Tag Archives: Queer Culture

72 Thoughts You Have While Attending A Pride March

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Mumbai celebrated its eleventh ever Pride March two days ago, and being the socially anxious (but also out-and-proud) queer man that I am, I had a lot of thoughts.

Want to know what being at the city’s biggest gay parade felt like? An overdose of rainbows and unicorns aside, here are 72 different thoughts I had while walking the (most fabulous) parade:

1. OMG! It’s Pride today!

2. Should I put on a face mask?

3. Where is my face mask?

4. Oh boy, what should I wear?

5. Is this too colourful?

6. Is this too black and white?

7. Does this look like I am trying too hard?

8. Does this look like I am not trying at all?

9. Where’s the flag I saved from last year?

10. Will they have new flags to give away today?

11. Why do I have to make so many decisions, oh no!

12. What if I run into someone I know?

13. What if I don’t run into anyone?

14. Will I look weird if I am alone?

15. What if people laugh at me?

16. Wait… what if they really, really don’t.

17. Okay, I am going.

18. Maybe I should have a Plan B?

19. I don’t even have a Plan A. LOL.

20. *heavy breathing exercises*

21. Well, here we are.

22. Why is it so crowded?

23. Is the whole world here? WOW!

24. Look at all these people!

25. Look at all these colours!

26. Look at all this joy!

27. Look at all this energy!

28. OMG! That poster is so cool!

29. OMG! That poster is so funny!

30. Whoa! Look at that outfit. #SLAY4LIFE

31. Damn. Did they see me look? Quick, turn around. Hide face!

32. Should I take a photo?

33. No. No photos without consent.

34. Wait, are they taking MY picture?

35. Should I ask them to delete it?

36. Wait, I look great anyway.

37. Okay, let me go ask them for a picture too.

38. Okay, the march is starting…

39. Nobody can rain on this parade!

40. OOOH, look! A rainbow!

41. Another one…

42. And another one!

43. AND ANOTHER ONE!

44. Okay, how many rainbows does it take to screw on a light bulb?

45. All of these, because they ‘light’ me up with joy LOL.

46. GOD I am so funny.

47. Okay, it was funny.

48. You can at least pretend to find it funny.

49. Whatevs.

50. HOT DAMN. SO. MUCH. COLOUR.

51. It’s wonderful to see so many people who are absolutely free!

52. Gaaaaah. I need to learn a lesson or two from them.

53. This is so heartwarming.

54. Why was I even unsure of coming here?

55. Can’t believe it’s been eleven years since the city had its first Pride March!

56. Go #PRIDE!

57. Maybe I should make a poster for next year?

58. Why don’t I have a slogan for today anyway?

59. My hands look awkward not holding anything.

60. OOH. Wait, I’ll just ask that girl over there if I can take her extra flag.

61. Okay. How do I ask?

62. Here goes.

63. Well… that was easy.

64. Okay, now I am good.

65. Where do I look? Where do I look? I DON’T WANT TO MISS ANYTHING!

66. There’s. So. Much. Love.

67. It’s true. Love is love is love is love is love is LOVE.

68. Am I crying? No, YOU are crying!

69. This is honestly so empowering, man.

70. Wait. Is it over already? We just started!

71. Where did all the time go?

72. Okay, why can’t every day be just like this?

#PrideGuide: How To Be a Better Ally in 2019

MUMBAI_PRIDEWALK2 copy

 

It’s time for the Mumbai Pride, people.

It’s going to be a celebration of queer culture, of colour, of everyone’s right to be (and more importantly, love). It’s going to be the biggest (queer) party of the year – think of an EDM festival without the claustrophobia and ear-deafening music. But only with lots of colour and joy.

While I might have already given you enough reasons to pull up your socks and walk the parade (irrespective of your sexuality), it’s important to know that just attending the Pride march doesn’t cut it anymore.

See, because Pride didn’t become an annual event just because queer people needed a party (but we do). It’s tied to a long history of struggle that shouldn’t be ignored, especially by queer allies and straight participants.

We march to protest against the rampant homophobia that still exists in our society. To celebrate our identity in a world that always discourages us from doing so. And obviously, people who don’t identify as a part of the community are the (root) cause of the struggle. No offence.

Of course, straight people can – and must – attend the march to show their solidarity. But there are some things heterosexuals need to think about when joining us in celebration, especially when the celebration isn’t about them. Remember, you are coming to an LGBTQIA+ event as a guest, and it’s something you need to be cognizant of.

But this is where I come in. Hold on to your rainbow socks and glitter shoes, because I am more than happy to help. Want to know more?

Without much further ado, here are six ways to be a better straight ally at Pride this year:

Do: Go in judgment free

You may see some things you’re not expecting at Pride. There are going to be men in drag. Women in suits. Boys wearing corsets. Guys wearing fishnet stockings. Dudes in leather. Dudes without. Guys in their finest jewellery. Ladies in their finest mohawks. But no matter what you see, keep your opinions to yourself. At Pride, let queer people express themselves as they want. The best versions of themselves.

Don’t: Stare at people

You don’t like it, and neither do we. It’s not a zoo, people. We aren’t here for your entertainment. It’s really that simple.

Do: Understand your privilege

Even if you’re the ally of the year, you’re entering Pride with a lot of privilege. The privilege of being straight, which automatically, according to a large part of the Indian populace, makes you ‘normal’. Understand that, but more importantly, understand that Pride is a LGBTQIA+ safe space, and you need to keep it that way. So walk out and proud, but know that the queers need to be in the limelight here more than you do.

Don’t: Take pictures of people without consent

Do we need to give you another lesson on consent? Especially when people’s personal and professional lives are at stake? Find someone interesting and want to take a picture? Just ask. If they refuse, walk away like a nice human being.

No pictures without permission. Now repeat it with me till it becomes a part of you.

Do: Enjoy it, but know that it’s not only about you

Loved the colours? The joy? The display of fabulousness? Great, now you also need to love the fact that at pride, ‘it’s queer first, you later’. Like I said many times before, it’s really not about you.

Side note: The A in the LGBTQIA+ doesn’t stand for Ally, it stands for Asexual and Aromantic — grossly misrepresented, but needing their space in the spectrum more than anyone else (especially you, straight cis folk).

Don’t: Assume people’s identities

No matter how people present themselves at Pride, it’s important not to make assumptions. There’s no better place than Pride to start asking for the pronouns of the people you meet, and to go neutral with the pronouns of people you don’t. Be mindful of the words you use, and the way you use them. Always ask, instead of assuming.

See, going into Pride as an ally might seem intimidating (and I am really sorry if I made it seem so), but it’s really not. Keep this list of do’s and don’ts in mind, and you’ll be more than welcome to walk (fabulously) with us. We’ll even take a group picture!

#PrideTalk: 37 People Tell Us What #Pride Means To Them In A Post Section 377 World

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We’ve come full circle, boys and girls.

In less than a week, the city walks its eleventh ever Pride March – which means, the city’s (and the country’s) gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brethren will take to the streets to walk for freedom, for love, and for everything in between.

This year is a monumental one as it marks the city’s first ever Pride March after the Supreme Court’s decision to read down parts of Section 377, thus making same-sex relationships legal (and the world a happy place again)!

Which is why, to honour the day and prove how important the cause is, I asked 37 queer folks what #Pride means to them in this (ever-so-slightly) progressive world. Our relationships may be legal on this bright(er) day, but we still have miles to go before we get the rights we deserve: workplace equality, the right to marry, anti-discrimination laws. The list goes on, but the questions don’t.

I asked, and the answers poured in from everywhere. Here’s what they all had to say:

Finally being and cherishing who I am and not giving a damn about what the neighborhood aunties will think.
Arnav, poet

Not having to assure people that you like ‘girls and boys’.
Harikesh, legal consultant

Being able to express myself the way I really want to. As the best (and truest) version of myself.
Kartik, copywriter

Stop trying to obsessively define queerness. Be inclusive. Be loving. Be kind. Be cool.
Mahima, writer

In fact, it shouldn’t need a definition. I don’t need to explain what, why or who. Straight people don’t come out or give explanations, so why should we?
Thangsing, blogger

Self-acceptance. As a biromantic homosexual, it took me 17 years to accept who I really am.
Arunava, chef

Not making a conscious effort to hide my sexuality.
Saumya, student

Feeling brave enough to wear makeup and heels as a cis man.
Harshvir, daytime diva

Pride means, to be you.
Harsh, poet

Not feeling guilty for loving or wanting what your heart truly desires.
Tanvi, team leader

Joy.
Arzoo, illustrator

As a bisexual woman, I want reactions to be ‘OMG tell us about her!’ instead of ‘Oh, so are you gay now?’
Diya, Netflix addict

Being as proud of your crush as your straight friends are of their’s.
Ronak, marketing intern

Breathing freely.
Ananya, student

The strength to come out to my parents.
Soham, not disclosed

Being able to take all the negativity that has been thrown my way, and make it my personal strength.
Arjun, MBA student

Companies capitalising on a social movement.
Alankrita, HR professional

It’s plain, pure joy. The joy of homonormalisation!
Tushar, baker

Professing my love without the fear of trolling.
Pokhraj, student

People not saying things like ‘I’m okay with queers as long as they are not affectionate in public.’
Hiranmayi, Tumblr connoisseur

It’s all about being someone you’re proud to be and not ashamed to accept.
Anukul, management trainee

A sense of knowing and appreciating who you really are.
Iti, architect

Finding love and the strength to finally come out to my parents.
Dirk, entrepreneur

Educating others about the LGBTQIA+ community and not feeling uncomfortable because of it.
Prajwal, fashion student

The right to just be. To be treated without prejudice or discrimination, just as an equal.
Chittajit, science enthusiast

A colourful world.
Eklavya, college student

Focusing on the rights and freedom of the lesser-known members of the queer spectrum.
Rakesh, chemical engineer

Pride still means the same, pre or post Section 377: Be yourself unapologetically.
Paartho, columnist

Freedom.
Abhilash, consultant

The granting of civil liberties and marriage rights.
Kavita, panel moderator

Finally owning that runway walk I pretend to do on the streets — fierce and liberated.
Shethin, lawyer

Developing positive self-statements.
Naveed, writer

Greater responsibility to ensure some real change happens in the society.
Indrajeet, queer rights activist

Loving myself first.
Hruday, actor

To be more positive towards my sexual orientation and fellow 250 million queer folks around the world.
Rashi, chartered accountant

Breaking stereotypes, and making straight people realise the different shades of the queer spectrum.
Lokesh, researcher.

Being ‘normal’.
Rishabh, graphic designer

The Queer Guy’s Guide To New Year Resolutions for 2019

2019_resolutions.

 

2018 came to an end, and so did my dreams of ever finding a happy ending.

As I pretend that my seventh glass of champagne is only my second, it’s time for me to ask those questions all over again – what do I remember 2018 by? The number of boys I ghosted? The number of boys who broke my heart? The bad decisions I woke up to (and with)? The bottles of prescription drugs I wolfed down? The shots I downed to forget? The hangovers I’ll never be able to forget? The hours I spent at therapy after? The resolutions I vowed to make? The resolutions I’ll effectively break?

As gay men (such as myself) parade into the new year making resolutions (and asking questions) that we’ll only give up on a week later, here are a few that I hope that don’t get lost in the sea of confetti, cheap champagne and regrets.

Want to know what they are? Simply slide into 2019 with this queer guy’s guide to NYE resolutions (but not like those ugly dick pics that slide into your Instagram DMs):

Ditch the dating apps, but don’t ditch out on the dates

There really is a high chance you’ll find the next big love of your life at the bookstore, or your favourite neighborhood bar (and we won’t judge you even if it happens at the gym.).

Then again, don’t lie about your age, height or weight on your online dating profile

72 kilograms are sexy, and so are you.

Don’t dismiss someone who’s considerably older or younger than you are

But make sure he’s legal.

Put an end to the ‘New Year, new me’

You’ll always be you. If people could change overnight, we would never have so many seasons worth of great television.

Be a nicer person. If you can’t, try till you succeed

Gay men have the potential to be a lot of things – charming, well-dressed, effortless, established, articulate, artistic or even high on drugs. But still, a lot of us choose to be d**chebags.

Take an active interest in politics

Because some of these decisions actually prevent gay men and women from receiving equal rights, which is just plain sad.

Let your biggest regret this year be not eating that last cupcake

But you should go ahead and eat it anyway.

Stop answering texts from the ex

There’s a word for it. It’s called ghosting.

Read more, but don’t read more into what other people said to you

Books are sexy and mysterious, just like the hot guy who makes eye contact with you at the bar (and then disappears forever). Reading online lists doesn’t count though, unless you are reading this one.

Do something that frightens you, not someone who frightens you

The list can include learning how to tap dance, skydiving and eating alone at a restaurant. Things the list should not include? Having unprotected sex with a complete stranger.

Exercise for health, not your crush’s phone number

If you want those six pack abs that you can eat sushi off, make sure you are doing it for yourself (Side note: even though eating sushi off your stomach can be quite unsettling).

Be okay with being single

There’s always 2019. And 2020. And 2021. And 2022. And so on.

Understand that brands don’t make the man, manners do

Very few men who have the latest Louis Vuitton bag will want to hear about your day at work.

Don’t be afraid to end a relationship that’s not going anywhere

Especially when the only place it’s going is downhill, with prescription bills.

Actually enjoy experiences, instead of just Instagram-ing them

And if the ratatouille doesn’t look as good as it does under the Aden filter, don’t eat it.

Tell the next boy you like how you really feel about him

The world would have more romances if less people were scared of sending two text messages in a row.

And if he doesn’t feel about you the same way, respect his choices

Because, boys and men, consent really is key.

Stop all the self-hating

If there’s one thing that I love more than money, it’s myself.

Be happier

Go on, you deserve it.

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

Happn_guysexual (1)

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