Back in 2014, my first year at University, I made a friend –my first friend at Rhodes. At the time I didn’t know he was gay, and neither did he know that I was anything but a friend. He was a white man, with short, golden hair that wafted over to one side – kept so by gel. He wore glasses and was scrawny in stature. There was no attraction to each other whatsoever, but as our two bodies became comfortable in a foreign space lurking with millennials, we came into ourselves. As a result, we drifted into our respective degree-stipulated friend groups – aligning with people who shared our similar interests.
I soon came to find that he was in fact gay and that he utilised – and was successful in doing so – gay applications for meeting/hooking-up/ talking to other gay men. This freaked me out because I distinctly remember reading an article – I’m studying journalism. Sue me – about how a 54-year-old gay man in America planned a sexual escapade on the (in)famous gay social app Grindr, and was murdered by his 19-year-old pending sexual partner. Even though this story was etched in my mind, I wondered if I would still be able to follow through with this kind of lifestyle.
As a more experienced Queer man that I am now, I started contemplating whether or not I should attempt to find “love” online – because it clearly isn’t working for me in real time. What’s the first thing I do? Google “Gay dating apps for South African men”… I know you’re probably judging me, but you’ll be surprised to see how many I found. Here’s a list of the top 5 gay dating apps suitable for me – a man of colour, tall, chubby, with interests in all forms of the Arts, identifying as a cis-gendered, homoflexible male:
- GayXChange – the number one community for gay men now!
- E-Gay – South Africa’s leading gay dating website
- Chat27 – The gay South Africa chat room: a place to enjoy a chat, connect with mates, make new friends, air your views, have fun and more!
- Mingle2 – South Africa’s best 100% FREE gay dating site.
- BRO – an app for straight guys to hook up
(I’ve purposefully left out Grindr because, memories of that article)
I found a table in a journal article I stumbled upon when trying to dissect this matter, and what I found very interesting was the shift from traditional media (newspapers, television and radio) to new media (Blogs, groups on Social Media, and Apps). It was not a transition I was aware of. Despite the fact that it’s an American-based table, it’s still applicable to us for comparison etc.
Table 1 Media use by gay men
|Audience specifics||Traditional Media||New Media|
|Gay speciﬁc||Local newspapers (Gay City News); club rags (Next Magazine); Logo TV||SNSs (Manhunt, Adam4Adam, Grindr); news sites (Edge, Queerty); blogs (DListed, Towleroad)|
|General audience||Cable TV (Bravo, CNN); newspapers (NYT, WSJ); broadcast TV (ABC, NBC)||SNSs (Facebook, LInkedIn), news sites (NYT.com, Yahoo), blogs (TMZ)
(Taken from: There’s an App for that: The Uses and Gratiﬁcations of Online Social Networks for Gay Men by David Gudelunas)
Although it is still not something I would do, I see the importance of the shift to digital, as well as the need for these Apps. As many of them explicitly state that they’re there for socialising *Sips Tea*, It’s an imperative part in solidifying a sense unity within the LGBTQIA+ community and creating spaces for conversations and – if the need be – hook ups.