Spontaneity and random human connection are fading concepts, and though they are far more alive in the Gay world, there’s only so much we can be expected to do. When men go out they tend to go with their friends. Once in a space, they either stand at a bar, pretend to laugh at one another’s jokes, or worse, they meet people – a strange nightlife habit among my species that involves sipping drinks and telling total strangers about how wild your last night was and how you work so hard that you don’t have the time to go out anymore. The ones that dance are hopeless anyway. Yet the Gay Community remains the defining arbiter of the one-night stand mythology. We are the young sluts who end up in bed with men of different races, classes, and galactic birthplaces all the damn time. But how are we getting out there if we aren’t getting out there?
We go on our phones.
*Grindr for locals who like to do it in the Fiesta parking lot(this offer has been made to me before, sadly refused)
*Jack’d for L.A. babes with smooth chests and what must be English speaking difficulties
*Manhunt for Gay chiropractors who live alone and are looking for tail while they take a trip to visit their moms in Amarillo
*Scruff for hirsute, pierced, buff guys who live in Silver Lake and don’t have time for bullshit but really like to talk on their profiles about how they don’t have time for bullshit
*and a bunch of other ones that specialize for Daddies, twinks, and races of every type.
The apps have all kinds of features that turn your world into a porno. You can select what kind of body or age or weight class or race you want in your man. Wait a minute – you ask – you can select people based on race? Why yes, you can! Who wants to bother with wading through Pacific Islanders when we can just get to the with stuff, anyway, am I right? I’d like to say that when given the option to pretty much design your perfect selection of men – the way Alicia Silverstone coordinates her robot closet in Clueless or howSchwarzenegger selects his perfect life in Total Recall – enlightened Gays like myself would balk at the idea and accept men of all sizes, races, and, well, sizes. But no, I and my peers cut out the colors and shapes we don’t want to see from our fantasy sex searches, and in so doing, find a new way to marginalize and fetishize the already downtrodden.
It’s addicting. There’s just a gallery of them. Bodies, bodies, bodies. Some guys post face pics. That takes a little courage. When guys show mirror shots in nice outfits it means they probably don’t have a good figure and are super-queeny anyway. The absolute worst are the young guys whose profile pictures are party shots of them and their faghags. No, no, no. Boys, just focus on yourselves. If we have to see a picture of your female friend now, do you think we are going to want to get in bed with her in twenty minutes? Of course, the high standard of this new universe is the hot torso shot. It is what it sounds like. And when you live in L.A., you’d be shocked how many of them there are; just nipples and a six pack and not much else. On Scruff, you can get some tattoos and clamps and stuff, but my point remains. Men with these pictures are by far the most desirable class on the gay sex app gestalt, yet they represent a kind of pitiful victory in our world. In finally getting the body that warrants a hot torso pic, these men are just assimilating all over again. “Finally,” they say, as they pose in front of their roommate’s mirror, “I can make it.” It’s not the face, the smile, or the personality that makes each of these men a winner, but the flat physique that allows them access into the new elite. The journey is over – once your picture can be made a commodity on Jack’d, you can stop cultivating yourself. Go on being simple; just make sure that your body stays accurate to your photo.
I sound like I’m above all this, but trust me, I’m not. I go straight for the profiles with the biggest chests, aged 20-39, with pithy, grammatically incorrect epithets. I go crazy over withholding chatters and I experience regular moments of terror when I realized that I’ve never taken a proper body(or other) shot in my life and I don’t really have the goods to make me a valuable purchase. I feel inadequate. I become a schoolgirl over men I may never meet.
Some of these profile descriptions take weird turns. A surprising amount of guys get oddly defensive or political about app sex etiquette. By writing paragraphs about how you shouldn’t be offended if they don’t respond to you or about how they are looking for masculine guys and how if you don’t have a face pic you shouldn’t even bother, it’s like they think they are taking a stand for inconvenienced incubuses everywhere. I hope they find some peace.
And what is the hell with the activities section on these apps? This whole Caucasian Gay fascination with pretending to be active, classically masculine, and exposed to the outside world is exhausting. If as many men biked, river rafted, and rock climbed as they said they did on Gay sex apps, our mountains and rivers would literally be overrun with homosexuals, stepping over one another to reach the next threshold. “No, no,” one paragon would say to another, “I’m not interested in having sex. My goals concern that river rapid over there.” It’s like these guys looked up stereotypes of lesbians and redesigned their profiles thereafter.
So, you want to know already, what actually happens, when it happens? What’s it like? If you go to a stranger’s house, you usually leave feeling like a call girl. You’ll rarely get the respect you suddenly think you deserve when you are with these guys. And without any pretense, these interactions are pretty base.
But, ideally, they are kind of beautiful. You can meet anyone. He could be famous, or old, or have a body you could never accurately describe to your friends. He could have a really nice, empty kitchen, or a fantastic movie poster hanging above his bed. He could be someone you’ll never see again or the next big story in your life. And to meet him, you didn’t have to go through the pain and humiliation of wading through a dark, pretentious space, betraying your own dignity, and asking a complete stranger to do you the kindness of speaking to you, treating you like a human being, and maybe, just maybe, taking you for one kiss. With the power of these buttons, you are already arrived at their doorstep. The person opposite you is alive, present, and already attained. It’s over. You can close your eyes and just feel something and not wonder how your night will end. You’ve skipped to the end of the video game and it doesn’t matter how you cheated.
But in all my experience, I haven’t been able to shake away the ominous pall of loneliness in these interactions. You enter someone’s silent, clean, costly West Hollywood one-bedroom and wonder: who is he? There’s a fancy knife set, a collection of toy planes, and a protein shake on the table. By the bedside of your older, brawnier paramour rests a framed photograph of an older woman – hopefully his mother. As you quickly dress up when it is over, he’ll mention his livelihood – usually something involving personal training or real estate. How did you get here? You wonder. What’s the point? You are given access into someone’s insides – their very bowels – only to see the hollowness, the coldness, and the endlessness of the life he has made for himself. But somewhere, maybe in the astral plane, there’s a version of him who his blithely mountain biking with no shirt on, and there’s a radiant, truly happy facsimile of you, too, though your photo may be a little blurry.