater “emphasis they felt online communities placed on casual sex (Yeo & Fung, 2018) this while in part true does not fully explain the positives. A study conducted by Vrangalova & Ong, 2014 concluded that “Sociosexuality was associated with higher self-esteem, higher life satisfaction, and lower anxiety” (Vrangalova & Ong, 2014), meaning that for participants they reported greater mental satisfaction after having casual sex than before. This finding reinforces that the types of relationships and how the LGBT community view intimacy is quite different to the heterosexual traditional way of thinking. Jaspal et al states that “the construction of a positive identity maybe regarded as a component of sexual health” (Jaspal et al, 2017), most individuals will have quite differing views on sex and relationships its part of being human and having the right to choose.
Even though the LGBT community now have access to all the benefits of marriage equality, their use of social media platforms such as Grindr allow queer communities to form bonds that challenge heteronormative understandings/ideas of intimacy, dating and community. The advent of dating apps such as Grindr have allowed the LGBT community to strengthen their already strong sense of community, modern Social platforms and the introduction of Web 2.0 technologies have given a marginalised and historically oppressed community a place to thrive. Dating apps have helped to strengthen the already strong expressions of intimacy and personal interaction, by creating a place where like-minded individuals can meet without the threat of discrimination. Even today many in society view the LGBT community with distain, social media platforms and dating apps such as Grindr allow for the exploration of relationships and what they mean to the individual person not what society believes they should be. The heterosexual norm is just that heterosexual not something that the LGBT community have to conform to, people in the LGBT community see social media platforms as a safe place where they can interact freely and express what they want. An individual’s sexual health is extremely important to their understandings of intimacy and their development with the community, this is where social media platforms can help to encourage and foster development.
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De La Cruz, R. A. (2017). Gay men in the rural borderlands: Exploring the experiences of using gay dating applications [Ph.D., New Mexico State University]. http://search.proquest.com/docview/2001132049/abstract/3038BFFD949F442EPQ/1
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Cassidy, E. (2018). Gay Men, Identity and Social Media: A Culture of Participatory Reluctance. Routledge. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/rmit/detail.action?docID=5306771
Siebler, K. (2016). The Digital Swish of Gay Identity. In K. Siebler (Ed.), Learning Queer Identity in the Digital Age (pp. 97–122). Palgrave Macmillan UK. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-59950-6_5
Zervoulis, K., Smith, D. S., Reed, R., & Dinos, S. (2019). Use of ‘gay dating apps’ and its relationship with individual well-being and sense of community in men who have sex with men. Psychology and Sexuality, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1080/19419899.2019.1684354
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Blackwell, C., Birnholtz, J., & Abbott, C. (2015). Seeing and being seen: Co-situation and impression formation using Grindr, a location-aware gay dating app. New Media & Society, 17(7), 1117–1136. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444814521595
Papp, M. (2019). The Lived Experience of Loneliness among Single Men Who Use Dating Apps: A Qualitative Analysis of Interviews with Gay and Straight Identified Men [Psy.D., Adler University]. http://search.proquest.com/docview/2307477228/abstract/C879A54060974AA2PQ/1
Zervoulis, K., Smith, D. S., Reed, R., & Dinos, S. (2020). Use of ‘gay dating apps’ and its relationship with individual well-being and sense of community in men who have sex with men. Psychology & Sexuality, 11(1–2), 88–102. https://doi.org/10.1080/19419899.2019.1684354
Vrangalova, Z., & Ong, A. D. (2014). Who Benefits From Casual Sex? The Moderating Role of Sociosexuality. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5(8), 883–891. https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550614537308
Dentato, M. P. (2017). Social Work Practice with the LGBTQ Community: The Intersection of History, Health, Mental Health, and Policy Factors. Oxford University Press, Incorporated. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/rmit/detail.action?docID=5061687
Reinke, S. J., & Smith, T. G. (2011). Out and Serving Proudly: Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Politics & Policy, 39(6), 925–948. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1747-1346.2011.00331.x
Chan, L. S. (2017). The Role of Gay Identity Confusion and Outness in Sex-Seeking on Mobile Dating Apps Among Men Who Have Sex With Men: A Conditional Process Analysis. Journal of Homosexuality, 64(5), 622–637. https://doi.org/10.1080/00918369.2016.1196990
Jaspal, R. (2017). Gay Men’s Construction and Management of Identity on Grindr. Sexuality & Culture; New York, 21(1), 187–204. http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.lib.rmit.edu.au/10.1007/s12119-016-9389-3
Pingel, E. S., Bauermeister, J. A., Johns, M. M., Eisenberg, A., & Leslie-Santana, M. (2013). “A Safe Way to Explore”: Reframing Risk on the Internet Amidst Young Gay Men’s Search for Identity. Journal of Adolescent Research, 28(4), 453–478. https://doi.org/10.1177/0743558412470985
11 replies on “Grindr and Gay Identity”
Thank you for this post. It really highlighted how homosexual ideas and norms are often condemned because they do not align with heterosexual ones. Web 2.0. technologies have certainly been important to many marginalized communities to express themselves in a safe environment.
As you mention, dating apps like Grindr give the LGBT community a place for them to thrive, giving them the ability to express themselves and explore personal relationships and interactions without facing constant discrimination. This is similar to the online autism communities I write about in my paper. They use Web 2.0. technologies (websites in my paper) like Wrong Planet and Aspie Central as a way to connect with other like-minded individuals, expressing their ideas, opinions, experiences, frustrations, and special interests with each other without interference from neurotypicals (NTs). By using the websites and their discussion forums they have formed communities out of shared identity and experiences. These communities also end up as spaces for education to NTs and ways to show NTs representations of autism that come directly from those with autism.
In my paper, I focus on online autism communities challenging professional and medical representations about them. Since you mentioned that homosexual norms are different from heterosexual ones, would you say the Grindr dating app and the LGBT community challenges ideas about intimacy? Furthermore, do you think that the Grindr app acts as a positive representation of homosexual and LGBT identity?
Thank you once again for your post.
Thanks for your comment, yes like you mention in your paper Web2.0 technologies are helping to connect people together. Its a very interesting point that you make in regards to Grindr and the issue of intimacy, its my belief that the LGBT community view intimacy on a different level than heterosexual’s. The LGBT community are more open and fluid with the exact definition, but overall Grindr helps to connect like minded indivduals and for this its is a postive representaion as everyone has different experiences.
Very attention grabbing title, so good work with that!
Your abstract was succinct and outlined your paper well.
I definitely agree with your point that digital media and the Internet has been an incredibly positive part of LGBTQ+ identity and community formation. I actually mentioned this in my own paper about how the Internet is a “safe place”. I enjoyed your discussion of how dating apps save time, and how it makes it easier to find matches within the LGBTQ+ community rather than having to guess someone’s sexual orientation.
I found a few parts of your paper confusing, such as “People “do successfully use Grindr to meet friends or dates, just as Chris and Drew were successful in finding sex” (Blackwell et al, 2015)”. Would you be able to explain Chris and Drew for me? Are they part of a study and what’s their story?
Your paper was clearly very well researched. Good work with making points and then backing them up with solid evidence! I definitely can corroborate that people use dating apps to make friends instead of finding love or sex.
Do you think dating apps have affected the mindset of commitment – that people have become less likely to commit since they feel like there might always be something better out there?
And also, do you think Grindr helps make sure that there are places just for LGBTQ+ individuals instead of having heterosexual individuals come in to observe (e.g. straight girls at a gay bar for their Bachelorette party)?
Your paper presents a strong argument for how the LGBT have embraced Web 2.0 to further strengthen the ties in what was already a strong community. Your description of apps such as Grindr providing a space where like-minded people can express and discuss their shared experiences is really important. The fact that relationships which start on Grindr often spill over to Facebook really reinforces the strength of the connections that are made.
In the second paragraph you mention that some research has found that online spaces are not safe due to predatory activity, but the study by Cassidy suggests that these spaces are considered as safe. I’ve been having a chat with Anne-Marie about cyberbullying in relation to identity formation in young people. There is no doubt that cyberbullying is a real and serious problem, however it could be argued that that the conversation around cyberbullying often overshadows the benefits of young people’s online activity. Do you think the same could be applied to the situation you’re describing, i.e. that there are some negative (or predatory) elements, but the good holds significant value and should be discussed. While it’s important to understand both sides of the argument, do you think that there is a tendency for people to focus on the negative as it is more sensationalist and it attracts more attention?
Overall, I think you’ve presented a strong argument that demonstrates the way in which members of the LGBT community have embraced Grindr to explore their own identity and sexuality in their own way.
Thanks for your comment, your comment on the fact that while
cyberbullying is a very serious problem but the benefits of
online interactions may outweigh the negatives is very true.
Unfortunately the world that we live in is full of unsavoury individuals
but I’m a firm believer that the benefits of applications such as Grindr, Tindr Facebook
etc far outweigh the negatives. These platforms give a voice to a section of
society and people that would have once struggled with finding their identity and a
friendship group. Now they can explore their identities and sexuality in a
safe environment as long as common sense and some street smarts are used,
like meeting in public places, telling family and friends where you are going
measures such as these can help to make everyone safe.
But yes mainstream media and society as a whole love negativity and bad news,
and this is never a good thing learning to make your own informed decision
is what counts.
I really enjoyed your comments
Really interesting topic, I enjoyed reading your paper very much. You provided great insights into the LGBTQ+ community and highlighted the many challenges people from the community have faced in modern history to now which I think is very important to mention.
Throughout your paper you mention that Grindr challenges societal heterosexual norms when it comes to dating and intimacy, with casual sex and hookups being normalised and easy for members on Grindr. But you also stated referenced that Tindr is “branching off what we already recognized as hook-up culture”. You then finish the paragraph by stating, “the fact is that apps such as Grindr do support a wide range of interactions that are not necessarily supported by society as a whole, but they help to reinforce the fact that interactions are different and not what would be described as the heterosexual norm.”
What are these differences between Grindr and Tindr that you briefly touched on? As Tindr is largely casual sex and hook-ups, I would of thought they would be fairly similar, but I’m not part of the LGBTQ+ community nor a gay man so I would have been really interested in knowing these details about the differences in the app and the interactions. Even a very quick rundown of specific functionalities of Grindr and why they differ from conventional dating apps.
I very much agree that LGBTQ+ dating apps are a crucial part in establishing supportive communities and a safe space for those members and I think you have communicated this very well throughout your essay.
I did a quick search of Grindr to find out more about its functionality and came across a few articles from 2017 saying that Grindr has opened its doors to heterosexual people for an inclusive – more specifically, trans-inclusive environment but has encouraged heterosexual hook-ups also. What do you think about opening up the app to heterosexual people from a LGBTQ+ perspective? Could this jeopardise the sense of community on the app or is this a move in a more positive and inclusive direction, especially for those who identity as transgender?
Looking forward to your response.
you make a very interesting argument, while the two apps are very similar Grindr
does have a more visible aspect of location based search as in you are presented with a list of
users that are within a preset distance of your location. You also have the added functionality
of filtering your ideal match through the use of what Grindr call tribes, such as twink, bear etc that
a particular individual may choose to identify as.
On the subject of including others besides Gay males on the app I’m personally not against
it but there needs to be accurate filtering available in order to separate
persons, the issue is when Gay men use the app they are almost 100% assured that they will
only see and talk to men who are gay that would have to be an issue that could arise.
Thanks for your comment
Thank you for your paper. it is very interesting and knowledgable. i agree with your point in the paper, no one should be marginalised for any reason, it is very sad and unethical to sentence someone “guilty” just because of its discrepancy, it is extremely ruthless to be isolated. “modern Social platforms and the introduction of Web 2.0 technologies have given a marginalised and historically oppressed community a place to thrive. ” i like this idea very much.
in addition to your paper, i expect to know your idea on how to improve and complete the social applications such as grindr. What expectation do you have on it.
The misunderstanding is one of the main causes of human conflicts, i hope Grindr can also function as a bridge for people from different communities, as the addition to its current main functions.
Thanks for your comment its greatly appreciated,
in terms of adding functions to Grindr this is an
interesting proposition. Grindr is just one of many such applications and social
tools that can be used to help bridge the gap per say between differing
communities. As Web2.0 progresses and technology becomes more ingrained
in our life’s the use of dating apps will only increase and the addition
of Facebook like functionality could be a good idea.
This paper was fantastic, excellent topic and an issue about a stigma placed on the LGBT+ community I feel people still like to pretend isn’t there.
I agree with what you said about people thinking about the dangers that apps such as Grindr can put users in, and whilst I believe there is the potential for those dangers to be present, these dangers are very much still present on dating apps targeted towards heterosexuals, it is unfortunately part and parcel of the way Web 2.0 works.
These sorts of apps and social media I believe are excellent from the LGBT+ community, as it does take the pressure off having to go out and meet someone face to face, something that could be quite daunting for someone young and still struggling to understand, or even accept, their sexuality. They are able to explore it in a way that allows them to safely interact with likeminded people as you stated, from the safety of their own home, as opposed to having to go out to meet people, something that could be very daunting.
I think most importantly what it does, as you said, is strengthen those bonds of community and promote acceptance and freedom of identity, and I think for a minority that has faced a lot of ridicule and still continues to, that sense of community is so valuable.
Excellent stuff, I so enjoyed reading this!
Thanks I’m glad that you enjoyed my paper, you right the same issues and danger are present on any type of dating app or site. Web 2.0 has been fundemental in changing the way in which people find and explore their youth giving rise to a platfrom in which real genuine conversation and soul searching can take place.
Do you think that Web 2.0 is going in the right direction in terms of how people are tending to spend more time online rather than face to face meetings
Thanks for your comment