I forgot that there are many – but few of me. I’m not the only gay black male writer, but I am one of the few who are 30 (youngish), and sharing my experiences in spaces outside of gay media. It turns out that Places where black aunties and uncles primarily read ( EBONY , Essence ); sites my niece likely frequents more than I ( BET ); where straight men are ( Complex ); and sites that feel as white as that new gentrified coffee shop in Harlem with amazing vegan cookies ( Time ). Since I work from home, being clocked on a hook up app is my realization that people might actually read me.
So, one the one hand, it was flattering to be recognized and to be complimented about my work. On the other: That is not the point of a hook app up. Moreover, because I know there is a stigma attached to those who use these apps, I worried that being visible on Jack’d would eventually lead someone to question my character.
Not only did I carry with me the paranoia about what happens if you don’t have sex safely, I dragged along the notion that certain ways of getting off is worthy of shame
Two months later, I was told that someone screen capped a conversation I had on Jack’d with some other stranger that ended up in some Facebook group. I don’t know what the group is for; one presumes it’s for bitches that don’t know how to mind their own business.
I never asked what was said. I just immediately deleted the app. A month later I reinstalled it, then days later deleted it again. It’s been an on again, off again process ever since.
A lot of people have an attitude about apps. Others have told me that they wouldn’t dare use something like Jack’d. It seems seedy, desperate, lazy, or some other adjective that describes behavior one should be “above.”
So while I could talk about my sex life, or lack thereof, on an NPR program as I did last summer with Michele Martin , I was embarrassed when confronted about Jack’d. The stigmas attached stuck with me.
I remember a lot of gay men dissecting the Huffington Post essay “Why I’ve Given Up on Hooking Up,” in which writer Lester Brathwaite laments about how the apps invoke his insecurities about masculinity, femininity, body image, and a desire to “make real connections in the real world.” Brathwaite’s truth is his, japanese phone chat but my takeaway was that he’d come across those same issues on any social media platform and in the real time in “the real world.”
I’m not sure if the intent was to dissuade everyone else from hookup culture, but it was cited plenty by peers to make such a case.
Likewise, in an interview with Metro, Sam Smith argued that apps like Tinder and Grindr are “ruining romance,” explaining, “ We’re losing the art of conversation and being able to go and speak to people
This is British bullshit. The men I have dated are men I have approached. I know how to have a conversation and I know how to walk up to someone. Sometimes I just want to use technology for the sole sake of securing sloppy head from a stranger I don’t have to be bothered with ever again.
It’s the iPhone equivalent of the “Independent Women (Part II)” line: “Only ring your celly when I’m feeling lonely, when it’s all over, please get up and leave.”
Why should I feel about guilty about it? This question is something I had to finally confront. As a runaway Catholic , I often feel guilty about everything even when I shouldn’t. And as someone who was raised to keep everything private, public acknowledgement of such behavior sometimes feels more of a burden than it needs to.