What’s up, Bro: An honest review of the dating app for straight, sensible men

Men have always had it easy.

Gay or straight, the laws of online dating have always been balanced. Gay men have Grindr. Straight men have Tinder. But what about straight men looking to woo (or wingman with) other men, you ask?

 Say hello to Bro, the app that everyone is talking about.

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Launched in early 2016, (but like most other things, making its debut in India a year later) Bro promises that it ‘goes beyond using labels, and is for men that are interested in meeting other guys – it’s as simple as that.’ It doesn’t say it’s a sex app (in those many words) – it’s for men seeking friendships, men who want to date, men who want casual hookups and all the permutations and combinations in between – without the baggage of old labels and questions by older relatives.

 Straight, gay or bisexual – Bro is an all-accepting sausage fest, and makes no qualms about it. It’s online dating without typecasting itself as online dating. In fact, Bro advertises itself as the app that welcomes men who don’t feel welcome in the gay community. It finally lets people be what they shouldn’t be embarrassed of being – sexually fluid. Sexuality is a continuum and not a binary, and Bro recognizes that. But beneath the blue and white, straight man-friendly exterior, does it really offer anything that Grindr doesn’t?

 Yes, and no. There are less faceless torsos, more happy faces of people doing happy things. There’s always been a grey area between the boundaries of sex, relationships and friendship, and when an app asks you whether you are looking to find friendship, fun or ‘whatever’, Bro wins hands down in the grey department, all fifty shades of it. It’s for men who don’t want to commit – to labels, or a relationship – In fact, men can even ‘fist bump’ each other to show their sign of approval, so that they can be comfortable in their skin when they ultimately do ask each other for a blowjob (they are just one football jersey short of not really questioning their sexuality after using it.) This is my one grouse with the app; it puts heteronormativity on a pedestal.

 I am neither a bro, nor am I straight – so I break both the cardinal rules when I decide to try it out – I am not one to shy away from finding true love, even if it’s with a potentially straight man. How do I do as a bro?

 Not so well, but I’d let you be the judge of that with my six day gaycation on the app:

Day 1:

 I download the app with the vigour and hope that I usually reserve for the first day of a clearance sale. The app’s interface is bright, multi-racial and eye-catching, which is great – because that’s how I like my boys. After a quick sign up where it chides me for my stats, preferences and HIV status, Bro does what no other dating app does.

 It asks me to sort myself.

 Am I the beefy Jock Bro? A nerdy Brogrammer? A muscular G.I Bro? A preppy Bro? Casual Bro? Suited Bro? Lumber Bro, Hipster Bro or the ‘surprised-to-see-you-here’ fabulous Bro?

 I choose the casual Bro because no hipster would ever admit to being one.

 Once I am set, a grid of hopefuls show up –I am slightly disappointed. It’s a sea of men I’ve blocked on Grindr, long forgotten exes, a few friends and men I’ve always seen around but never spoken to.

I dive in.

 Day 2:

 I start my second day with a fresh fist bump. It’s Gautam, a video editor who I went on a date with a few months ago. I’ve swiped right on Gautam on Tinder; Woof’d at him on Scruff, and starred him as a favourite on Grindr. I do the only sensible thing left to be done. I send a fist bump back at him, in the awkward way I would in middle school. (Side note: I’ve never really been great at fist bumping – the last person I fist bumped was my three-year-old nephew.)

 ‘What are you doing here?’ he texts me.

‘I was going to ask you the same question,’ I text him back.

 ‘Just checking out the scene on the other side of the tracks, bro,’ he pings back. We both have a laugh over it, ending our abrupt conversation with a crisp LOL from each side. We make plans to meet soon, but we both know that we won’t.

 That’s the last I hear from him.

 Day 3:

 I strike up a conversation with a new face: 27-year-old Ankit’s profile says that he’s spontaneous, funny and charming with a hairy chest. He’s also straight, and inconspicuously (but not surprisingly) from New York.

 I say hello with a non-committal ‘Ssup?’ – could this be the start of a sitcom-level bromance (with six season and a movie) where we wingman each other at bars?

I wait for ten minutes. I wait for an hour. I wait for a whole day.

 He never replies, killing my sitcom dreams even before we can shoot a pilot.

 Day 4:

 Still reeling from the rebuttal, I open my bro with no new expectations. The app doesn’t disappoint – apart from two requests for my sexual preference, my message inbox is emptier than my heart. I switch off, vowing to never come back again.

I go back the next day.

 Day 5:

 I get fist bumped by a girl.

 She tells me she’s bisexual; I tell her I am surprised. The awkward silence resonates forever, but my relationship with Bro doesn’t.

 The Verdict:

 Breaking norms and reestablishing sexual fluidity aside, I realize I wouldn’t want to go find bros before my hos. It’s simply not my cup of tea. Instead, I’d pass it over for a keg of beer and a beautiful boy who wants me for a little more than ‘whatever, bro’.

 And for that, I’ve got Grindr and my wine shop on speed dial.

A 25 Boys Not To Date Post Your Valentine’s Day Slump

As you reel out of your Valentine’s Day hangover and pull out the last of the heart-shaped confetti from your hair, know that the worst is behind. You can finally make peace with the fact that you will sip your way through a cat-filled life in the suburbs.

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As you brew your pot of peppermint tea and lay out a platter of biscuits, here are a further 25 men that you should swipe left on, this side of Valentine’s Day:

Continue reading A 25 Boys Not To Date Post Your Valentine’s Day Slump

What we talk about when we talk about love.

What is love?

Is it a constant release of oxytocins or a woeful struggle to become the best version of yourself? Is it a cheaper substitute for cocaine? An attitude that lands you a starring role in every Bollywood blockbuster? Most importantly, is it the premise of every Beatles song?

Love is a lot of things.

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To celebrate Valentine’s Day with my refrigerator full of wine, I spoke to six different LGBT couples about romance and its sweeping presence in their lives – as a day, as a feeling, or as a constant state of being that doesn’t make them want to kill their significant other. Through text, long distance phone calls and two really hot cups of coffee, here’s what we talked about when we talked about love:

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14 Reasons Why Valentine’s Day Isn’t All That Bad

 

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It’s that time of the year.

Valentine’s Day. Hearts, flowers, economically destructive sales, ecologically destructive confetti, cheap chocolates and cheaper motives for the whole world to see.

While it’s usually tradition for most of us to dismiss it as a farce that lets stationers and chocolate makers take their annual holiday to the Bahamas, I’ve pledged to be nicer (less cynical) this year. As I look forward to 2017 with a sense of optimism that can only be the result of too many wine spritzers, here are 14 reasons why Valentine’s Day (never call it V-Day) isn’t all that bad:

  1. Your Grindr is going to be very, very busy.

 No one wants to be alone on Valentine’s Day – especially the torso across the street, who asks you for a dick pic every alternate night. Three glasses of red wine and one life-changing Rom Com later, you are going to be swiping right faster than the speed of light.

Because everyone else certainly is.

Continue reading 14 Reasons Why Valentine’s Day Isn’t All That Bad