When a friend is in need it’s important to do whatever you can to help because one day it may be you looking for support. Today was that day for me. A very close friend phoned and by the sound in his voice I knew this was no ordinary S.O.S. call. It was a call filled with self-doubt, anger, frustration and despair. I immediately dropped everything to give my friend a shoulder to cry on.
However, I never expected that his distress call would sound so familiar that I was in utter shock as he explained his deepest thoughts about his recent encounter with someone he met over a digital app (Grindr). For my straight boys and girls, Grindr is a mobile application that helps men find other men for casual connections.
Grindr is an app that was no good for me. It kept me in a box (the virtual world) and never allowed me to grow. Personally for me using the app made my world smaller making no room to “freely live real & true” and find a person who was not either doing drugs, cheating on their partner, or trying to fulfill some dark sexual fantasy they would be embarrassed to share with their family, 9 to 5 friends or even closest gay friends for that matter.
Needless to say, my friend recently met someone using Grindr and based on their hot and heavy back and forth conversation they decided to meet. When they met for a movie, at first sight they both decided the date was a go. Unfortunately by the end of the date that was no longer the case. The simple movie date ended with the other person doing what I call the disappearing act, scurrying off like they’ve seen a ghost with no explanation. It’s in these moments an average person’s self-esteem is bruised and this is where the trouble starts causing a downward spiral of negative emotions, “something’s wrong with me”, “I’m not going to find love”, “no-one wants a meaningful relationship anymore”, “They never pick up the phone, they only text me.” Negative thoughts similar to the ones I’ve mentioned are the reason my self-esteem was broken for several years. I never realized until years later that the problem wasn’t me but the method and the reason I was choosing to use Grindr or other websites to find love.
In most cases that rejection turns into something much greater because of it. However, my friend was brave enough to text the guy to find out what happened. As we all know it’s hard to let someone down but it’s worse when a person is insensitive or immature to not do it in person (face to face) or over the phone, rather they prefer to run and do it via a text message or not at all.
My friend’s story quickly reminded me how much pain I experienced using sites like, Scruff, Grindr and Manhunt, etc. My experience with these sites was never positive, I would always end up meeting the person who was not emotionally stable or mature enough to handle an already difficult and awkward situation.
In my quest to stop using these apps, I realized I adapted to using them because at a time in a gay man’s life, we didn’t have the basic right to love who we wanted to or the option to marry that person. It wasn’t until gay marriage started to be a hot topic and be an option that I realized the apps served a purpose in my life. I hid behind the rejection of the world giving me the illusion of acceptance from the community I found online. However, that idea changed quickly once marriage became an option in NYC.
I no longer have to hide behind the idea of loving another man. I can share my deepest desire that I want to be married and live with the love of my life for the rest of my life. It might sound too “white picket fence” but it’s a dream I was not allowed to live or share because I didn’t have that right. Now that I have the right to marry, it all made sense. I used these apps because I was ashamed of being a hopeless romantic and having the dream of being married one day so I escaped into a world that was not healthy for me. It became a very toxic place which is why I deleted Grindr and all other apps.
Now that I have the option to find love and experience marriage like everyone else I felt it was time to unplug and search for my prince charming without barriers. Deleting these apps was my attempt to freely live real & true.
**Since this article Corey Wesley was invited to comment on NPR.