Internet dating has totally changed the way courtship and matchmaking occurs in our modern world – and no one feels the effects of that in quite the same way as gay people, for whom the internet opens up many opportunities that would otherwise not exist.
A Brief History of the Hookup
“Standard” courtship, according to the media at least, usually follows a pretty consistent script – you meet someone through some shared space or hobby, ask them out, and go from there. But historically, when outing yourself to the wrong cute guy could lead to dangerous consequences, the gay dating scene had to take an alternate route.
Enter the gay bath houses that flourished between the 1950s and 70s, and the gay bars and clubs that still do great business today. But in the 90s, the internet made it easier than ever to meet people with shared interests and arrange meet-ups, and the proliferation of chat rooms, forums, and instant messaging apps should come as no surprise to anyone. Grindr, Scruff, Jack’d and all the rest are just the newest in a long legacy of innovative ways to find a hook-up.
Grindr and its ilk are a little different from a dating site. They’re less about matchmaking and more about facilitating one-night-stands. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – but it can be risky.
In addition to the expected risks, including sexually transmitted infections, there’s also privacy concerns to consider. Here are some tips for playing it safe:
- Don’t give out personal information too soon. Arrange to meet up somewhere public, and do not divulge your home address. Avoid giving your social media profiles, phone number and other identifiable information that could later be used to stalk you. Use a prepaid, secondary phone for your dating apps so you don’t have to give out your real phone number.
- If you send pics, don’t make them identifiable. You never know where those photos might end up, and you don’t want to give them any material for extortion. You can show your face in other, less explicit photos.
- Be careful about sending pics at all. You don’t know who’s on the other side of the app; they may not be serious, or they may be underage and using the app illegally – which could get you in trouble.
- Before you meet someone, tell a close friend where you’re going and what time you plan to arrive. Be sure to let them know you arrived and got home OK afterward!
And, of course, be safe once you meet: Be careful with drugs or alcohol that could cloud your judgment; ask about STI status; and always use protection. If you have any reason to suspect that you may have been exposed to HIV, you can talk to your doctor about taking a post-exposure prevention drug within 72 hours after contact, just to be safe.