So, a rant on this — or something along those lines. Who among you has not gotten frustrated and bored with the endless pages of gay dating/hookup apps and their lovely torso photographs? All of which look remarkably alike — they’re gay torsos, after all, so they look worked out and toned, even perhaps manscaped. Often, a buff or not-so-buff torso will even initiate a conversation or reply to a question you’ve asked it.
It’s enough to make a reasonably honest person want to pitch his smartphone off the nearest bridge.
The devolution of male/male contact from highly intricate interpersonal pairings in real time, to the impersonal meat market apps we have today, has had its own evolution – from the BBS-es I remember from the late 1980s to America Online chat rooms to IRC in the 90s and now, in the last several years, to smartphone apps such as Scruff and Grindr. Finally, after all of that, is this what we’ve become to each other, a clickable collection of torsos, penises and butts? Where are the faces? Where is the romance? You’re telling me this is progress?
I can’t believe that.
Here’s Ten Quick Suggestions on rekindling a sense of romance in our smart phone app crazy-crazy world:
- Dress up. Sure, probably you’re reading this at home in front of your laptop wearing your underwear and a dirty t-shirt. Maybe you go about your day – not a work day, but a free day, a day off – and dress up to look your best. Would that make you feel romantic? Works with me, and people notice. (Or maybe try a green carnation in your buttonhole, like they used to do to recognize team members.)
- Go out. Not as in coming out, though you should already be — but get out of the house and meet live humans. So many of “our” places have gone away because people don’t go out anymore – and why bother when you can order a torso in? So:
- Rediscover our gay legacy. The truth is that men were meeting each other, hooking-up and falling in love for eons before the Internet and smart phones. We’d meet in our bars, at the public baths, which became bathhouses, or at bookstores, cruisy plazas and streets where you’d “just know” to go (or some kind person would tell you). So, for those places:
- There’s the fine art of cruising men. In public. This is different from stalking a torso on a phone screen. I think this is becoming a lost art! There are books out there, however. There’s even a video called “The Art of Cruising Men,” while mostly tongue-in-cheek, has lots of accurate and helpful tips for meeting that man of your dreams or even just the man of the hour.
- Learn seduction. Related to but slightly different from cruising, as this is more intentional and has perhaps a longer timeframe to work itself out. This is all about interpersonal relations, and shouldn’t we all aspire to better at those, no matter where we start from? We’ve come to rely on technologies like texting for so much of our communications we don’t remember how to have a real conversation.
- Resolve to be more direct. If you are with a guy and what you really want is to have sex with him, ask directly, as in, “I would like to have sex with you.” Guys will love you for it, and you’ll get some yeses. There’s really nothing quite as sexy as confidence.
- The first runner-up is a winner. Don’t demand perfection, cause you know you’re never going to get it. Remember that nice, pretty good looking guy who said hello to you as you were waiting on Mr. Perfect standing there across the room? Don’t wait too long — that nice non-perfect guy is the one who is going to make you happy.
- Don’t be predictable – try surprising some guy you have a crush on in a really great but not necessarily sexy way. Then couple that with something you learned in Seduction 101as a followup.
- Don’t overlook your friends and acquaintances. We have this advantage over straight people in that our gay friends and buddies could possibly be more to us that we ever thought possible.
- Finally, realize that we as gay men didn’t spend decades fighting for our rights, then another few decades fighting for our lives to live faceless and safe behind a checkerboard on a little screen. There is a community out there we made for ourselves. It’s up to us to keep it.