Tag Archives: Modern Romance

How We Met Each Other: A Brief History Of Finding Queer Love

instagram

Rizvaan, 20, and Sumeir, 22, met each other on Instagram.

Somewhere over their matching flower crown filters and millennial names, they found and added each other, and (over a period of many Instagram stories and inappropriate GIFs) hopelessly fell in love.

Rizvaan calls it fate; the other calls it public privacy settings. It’s been a relationship of many ups and downs, but they’ll always agree on one thing — they look their best with the puppy dog filter (which they use extensively to woo each other).

Dating is that simple today.

There’s no denying that Rizvaan and Sumeir have had it easy.

Before Instagram became an overnight phenomenon for men (and women) to flirt with each other, the dating world for the quintessential gay man was a very different place (even sans the filters); over the past few decades, we’ve come a long way — and it’s nothing like the world we live in today, or the one we read about.

It all starts many thousands of years ago.

Throughout our ancient texts, there have been various descriptions of a multitude of saints, gods and demi-gods breaking gender norms much before Jaden Smith even knew what it meant –– Vedic literature speaks of Mitra and Varuna, gods of great intimacy who were often mentioned together. They ruled over the universal waters; the former controlled the ocean depths and the lower portals, while the latter governed over the ocean’s upper regions, rivers and shorelines (no wet jokes allowed by the editor).

Then, there are mentions of Agni, the god of fire, wealth and creative energy, having various same-sex sexual encounters that involve ‘accepting semen’ from other gods. Elsewhere, Mohini, the ‘female’ avatar of Lord Vishnu has been worshipped throughout Indian culture — gay, bisexual or transgendered — it’s evident that LGBT men have existed ever since mankind did.

And they’ve been finding each other ever since.

Over the decades, we’ve gone past searching for the next big something under the neighbourhood streetlight — we’ve fondled other men in unused washrooms, signaled each other with colourful handkerchiefs at traffic signals, and bumped into one another at seedy, dingy bars (and then a few drinks later, in bed). Was it the whirlwind marathon that I make it sound to be?

Not really. That’s close to four decades of gay cruising, concised in four sentences.

And then everything changed. The nineties happened.

In 1990, the country saw its first LGBTQ platform in the form of Bombay Dost, also the nation’s first queer magazine. It welcomed men seeking men to write letters to each other, making personals popular much before Shaadi.com did. But that’s not all — as we excitedly filled in our classifieds and preferences, trends changed once again. Online portals like Yahoo Messenger and MSN Chat provided a substitute to the magazines in the mid-nineties, and we moved from personals to personal chat rooms. We hid behind usernames and blank silhouettes, stepping into a new sexual revolution that would slowly fashion itself into the one we know today.

This was the beginning of a new form of liberation. Now, we got to type out our ASLs in anonymous Yahoo chat rooms and giggle over gay personals in queer magazines. The trip from the streets to the sheets has been long and hard (no pun intended), but it’s been an interesting journey indeed. Vijay, a 40-something friend who runs an NGO, has seen both sides of the millennium, and he has a lot to say about it.

‘I’ve found myself in a public washroom more than once,’ he tells me over drinks one night. ‘And I found myself loud and clear, if you really know what I mean,’ he adds with a lecherous wink.

really don’t — he’s an activist, so I think that nothing he says can be inappropriate (politically correct, yes).

‘What do you mean?’ I still ask, not being able to help myself.

‘I’ve had help, and it was beautiful.’

‘How so?’

It turns out it was very beautiful, indeed — and a lot of men helped over the years. A cab driver from Bhilai, a student from an Arts college in town, two stockbrokers who work in the financial district, a waiter from an Udipi restaurant down the road and a television star with a girlfriend who stays by the sea (the one time). His list goes on for 10 more minutes — detailed musings of his encounters and escapades, as I drink glass after glass of diluted rum. ‘I know it’s easier now, but there was an adrenaline rush every time you found someone new — was he gay? Would he understand the signal? What if he told on me? What if someone walked in? That made up for more than half of the excitement of having sex.’

Where do we go from here?

Not the restroom.

We evolve (So did Vijay, who is a veteran). We’ve moved on from clandestine trysts in wash rooms to ones on our phones in ways that were previously unimaginable. It’s 2018, and dating apps today are the manifestation of what mankind has been doing for centuries — devising new forms of communication, and then manipulating them for finding love, sex and long-term relationships.

Technology is revolutionising romance. Over the past few years, we’ve sent ‘footprints’ to torsos on Planet Romeo, favourited boys on Grindr, woofed at hopefuls on Scruff and super-liked our way through a dozen matches on Tinder. And we’ve even got the numbers to prove it. With more than 10 million users worldwide, Grindr recorded a surge from 11,000 to 69,000 active new users every month — simply within a span of four years, and that was back in 2015. Scruff, on the other hand, deals with smaller pools of men. And even though they only have an outreach of about 15,000 users in India, they still saw a 25 percent growth within two months of their launch. Numbers never lie; unless it’s the phone number you pass on at the end of a drunken night.

Today, even though online dating has been in the headlines (of mostly trashy online magazines and internet sex columns) for ‘hijacking modern love’ and trivialising the concept of everyday romance, we are at the dawn of a new age. Every year, new dating apps and websites sprout, making it easier for men seeking men to find each other, and fall in love (or in bed.)

And now, we are only moving on to better things — retweeting tweets to rekindle romances through Twitter, poking men indiscreetly on Facebook and waiting for them to salaciously poke us back, sending Instagram love to anonymous strangers, sharing their intimate brunches, birthdays, all the while gushing at pictures of Bobo, their cocker spaniel, when you’d rather be gushing over a romantic breakfast in bed for two. If you look at it, things haven’t changed much. We still scout the roads and send winks, only now we do it from our smartphones — social media has never been more sexual.

Technology makes trysting easier, because now you longer need to explain to a policeman why two grown men are parked in a side alley at midnight, with their pants (and inhibitions) lowered all the way down to their knees. The underworld of gay romances is so out and about, it could be a badly written Karan Johar movie.

And yet, we are nowhere near the end.

Like I said, this is just the beginning. All you have to do is break in.

Just make sure you use the right Instagram filter.

The Guysexual’s Brutally Honest Review Of Delta

Delta_app_guysexual_by_amrai

It should come as no surprise when I say that I’ve traversed the A-Z of online dating to find the elusive needle in the haystack of honest, hot men. I found a few As, a couple of Bs and a whole lot of Zs. I’ve dodged some Xs and questioned a bunch of Ys.

But it still looks like we’ve missed a few Ds. Well, there’s only one thing left to do.

Dial D for Delta.

Just make sure you don’t hit up the American airline company with the same name.

What it is:

Delta calls itself ‘India’s first homegrown LGBT community, networking and support app’, and if you didn’t get that the first time they told you, they’ll make it a point to reiterate it everywhere else — on their website, in your email inbox and even your phone’s push notifications — in fact, it’s one ‘good morning’ text away from being an active part of your family’s WhatsApp group.

Ping.

Ping.

Ping.

Do we have a spammer in the house?

And yet, the app doesn’t disappoint. Delta is to the Indian queer moment what Grindr is to the international gay scene – it’s revolutionising the LGBTQIA+ community over the country, sans the unsolicited dick pics and bare-chested torsos.

How it works:

What sets Delta apart from other dating (or ‘networking’) apps is that it can be used by the entire umbrella of the queer spectrum — which automatically makes it more woke than everything else out there (that includes you, Jack’d). It looks like we have a winner!

‘Would I want to meet and date amazing singles from the community?’ it asks me. Well, as an ‘amazing single’ from the community, I’d really like to. The interface (which was a lot choppier in the beta version) is easy to use — just like my range of emotions.

Profiles pop up one after the other, names fully hidden (a step up from Hinge) and a compatibility quiz waiting to find you your future plus one. There are 16 questions in all, but as long as I am not the one being played, I really don’t mind answering any of them (unlike my Class 11 Advanced Physics quiz, where every question was a player).

Each profile comes with a trust score — men (and women) are verified by their phone numbers, email addresses, Facebook statuses and even a selfie (because hello, 2018) — the higher your score, the more the number of sparks that get credited into your account. These are what you send to each other to match and (ultimately) unlock names, and other such trivial details.

Are we done yet? Because I am ready to start dating. I send sparks to a few boys who look interesting. And I hope for a few (read: at least one) on the side.

And then I wait. And I wait. And I wait. I go and take their quiz again.

And then I wait some more.

The app draws a blank, just like I did in my high school Physics paper.

What I like about it:

Delta’s compatibility feature is a breath of fresh air — pairing people based on common interests, and things that actually matter (unlike Scruff’s Match tool) — such as their expectations from a long-term partner and their views on a long-distance relationship, rather than their preferences in bed.

It’s an app that really tries hard to make a difference (with much emphasis on the ‘trying’), but fails only because of one crucial kink in the plan — people lie on their compatibility tests just like they like on their LinkedIn resumes — so that attractive surgeon who thinks that jealousy has no place in a loving relationship? Chances are he’s already blacklisted all your exes.

And he’s probably going to blacklist you too.

What I don’t like about it:

Like all the boys I’ve ever dated, Delta is perfect on paper. An app that redefines inclusion? Hell, yes. A calendar that’s packed with LGBTQIA+ events and inclusive-brands? Swipe out those debit cards. Most importantly, a secure space for the queer community? Sign me up, please.

But like all the boys I’ve dated, Delta has one major problem — it hasn’t made up its mind on what it wants to be. It ends us looking confused, trying to find itself in a world full of labels. Is Delta a dating app? Is it a networking platform? Is it a matchmaking service? Is it a brand-listing device?  Is it a discussion forum? Is it a helpline? Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

Sadly, it’s no Superman.

Bonus Feature:

The app’s Instagram feed gives me a boner — it’s inspiring, inquisitive and invigorating — just like I want my men to be. Here’s a giant shout to their social media rep, who not only needs a raise, but also my phone number.

Who is it for:

If you are really tired of all the apps I (tirelessly) reviewed over the past nine+ weeks, then you should swing the doors wide open for Delta. It’ll probably show up in a tux, bearing a box of chocolates and a bouquet of red roses (or tulips, if you like them). It’ll make sure it talks about all the right things, and woos you with all the right words.

And most importantly, it won’t even make a big deal if you don’t put out at the end of the date (side note: but it’s totally your choice if you want to).

Guysexual’s Grade-o-meter:

Hookability: 6/10

Compatibility: 9/10

Usability: 7/10

Downloadability: 7/10

The Guysexual’s Brutally Honest Review Of Jack’d

 

Jack'd

You’re probably tired by now.

We’ve gallivanted with Grindr, tangoed with Tinder, sneakily seduced Scruff, bumped awkwardly into Bro at the mall, and had an honest conversation with Hinge and Happn (but separately) about where this (relationship) is headed.

Thinking of giving up already?

Not so fast. Say hello to Jack’d.

What it is: Like Grindr, Jack’d shows users around 300 eligible guys on an interface that is geo-located by those closest to where you are. Unlike Grindr, Jack’d is tailored specifically for people of colour.

When you are already in a minority group, finding someone with interests or expectations that match your own can be difficult. It can seem that all the apps out there cater to only one type of man – the ‘straight-acting, fit-bodied sapiosexual’. Jack’d appears to have the most diverse community of users, broken down into what they refer to as ‘scenes’ – twinks, bears, big muscles, strictly friends, LTR (Long Term Relationships) and straight/bi-curious. By choosing which scene you identify with, you make it easier for other people who are attracted to your type to find you.

No more disappointments. No more d*****bags who don’t text back.

How it works: Jack’d requires users to rate each other, but moving away from the Tinder style of swiping, men tick either a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’ box under a profile to suggest whether they’re into someone else or not. Which means, you won’t need a wingman when you’ve got Jack’d in your hands.

The app might look like it’s geared more towards NSA (No Strings Attached) meetups, but rather than encourage X-rated pictures, the tone on Jack’d is more sophisticated – more Aamir Khan, less Kamal R Khan. Users can create an album of grandma-friendly pictures, which are so PG-13, you can (accidentally) project them even at work.

Not that you should.

What I like about it: The parent company of the Jack’d app is a company called Online Buddies, who made the bold claim that the app is the ‘fastest-growing gay social app in the whole world’. Do I believe them?

Yes, because when an app says this (read: concluding line) in their brand motto, you know you’ve got yourselves a winner – ‘If you like him, tell him. If you don’t like how that feels, say so. Girl, if you like short shorts, wear them.’

Jack’d believes that the ability to ‘stand up and tell it like it is’ is what makes the LGBTQIA+ community stand out, and promote an inclusive and authentic community of users.

What I don’t like about it: I am just really tired of writing reviews for dating apps right now. That’s it.

Bonus feature: Of course, to keep in line with all the other apps, there is a premium service, which provides users with a more personalised experience. Jack’d Pro offers unlimited daily matches, more advanced filtering services, anonymous profile viewing, and ‘insight’ data on people you may like.

It’s the FBI agent of online dating.

Who is it for: If you still aren’t bogged down with the repository of gay online dating apps, jack up your chances of finding your potential soul mate with Jack’d.

There’s a high chance he’ll be as woke as the app.

Guysexual’s Grade-o-meter:

Hookability: 7/10

Compatibility: 6/10

Usability: 6/10

Downloadability: 6/10

The Guysexual’s Brutally Honest Review Of Hornet

hornet

 

How many online dating apps does it take to screw on a light bulb?

I wouldn’t know. But what I do know for a fact is that there’s no dearth of them when it comes to the queer community – from the morally ambiguous (Planet Romeo) to the sexually ambiguous (Bro), this giant pool is one that you can take multiple laps in. Ready for another round right to the fag end?

Oh hi there, Hornet.

What it is: Conventionally speaking, Hornet is an upgraded version of Grindr. Daunting name aside, the app lets you match with your future plus one, while letting you find him in a pretty grid of handsome men all by yourself – and usually from all over the world (separating it from the other apps by a wide margin). Gush over Hollywood with Ryan from Los Angeles, parley over Pisco Sours with Anthony from Peru, serenade Haruto from Japan with stories of your mild obsession with sushi, or ramble over world politics with Vladimir from Russia – you don’t need any flight tickets to get flirty on Hornet. Only visa on arrival.

Like Grindr, Hornet targets pretty much all kinds of men (who are into dating other men), rather than having a niche audience like Scruff, which is for older men or Happn, which is for roadside creeps. Unlike Grindr, you can also ‘follow’ other users, search for men using hashtags, and have multiple pictures up on your profile. So does that make Hornet the ‘Instagram’ of the gay dating world?

Maybe so, but you don’t need any filters here. What gives Hornet its extra sting is the fact that it’s so simple to use, your grandmother could use it.

Not that she should.

How it works: Hornet borrows its features from all over the Internet, trying to make itself ‘the perfect app for gay singles’. In fact, it even uses the same template that Scruff does – grids of four, stacked up to create a jigsaw puzzle of all the gay men using the app in your neighborhood (and beyond). The app targets a diverse range of gay, bisexual and curious men.

However, Hornet’s editorial content appeals to a wider LGBT+ community, so it could also interest women and non-binary people who are interested in reading about queer issues.

What I like about it: While Hornet might seem like your typical gay dating app that will soon find its way into your trash folder (because you are just so used to Grindr), it does what no other queer-exclusive app can do – it lets you play matchmaker and forward a profile to a friend. You might not earn a boyfriend this way, but you’d win over bottles full of karma. And last I checked, that’s always a good thing.

UPDATE: Tinder has a similar feature, but when has Tinder ever been the representation of a queer dating app?

What I don’t like about it: Although it’s highly travel-friendly, if you strip Hornet down to its core, it’s just a paella of all the pros (and cons) of other dating apps from the App store. Sure, the ads are less intrusive and you can have more than one picture up on your profile, but at the end of the day, it’s all old (and some new) features in new packaging. So what do you do?

Just shunt it off as a Christmas present to your (less fortunate) gay friends.

Who is it for: For men who like it easy, but don’t want to seem easy.

Hornet is for guys who want that extra push when they are looking for a fling (or a ring) – something that shunts them all across the world. No travel stamps necessary.

Guysexual’s Grade-o-meter:

Hookability: 7/10

Compatibility: 6/10

Usability: 8/10

Downloadability: 7/10

The Guysexual’s Brutally Honest Review Of Tinder

Tinder_Guysexual_amraidua

 

Online dating will always be shunned and sniggered at, like the fat kid from school that no one spoke to. Dating apps are usually hidden, stacked between photo-editing apps and to-do lists, away from prying eyes, pudgy fingers and awkward questions.

Why so?

It’s simple. It’s completely against the idea of a textbook romance — meeting someone at a party or at the local bookshop, bumping into each other, and falling head-over-heels in love with each other at first sight.

But that’s where you are wrong.

If you think your next big love isn’t hidden behind a mesh of profiles on the dating app of your choice, there’s a very big chance he’s not waiting for you at the bar with free drinks (and if he is, there’s a chance he might give you chlamydia). Conventional ways of finding love are dying out and for good reason, because we just don’t have the time (or the hope to leave things to chance).

So as we traverse through the desert of online dating with pit stops over at GrindrScruff and Hinge, here’s presenting the oasis at the end of many (many) dating dust storms.

Say hi to Tinder. She’s swiping right on you already.

What it is: Tinder is the It-girl of dating apps, the one that all the others want to be like, and secretly hate. Like the nagging aunt, it shows you picture after picture of suitable men (and women) – because perfection doesn’t come easy, and here, it can come more than once. But what sets it apart from the nagging aunt in question?

Tinder has a strict ‘no-judgments-passed’ policy, which comes to play as you test-drive your way through the sea of suitable men. Well, no one said that finding a potential mate was easy. They aren’t all Planet Romeo.

How it works: You can swipe right to ‘Like’, or turn left to ‘Oh-I-don’t-think-so’. Tinder is a clearance sale of Facebook profile pictures. You collect the ones you love, and ignore the ones you don’t. But then, the pile keeps on growing, and you don’t know what to do. Unless someone collects you too.

Intellectually, can Tinder be considered as the online dating app for the people who have given up on online dating?

Truly so. Unless you are my friend, Kartik.

Last month, the 29-year-old copywriter came across Rajeev — he was handsome, gay (and not sexually fluid like the boys on Bro), ran his own start-up, and at 6’ 2” (Rajeev’s profile told him), he was a lot taller than Kartik was. Was he the light at the end of a tunnel of d*****bags and dimwits? More importantly, could their mutual love for Rihanna, Banksy and Humans Of New York account for total compatibility in the romance department? Probably not, but maybe Tinder could help them meet halfway there (not literally, like in the case of Happn).

Kartik (super) liked right and waited.

And waited. And waited. He waited for all of 23 days, seven hours and 42 minutes. Rajeev never matched back. Obsessing over a text message is a little crazy, but when you’re in an online relationship (or not), that’s really all you have. Are you allowed to feel heartbroken if you’ve never met someone in person?

If real-life relationships are taxing and nerve-wracking, the ones you find here are only better – every curve ball that life throws at you, Tinder throws two. The biggest of them all: How do you answer the classic – ‘How did you two meet?’ – milestone that every couple that meets through Tinder dreads.

It’s simple. You tell them you met each other at Starbucks.

What I like about it: Unlike most dating apps for queer men (and women), Tinder doesn’t allow immediate, unfiltered communication. No more message requests. No more unsolicited dick pics. No more ‘I-see-that-you-are-50-metres-away-wanna-hook-up?’

Chat (and ultimately cuddle up) with only people you match with – not that there’s a guarantee a man won’t turn out to be a d*****bag after 50 texts full of witty prose.

What I don’t like about it: Like most good things in life, finding true love on Tinder doesn’t come free. See, Tinder might be your best bet to meet your future plus one, But Tinder Plus (or Gold for the select few who can afford it) is where you strike gold, no puns intended.

Unlimited right swipes? Hell yes. Rewind the accidental ones? Obviously. That one-off (brilliant) chance to skip the queue? Definitely. 3X chances of finding a soul mate? That’s a third of the catfishes you have to wade through before you find your Prince Charming.

Now I was always good at math, but these numbers don’t make any sense at all.

Bonus feature: They say a picture speaks a thousand words, but Tinder’s extensive library of GIFs and customised emojis can write a book. Cat got your tongue as you flirt your way with the hot travel photojournalist who you (super) liked? There’s an appropriate ‘wanderlust’ GIF in there somewhere.

Tips to follow: As a single gay man, do you still think that the quintessential dating app is the only speed bump on your journey towards finding a fulfilling NSA (no-stress at all) relationship?

Make an effort with your profile. Your vital stats and sexual preferences might get you sex in 30 minutes or less, but a soul mate? Not so much.

Stop using the app only after midnight – you are not fooling anyone when you want to meet for a date in the middle of the night. In your bedroom.

Stop tlking lyk dis 2 ppl online.

Be nice, be charming, be yourself – but most importantly, be kind, rewind.

Who is it for: Because the worst of us need a fairy tale to believe in.

For all the times you don’t find a Fairy Godmother to help you on your quest to seek true love, Tinder swipes right in and saves the day. She’d even give you a makeover if you have Tinder Gold.

But that’s another story.

Guysexual’s Grade-o-meter

Hookability: 8/10

Compatibility: 9/10

Usability: 8/10

Downloadability: 9/10

The Guysexual’s Brutally Honest Review Of Bro

 

bro_review

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 Hinge. 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.

What it is: Launched in early 2016, 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.

How it works:  Straight, gay or bisexual — Bro is an all-accepting sausage fest, and has 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 recognises 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 50 shades of it.

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 five-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 GI 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 10 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 rejection, 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.

What I like about it: Like I said, 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.

But sexually lucid? Not so much.

What I don’t like about it: ‘Bro’ is 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.

And that’s the last thing that needs a throne in 2018.

Who is it for: Breaking norms and reestablishing sexual fluidity aside, I realise 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.

***

Guysexual’s Grade-o-meter:

Hookability: 3/10

Compatibility: 4/10

Usability: 5/10

Downloadability: 6/10

The Guysexual’s Brutally Honest Review Of Happn

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Love can be found in the most unexpected places.

If you are the smart, suave Jane Austen novel-inspired hero, you can find love as you rummage through old classics at the bookstore. You can lock eyes with your future soul mate as you order an Old Fashioned at the bar. You can even fall hopelessly head-over-heels in love with a fellow patient in your doctor’s waiting room (just make sure it’s not your therapist). The train station? Obviously. The supermarket? Hell yes. Your nephew’s PTA meet at school – why not? The world is your oyster to shuck. But what happens when you are shy and mild-mannered, and have the self-confidence of a prepubescent teenage boy?

This is when Happn happens.

What it is: Happn is an app for your missed connections. Whether it’s the cute writer whose number you forgot to ask or the attractive waiter at the coffee shop who slipped you an extra cookie, the app lets you reconnect with people when you didn’t get an opportunity to do so. It’s your boost of confidence. Your (slightly creepy) wingman. Your second chance. Your ‘other door’ when the first one slams shut in your face.

Like they say, Happn is a real time playground for love. Now get down and dirty, but beware of the jungle gym of romantic entanglements that never work.

How it works: Happn picks up everyone within a 250-metre radius and presents them to you like an open buffet of opportunities. It’s every stalker’s dream-come-true. Which brings me to June 2017.

I saw him pull over at the signal, as I was halfway through a chicken sandwich. He was inconspicuously tall and conventionally good-looking – and I was mere meters away from staging a meet-cute. He looked at me through his window just as the traffic lights switched from red to green, and my face switched from green to red. Tossing his floppy black hair out of his eyes, he smiled and drove by. I felt my heart race along, but it couldn’t keep up – he’d already zoomed away into oblivion. Was this a burning heart, or heartburn? I threw the last bits of the sandwich away, just in case.

This is where Happn comes in.

Open the app, and watch as it loads up everyone who you’ve potentially crossed paths with in your life (although they need to have downloaded the app and have similar sexual preferences). Recognise someone you might have seen pass by and want to show him that you are interested?

Just send him a heart on Happn, and hope that he sends one back – that’s the secret way of letting a match know that you ‘like’ them secretly, so they won’t know you are interested in them unless they’re interested in you too. If you want to be more persuasive (as I am wont to be), you can even send a ‘charm’, sliding your way into their DMs, or in this case, their match lists with the flair of a self-proclaimed dating coach.

But do remember, Happn has as much probability of connecting you to the hunky model you saw at the bar last night, as it does of setting you up with the creepy neighbour from across the street – the same one who’s always looking at you through his plastic drapes. Stay cautious, stay safe.

What I like about it: On Happn, matches include the company and job title of each user, which makes it easy to do your research if a potential paramour seems particularly dodgy (not that anyone’s career choices are a measure of their shadiness).

What I don’t like about it: Because Happn matches its users with people they’ve physically passed during the day, if the match ends in an uncomfortable conversation, it can feel uncomfortable – and depending on the situation – unsafe for one or both parties if they’re habitually crossing each other commuting to work or otherwise.

Happn also works better in big cities than in small towns. The more people you pass during the run of your day, the higher the chances of meeting the one true love of your life – which means it also automatically increases your chances of being pestered by creeps, douchebags and potential serial killers that you might have passed (without giving a second eye) on the road. Keep your hearts open, but make sure that your eyes are even more so.

Who is it for: For those who believe in second chances.

Just make sure you have a friend on SOS, and the neighbourhood’s ‘sex offender’s list’ downloaded for perusal on your smartphone.

Guysexual’s Grade-o-meter:

Hookability: 6/10

Compatibility: 1/10

Usability: 4/10

Downloadability: 4/10

The Guysexual’s Brutally Honest Review Of Scruff

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It’s no secret that Grindr is on a one-app mission to be the centre of the gay universe — especially with its online magazine, a new tapping feature and the rather special gaymoji keyboard. Grindr is thus, the rightful king of all queens.

But what happens when you want your men to have more character (and more importantly, more hair)?

Say hello to Scruff.

What it is: Like Grindr, Scruff is a grid of available, attractive gay men with pictures in various stages of undress. It’s infested with bears, otters, wolves and cubs. Is this an app or a zoo?

It’s a mating ground, but more on that later. Scruff follows Grindr’s tried-and-tested formula: scroll through a near-endless grid of thumb-sized profiles of men with not-so-thumb-sized d*cks.

Only this one comes with a few twists and knots on the way, no puns intended. See, Scruff’s all black, faux-tough guy motif isn’t all that memorable, but every gay man’s second favourite dating app comes with its own set of redeeming qualities — namely a narrowed down user base with millions of guys on the hairier side. And they are all looking for the same thing.

You.

How it works: Being slightly more niche than Grindr, Scruff doesn’t have the same critical mass of users, nor the cultural clout. But Scruff is no nonsense that way. It comes with a purpose — letting scruffy men find their hairier halves. You woof at people you like, leaving them little red notifications of love that they can sniff back to your account. However, Scruff’s standard layout allows four profiles in a row (as opposed to Grindr’s three) — so a guy who looks cute in a tiny, thumbnail picture might not look the same blown up — after all, you don’t want your thumbnail Akshay Kumar to look like Akshaye Khanna when you zoom in. The only silver lining on the scruffy cloud, though?

It allows you to search for like-minded men in other cities (and offer airBnB style travel accommodation for the same), making it ideal for that vacation fling that is hairier and smarter than your average bear.

My own phone screen lights up with a message from one such hirsute hottie. It’s a 32-year-old man from 3,000 miles away. He calls himself Entreflaneur. His interests include art, design, film, aimless wandering and compulsive list making. His photos include well-defined pecs. Have we got ourselves a winner?

I send out a woof before I can even open the message. ‘Can I see how hairy you are?’ asks the Amazonian demi-god. He unlocks his highly NSFW album, where each picture is an advanced Biology lesson.

I blink at my phone — is that the new ‘Hello! Nice to meet you?’

‘I don’t have any pictures,’ I ping back — the woof that I sent him two minutes ago, has probably strangled itself in embarrassment. He never texts back, leaving me to aimlessly wander by myself.

Which I do; out of the app, never to come back again.

When do you use it: Like I’ve said before, Scruff is the hairier, bearier alternative to Grindr, which means that the target audience is here for exactly the same reasons — pure uninhibited sex, 24/7 (so think of it as a convenience store for carnal pleasures, only here they don’t accept cash).

What I like about it: Are you a self-proclaimed pogonophile? Scruff takes the basic dating experience and tailors it to men of the older (and muscular) persuasion. So many sets of abs, so little time. Just make sure you hit them up before they hit someone else.

What I don’t like about it: Since everyone on Scruff has already crossed paths with you on Grindr, there’s a high chance you’ll be someone’s sloppy seconds.

And I don’t mean it in the good way.

Bonus feature: Scruff also offers an exclusive Match feature, which serves up, well, matches. But it only seems to pair people based on what they’re looking for — dates, relationships, fun — not deeper criteria, such as common interests or your (often conflicting) views on Donald Trump’s latest shenanigans.

Who is it for: If you are looking for a quick nookie with men who have some hair on their chest and dirt on their nails, Scruff (as the name rightly suggests) is perfect for you.

 

Guysexual’s Grade-o-meter:

Hookability: 7/10

Compatibility: 7/10

Usability: 8/10

Downloadability: 8/10

#GalentinesDay: 20 Women Tell Us Why They Love Their Gay Best Friend

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Valentine’s week is over, and if you are not sweeping the empty chocolate wrappers and confetti off the floor, you are probably dusting off the pieces of your lonely, broken heart (in which case you must go read the Guysexual’s guide to every heartbreaker in the world). What can I say; it’s a tough world.

If you are a single gay man such as myself, how do you find love? More importantly, how do you find love that cannot be bought in a bottle, or prescribed over-the-counter?

That’s where #GalentinesDay comes in — it celebrates the truest, most fairytale form of love there is — the love between a gay man and his girlfriend(s). After all, every one knows that the Girlfriend is the essential crown of every gay man’s crew, and the love they share is as real as Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker’s online feud. So why not celebrate that instead?

This Valentine’s Day, I decided to ask 20 different women what the gay men in their lives meant to them. The answers poured in through texts, emails and voice notes. One even sent a rap.

Here’s what the goddesses had to say:

 

Having a gay best friend has been one of the most empowering relationships I’ve ever had. Whether it’s been about shedding my insecurities, approvals I’ve needed for the length of my skirts or the boys that I date, or more importantly, conversations which have helped me decide which course I should study moving forward, the decisions made by my friend have always been spot on.

Just like him.

And when you’ve got razor sharp wit on a principled, loyal friend who’s always up for fun, who would want more?

PS: Did I mention he’s also handsome?

— Prakritee Yonzon, Law professor

What does having a gay man as your best friend do to your life?

Firstly, you get answers to ALL your homocurious questions (with the right amount of sass, of course). Plus, you get to have a partner-in-crime for all your voyeuristic ventures. Because, here’s the best thing about Galentine’s Day: with them, there’s no such thing as judging (or being judged). If THAT doesn’t make your life easier, there’s isn’t much scope for anything else to do so. Here, there’s never a monochrome scare; because having a gay best friend means having limitless colour in your life.

And we could all do with some colour in our life.

— Reema Mukherjee, journalist

One word.

Everything.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

— Richa Raut, architect

In a world where romantic love is celebrated and revered above all else, there exists this bond of platonic love between friends, which finds its best representation between a girl and her gay best friend!

He is the guy who gets rip roaring drunk with you at brunch, hits on the same boys as you do, encourages you to unleash your inner Goddess, and battles the hangover with you the very next day. He is the guy who is always a phone call away. He gives you pointers on sex. He tells you when you’re being a b*tch and when you’ve got to be a b*tch. He binge eats ice cream with you. He isn’t afraid to tell you the outfit makes you look fat/desperate/old. He sings along to Beyoncé with you. He lets you blast Adele when you need it. He reads the same books, and likes the same cocktails. He makes you laugh and he makes you shake your head with exasperation.

In short, he is the brother who is the soul sister you never knew you needed before you met him.  He makes you find space in your life for him because you’d be crazy not to want him around.  If I could sum up all of this in one sentence?

He is the realest and truest form of love.

— Ramya Dharmaraaj, lawyer

 Love is four-letter word that can be interpreted and used in so many different ways. But for me, each time someone says the word ‘love’, I can only picture a few people in front of my eyes.  My friend here is one of my lifelines.

I’ve had a number of straight guy friends and girlfriends but none can compare to this man. He comes up with unadulterated, impartial advice — something that you can trust even with seven blindfolds on. I bet God smiled when he made this beautiful human being and whispered chants as he poured in the purest of a soul into his ears. He made me believe in platonic love and having no expectations out of a bond. A bond of pure love, a friendship that comes with a smile each time he utters a word.  I am not exaggerating when I say that I’d trade all my straight friends for this one. As long as promises me that he’ll always be there.

Just like he always has been.

— Akriti Sheth, artist

The only thing that changed when I found out that my handsome friend was gay was the slightest crushing of my heart, and that’s only because it was unfair that I would never be able to date such an amazing soul.

It’s endearing to find someone who gets excited about my life more than I do — which is why I think he’s my official power source, on bad days and otherwise.

He lights me up. Pun intended.

— Komal Balani, brand strategist

Having a gay best friend is basically discovering a level of comfort you didn’t know could exist — they aren’t just the best fun you’ll ever have, they will be close to you in a way nobody else can even touch.

And that’s as uplifting as it can be.

— Saumyaa Vohra, editor

 I love my friend for his sass and honesty, and his unbridled positivity in life, a combination that most men lack — especially cute men such as him. Having him as a friend in my life is like a three-tier chocolate cake — because I’d never be able to have enough of him.

Only, his sexual orientation is the icing on top!

— Sakshi, photographer

First things first, I’m a realist. Ok Iggy Azalea song reference aside, I am a realist which means I know exactly how difficult it is to connect with somebody on multiple levels, and to always succeed in having a conversation where you feel an instant match of wavelength.

Thank the heavens I got that with my friend. We might not talk for weeks, but when we actually do, it’s like we never stopped. The best part is that our core beliefs and principles are the same. And our candour gets me, every time! Nothing is out-of-bounds for us; we can literally talk about everything outrageous under the sun without having to be politically correct with each other. From talking about all the boys who broke our hearts (because we have the same lives) to talking about pop culture references that broke the Internet (because we have the same tastes), it’s been one epic journey.

Someday we will travel the world together, living the good life and checking out cute guys but until then, I’ll just show him off to Mumbai as my hot and charming gay friend. Because #IGotMyOwn!

— Amrita Hom Ray, PR professional

Having a gay man as your best friend is nothing like the stereotypes that people talk about — instead, it gives you true perspective of how life can be the same and yet so different for the community.  It allows you to step back, and look at your own prejudices, your own self and your relationships — my friend here helps me become a better person and a better member of the community.

And that’s half the battle won.

— Devika Mehta, movement therapist 

I’ve known my GBF for all of three years, but it’s like they say — in true connections, the amount of time you’ve known each other is completely irrelevant. He has taken up so many roles in this timeline: confidante, bridesmaid, partner-in-crime, and a true inspiration in the way he lives his life!

His resilience, the character progress he’s shown, his utter and complete honesty are all things I value deeply. He’s never shied away from living his truth, which is a difficult thing to do for anybody, but probably more so for him. I know that we’ll continue to grow together as time goes by — as we already have — from being at constantly drunken social situations to sober-planning our future shenanigans!

— Zara Ahmed, psychologist

The best thing about having him as one of my best friends? Having someone who’s there to support and back me up no matter how ridiculous I’m being, and always having someone I can share my dreams and views of an idealistic future with — just because I know he wants the same things in life.

My life wouldn’t be half as awesome as it is without him, because he’s the Betty to my Veronica! The only difference?

We don’t have any Archie to fight over.

— Shivani Singh, B-school student

This is what I have to say to my friend: For all the laughter you bring to my life and for all the madness, I want to thank you for being you.

PS: Just know one thing, when the snow falls and the wind blows, I’ll never let you be that lone wolf.

— Madhuli Thakker, public health researcher

 Imagine befriending a man whose sole interest in you doesn’t depend on the size of your breasts or the width of your hips — that’s a gay best friend right there. As men, they are genuinely interested in YOU as a person and THAT makes all the difference.

Can you imagine getting that kind of attention from the opposite sex (without any expectations) and having fun at the same time?

That’s exactly how refreshing it is.

— Ankita Thadani, interior designer

 

Who doesn’t love a bundle of delight that’s always ready to give you advice from the male perspective? It’s the fun bit of mansplaining!

— Reema Paranjpey, student of health policy and administration

Having a gay friend opened up unheard of avenues in my life. I might have come from a background where the word ‘gay’ was taboo (and I blame society for that), but my friend sprung into my life, opening it up — and made me realise that no man can be a better friend than your gay best friend.

Especially one that makes you his priority.

— Shreea Kadam, film producer

 Look! Up in the sky!

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane!

It’s your Gay Best Friend!

That guy who’s still dancing when the party ends.

He never cans on spontaneous holiday plans,

But somehow has time for your failed romance!

With sassy comebacks and heartfelt words,

He knows just what to say when it hurts.

I’d exchange 10 girl friends for my GBF, honey,

Especially when this one’s worth more than all the money.

— Ila D’Cruz, architect and rapper

I can’t speak for all the ladies with gay besties, but mine sure does add a whole lot of sparkle (and glam) to my being. He’s got his cheeky comebacks down pat, death stares to kill and a sassy style to match. He’s got a way with words and a way with the world.

Yes, he might be really cool, but that’s not the only reason I love him. He’s there for me in times of need, is all ears when I talk about life and whine about love endlessly. And, most importantly, when my life feels grey and glum — he appears like a rainbow in the sky.

Here’s hoping that come rain or not, he’ll always be there to make my life more colourful.

— Namrata Kedar, fashion writer

I frankly don’t know how my life would be without him, because a life with a sassy partner/friend is just endless hours of laughs and eye rolls and more laughs (there’s a lot more, but I was told to keep it short).

A gay best friend might have started off as a season’s must-have accessory a few years ago, but now he’s so much more. Which is why I think that having a close gay friend is a perennial must-have/indispensable/can’t-do-without necessity of life.

I miss my GBM, now that we are in different countries. But our love and friendship is just as strong, if not stronger. After all, distance does make the heart grow fonder. Supporting his right to live and love is just about the basic most thing I or anyone could do for such a man (men) who does so much and brings so much warmth and radiance in my (our) life(s). Happy Galentine’s day to my GBM, who’s no longer just my gay best friend, he’s my family. For now and forever to come. I love you and I pray your light shines even brighter with the years to come.

— Shamika Haldipurkar, marketing executive

Having my best friend is undoubtedly the most ‘awesomesauce’ part of my life – I use this word only because it encapsulates our entire relationship. It’s that delightful.

There are times when we don’t talk or meet for days on end but when we finally do, it’s as if we never stopped. Every time we meet, I feel happier and lighter! I could go on and on, but that’ll never do him justice. I truly admire him, and wouldn’t want him to be any other way (i.e. straight).

— Sshruti Barrve, stylist

The Guysexual’s Guide To Every Heartbreaker In The World

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Sumit, an illustrator, met Zishaan, an interior designer, at a friend’s bring-a-single mixer.

It was a classic meet-cute.  A match made in architectural heaven, he would tell his kids one day. They had mistakenly picked up each other’s glasses (double vodka sodas with a hint of lime juice) and then bonded all night over their mutual love for the Big Little Lies Soundtrack. Before the party had ended, they had (consciously) picked up each other’s Instagram handles.

After a whirlwind first date at a local bistro, Zishaan had texted Sumit telling him that ‘he wanted to see him again. And again. And again’.

After the second — an indie movie at a derelict single-screen — he messaged with a stream of endearing heart emojis.

After the third, the designer made an in-joke about the chocolate chip sundaes they had just shared, just after he kissed him goodbye under the starry sky. He’d use that one in his wedding speech, Sumit had gushed to himself later that night.

Sumit had met a lot of men in his life: there was the It Boy he had spent months chasing (who dumped him for a socialite prince), the Gym Freak he had joined the gym with (who believed in free weights and free love), the Hipster he had gone vegan for (who sold him out for Alt-J’s concert tickets), the Sapiosexual who made him do crossword puzzles (and realised he was not as good), and lastly, the F**kboy who said he wanted to give Sumit all his love (but gave him genital crabs instead) — so many men, but none had felt the same way.

With his broad grin and broader shoulders, Sumit rightfully thought Zishaan was the One. He was charming, he was funny, he was full of those soul stirring words that made Sumit dream of Disney musicals. Plus, he didn’t have genital crabs.

But the one thing he was not?

Available.

Five dates in, Zishaan was always busy. He was always swamped with work. He was always attending a friend’s birthday. He was always a ‘let’s just chill next week?’ text away.

In retrospect, Zishaan was the quintessential heartbreaker — and like many others like him — he eventually pulled a Houdini, and disappeared without a trace from Sumit’s life. The Disney musical sadly couldn’t even make it to its second act.

Like Zishaan (and other self-diagnosed misunderstood men), the heartbreaker is the junk food of the dating pool — the Big Mac, the Whopper, the Crunch Taco Supreme — he’s good for a quick bite, but bad for your long-term health.

But can you really tell your Disney prince from the douchebag?

It’s simple. Wave away all that fairy dust, and scroll through this list before you start planning your tropical Bae-cation in Aruba: if the object of your affection checks five items on this list, he gets a yellow card; if he checks seven, he gets a red card, and if he gets more than 10, stop reading this list and send him a goodbye text right away.

Because there’s a chance he never will:

The heartbreaker wears his own line of perfume. It’s clean and invigorating, and has notes of cypress combined with hints of cardamom, cedar wood and a base of vetiver root, resulting in a blend that’s ‘comfortingly familiar and mature’.

He calls it Heartbreak, by ‘Me’.

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The heartbreaker will look at you endearingly, and tell you that ‘he’s never felt this way about anyone else before’.

He’s also said this to three other boys in the past week.

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The heartbreaker is quick to christen you with a pet name. It’s usually a variation of his favourite dessert.

It’s also usually a tactic because he doesn’t remember your name.

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The heartbreaker disables his read receipts on Whatsapp, because it’s so ‘exhausting’ to keep a tab on all the conversations.

But he mysteriously won’t reply to your messages on Facebook Messenger.

*

The heartbreaker flakes like he Instagrams.

Incessantly.

*

The heartbreaker is a seductive blend of witty one-liners, intuitive pop culture references, heartwarming texts and dimples that run deeper than the Marina Trench.

All four have high success rates.

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The Heartbreaker’s favourite adjective to describe himself is also his most-searched word on Google.

Misunderstood.

*

The heartbreaker has built his walls up so high, he’s thinking of selling them to Donald Trump.

He plans to do so at a profit.

*

Over bite-sized bits of cheese, he tells you all about his exes. Ishaan wanted to move in too early. Rohan would never stop calling. Ameya decided to tell his friends why they broke up. Atul begged to take him back by standing outside his apartment all night. Vaibhav called him a cheating scumbag. Anuj threatened to set his house on fire. Paarth asked his mom if she knew her son was a psycho. Ram stole his wallet. They were all so crazy.

He conveniently forgets to tell you their sides of the story.

*

The Heartbreaker calls himself a ‘lone wolf’. The Alpha of a one-man army. He never talks about his family, friends or anyone really significant, and seems committed to keeping it that way.

But yet, he’s always hanging out with them when you try making a plan.

*

As he hand feeds you breakfast one day, he’ll laugh and tell you how ‘everyone will warn you that he has a bad reputation’.

Only he’s not joking.

*

The heartbreaker doesn’t roll up his sleeves, because that’s where he ‘wears his heart.’

Only this time, he’s joking.

*

The heartbreaker only wants to ‘hang out’.

*

The heartbreaker leaves a breadcrumb trail of likes through three years’ worth of your Instagram pictures.

But he still won’t ask to follow you there.

*

You spend more time talking about the heartbreaker, than to him.

*

The heartbreaker doesn’t like to ‘plan’, he’d rather just ‘live’ the date.

In the confines of his living room, with pre-mixed cans of gin and tonic.

*

The heartbreaker flits through relationships like you flit through magazines at the dentist’s. In fact, he ended his last relationship just while you were ending your workout for the day.

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When he asks you to come over for some #NetflixAndChill, that’s all that he wants to do — binge-watch a Netflix original and chill with canapés and a bottle (or two) of expensive wine.

Bonus points if it’s a bottle of York Sparkling Cuvee Brut.

Even more bonus points if he makes the canapés himself.

*

The heartbreaker is too conflicted/ too damaged/ too busy to be ‘in a relationship’. He wears it like a badge nonetheless, and uses it to introduce himself at mixers.

It works like a charm, especially when he mistakes your vodka soda for his.

*

See, but that’s the thing about our guy. He’ll tell you he’s not a heartbreaker.

And that’s exactly what makes him one.

So pull out those Band-Aids. You’ll need one.