Apps like Grindr and Scruff are primarily used for hedonistic pursuits.
While people seek and have found love and friendship on these evocative platforms. The instances are often an outcome of sex. But during a pandemic where nobody can be within six feet of each other, what purpose do the apps serve?
One glance at a Grindr grid will show that people are still actively seeking sex.
An informal poll I posted on Twitter revealed that two in 10 gay men have already hooked up in isolation. Despite glaring in-app health warnings, many of these men sourced their dick appointments from Grindr and Scruff.
One of these individuals is Zander, 30, who was out of town for a doctors’ visit (not COVID-related) when the isolation mandate was announced. “I’m alone and figured I’d try to find a person to hook up with while I’m here,” he starts. “Ideally we’d quarantine on our own and only hook up with each other.”
“I’d asked him not to have sex with anyone else for safety and he hadn’t been on Grindr since then so I assumed it was true,” he says.
Zander quickly found his suitor and the two fucked and stayed together for a couple of days to cuddle, socialize and tranquilize the boredom. A few weeks later, his hookup returned for round two.
“I’d asked him not to have sex with anyone else for safety and he hadn’t been on Grindr since then so I assumed it was true,” he says. “But then, after we kissed, he told me he’d been intimate with another person since our first hookup.”
Because the two had already kissed, Zander decided the damage had been done and he might as well finish the job. The two had sex and, again, spent the next few days together. While Zander describes the experience as “amazing,” he immediately felt guilty. “I felt like a selfish prick the whole time,” he says. “But also, it was just sort of too late.”
Daniel, 37, also confesses he’s hooked up with outsiders since the pandemic. But only after he received word that there had not been any new cases in Sint Maarten in two weeks. A New York native, Daniel has been stranded on the Caribbean island with his partner for almost two months. The two were attending a music festival when the pandemic struck.
“I’ve always used Feeld or Scruff to meet other men in the places I’d travel to,” Daniel says. “Before coronavirus, it was mostly for hookups or for tips on good gay bars. Now it’s become more of a resource for connecting to much-needed supplies.”
“I’m going to be a slut for two weeks and then go back to never leaving my house like normal.”
Daniel says these apps including Grindr have been invaluable since he and his partner aren’t familiar with the area or its residents.
“We’ve been able to use the dating apps to secure weed (absolutely necessary), to get rides around town and to get updates on restrictions put in place for residents,” he says. “Just this week we were able to connect to someone who knows the person who owns the local sex shop, so we put in an order of toys, lube, and poppers which is going to be ready for us to pick up when we need it.”
However, most have accepted that they are their safest sex partner and are proactively using their apps to vet and plan future hookups. “I’m just setting up connections for when things are back to normal,” Thabiso, 27, says. “I’m going to be a slut for two weeks and then go back to never leaving my house like normal.”
Mike, 25, is of the same mindset. “I’m plotting my next conquest,” he says. “I’ve got to gather intel on my future prey before I strike.”
The pandemic has added an unforeseeable feature to the platforms. People are conversing and getting to know each other, saying “hi” before sending a dick pic (can you believe?). This concept seemed unfathomable pre-pandemic. And has become an incredible resource for those who are isolated without a roommate or partner.
“I’m on the apps for the conversations because I live alone and can only have so many small talk conversations with friends and family,” Glenn, 28, says. “I’m using it as a means to find someone I can vibe with, talk to, and get to know,” Galen, 33, agrees.
Some admitted that they’re on the apps for then attention and validation. Others are looking for sexy chats, exchanging nudes, and jerking off for each other on Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime.
Many have returned home to spend time in quarantine with family. For Steven, 27, the apps are a temporary refuge. There he can express his sexual identity as he is “no longer able to express it as openly,” in his rural hometown in Mississippi.
“I knew coming home from California wouldn’t be easy,” Steven begins, explaining it is the norm to be closeted in his hometown. “My mom is uncomfortable with my sexuality. We don’t talk about it, and I don’t do anything to engage with her. Because the history is just so negative. I lived at home for a stint before grad school and could sneak out to the bars and feel part of the community. But obviously that is a no-no right now.”
“Scruff brought back Hosting a couple of weeks ago, and I can’t tell you how good it felt to play,” he adds.
Steven says these apps have been essential since returning home. They make him feel more comfortable and connected with the community.
He’s also grateful for the apps’ event pages. Though he has yet to attend any in the event his mom hears the thumping house music or trudges downstairs to find him in a slinky jockstrap.
“Scruff brought back Hosting a couple of weeks ago. And I can’t tell you how good it felt to play,” he adds. “To know I was united with a subset of the community for 20 minutes or so. I was elated.”
To flatten the curve, the rules are simple: we cannot hook up with people outside of our homes. By not abiding by the rules, we are actively putting others at risk. Further delaying the date that it is safe and ethical to get some dick again.
As tempting as it can be to browse Grindr’s grid of sexy gays a few streets away, stay your ass home. Get re-acquainted with your body, purchase that sex toy you’ve been eyeing (we’ve got some recommendations here). Or support your favorite adult talent by subscribing to their OnlyFans. Pair either of these options with RIDE lube and guarantee yourself a good time.