What Grindr Taught Me About Being A Man

dating for introverts-by UrbaneWomenMag-flickrEven in the most unlikely of places, Trevor Ellestad was able to learn what it means to be a truly authentic and loving human being.

Really, we are not obligated to feel anything when we interact with another human. We tend to hope for the best and with our guards in various stages of install, we then plunge or tiptoe into new depths.

Personally, I am addicted to the absence of conflict and the approval of others, and saying no can feel almost impossible at times. Strangely, when meeting men, this is especially true. Whether I’m newly crushing or doing the full-blown relationship, my need to be seen as the “good guy” often trumps my desire for independence, my sense of self-worth, or at times even, the truth.

I have created for myself a journey of a long line of relationships consisting not only of the ups and downs of the modern consensually sexual tryst, but also of my persistence in being, quite frankly, totally fucked up.

And then the story takes a sudden twist: the 21st century rolls around, and with it, its technological advancements. Shy gay men the world over rejoice as apps like Grindr, Scruff and Hornet become the norm, and unlock at their fingertips, a tempting buffet of men. Each of us, in this new century, the shy and the bold, became even more obnoxiously familiar with the sending and receiving of lewd requests for our deepest darkest desires, all wrapped up in a graphic symphony of self-indulgent photographic invitation.

We needed to prove to the world that Facebook and Twitter weren’t enough for us. We found new ways to pass the time on awkwardly crowded buses and during long, repetitive, empty afternoons in our offices. We were the first generation, self-indulgently dishing up our well-rehearsed selfies, our twitching groins and our fully matured fetishes, online. And just as the straight world seemed to come to grips with the prospect of finding love in places like match.com and eharmony, the gay community became all too familiar with love stories that began with expletives and cock shots.

In 2012, after ending a relationship that dragged on for far too long, I became an initiate in this world. I was late to the party, but filled with intrigue as to the homosexual smorgasbord that I would soon be able to indulge in. But just as quickly as I started downloading and chatting, feeling inflated by the praise of my genetics by others, the unconscious guilt would inevitably set in. A conversation with someone would begin and before I could so much as reply, I would be offered all of someone. I felt immediately empty.

Could it really be this easy?

Was I the only one aware of the parts of all these interactions that seemed to be missing, or perhaps should have been missing?

And what if I did meet someone and it became more than a hookup, more than just a date? What then? Would we always giggle when someone asked us where we met and tell them that the magic began in some modern mail-order-catalogue? Would we stand proudly on the dais on our wedding day and profess our love story to our dearest family and friends with the same heart-warming humor and humility that generations who came before us had? Would we joke with confidence about the dick pics and the dirty conversations that somehow turned into slow Sunday morning walks and adopted children?

And why did it even matter, right? Why did it seem like I was the only one who even baulked at all this? Love is love. Humans have been meeting, greeting, grinding and hooking up in dark, sweaty places for years.  Clearly, love stories didn’t always need a romantic beginning to have a happy ending. Still, something wasn’t adding up. Something was definitely missing for me.

These were new worlds without the lingering eye contact across a room. No nerves, no trepidation, no sweaty palms, no grumbling tummy. These were the places where those of us who wanted more than a ten word conversation before jumping into bed with someone, were often looked down upon.

These forums had been shaped and figured by the elite and the alpha man. The confident and the unbashful, the muscular and fierce, the testosterone-ridden and the risk taking. All of them set on taking charge and shaping the culture of this world that would be inhabited by all of us, even the more modest and sentimental. Technology replicating life once again.

I’m no angel. I’ve sent my share of skin across the wire. I’ve followed a new address and taken my clothes off … And then I’ve retracted it all from my life, again and again and again. I’ve considered my body issues being the cause of me being a kind of frigid gentleman, or perhaps it’s just a traditional sentimentality toward a sexual relationship with another human being that keeps me modest. At times, I’ve wished I could change, just please the masses and get down on my knees. But I just can’t.

I uninstall.

I delete.

I clear my life’s cache and it all goes quiet.

Because this isn’t an issue of technology or anthropology for me. I haven’t written this as a plea for the heartfelt evolution of the modern gay man to return to some non-existent sentimentality. No judgement. No brainwashing.

This is forgiveness for wanting to change for someone else. This is forgiveness for wanting them to change for me. This is forgiveness for trying to please others, no matter their request and this is forgiveness for sacrificing myself because of it.

This is me moving on—an uncompromising promise to myself to just be me.

Online and Offline.

Photo: UrbaneWomenMag/Flickr

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About Trevor Ellestad

Trevor Ellestad keeps a tidy home and spends his time Online Marketing in Vancouver, BC. Trevor also likes to surround himself with plants and obsess over the seemingly simple lives of cats and robots. You can follow him on Twitter @trevorellestad.

Comments

  1. Nathan Hudon says:

    This speaks to my own experience… With Grindr. However, I’ve had a completely different experience on the ‘other’ gay app, scruff. I’m not sure if it allures a different kind of crowd, the general demographic difference creating s different environment, or if it’s the app’s richer profiles that allows for more voice initially… Whatever it is, scruff has been a wealth for dating & creating friendships. And among my gay circles, anyway, I never feel shame admitting that I met so-and-so of scruff, it seems somehow more socially acceptable. Grindr automatically conjures images of hookup-made-friendship.

    • Nathan!

      Thanks. I really appreciate it. I’ve wondered about that before — sub-cultures within the whole environment. I’m working through the shame for sure, and just realizing that this is a big part of our world now.

  2. Trevor, this is quite possibly one of the most beautifully written things I’ve read in a long while. Relatable despite the fact that I am neither gay nor male. Heartwarming. I think a lot of us have felt that way in one situation or another. Something’s off. I don’t quite fit. Is it just me?

    Your conclusion speaks of concepts we all need to find within ourselves. Forgiveness, and acceptance.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    • Rei,
      Thanks. I think there’s something in these thoughts hat many of us are able to relate to. I am so very very glad that you were able to find something in here of value to you. I think if we could all be a little more authentic and honest with ourselves, the world would surely be a better place.
      I hope everything in your world is wonderful!

  3. Michael Croteau says:

    Thank you for verbalizing something I’ve felt for a very long time.

    • Your welcome Michael,
      The best part about expressing these thoughts has been realizing how many of us share these feelings and don’t necessarily talk about them.

  4. Absolutely amazing.

  5. Great piece! While I think apps like this are great for those who are not out, shy or live in places where it’s not as socially acceptable to be homosexual, I do agree that men tend to act before they feel. It’s refreshing to know I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Thank you for writing this piece.

    • You raise a really good point, TMac. Its often easy to forget that being open is not always an option. Thanks for bringing this up :) And much gratitude for the kind words.

  6. i’ve written that exact same article in my head many times.. but never quite so perfectly. Well done!!

    • Stephen,
      I’ve realized that many of us have written it in our heads many times. That has been a wonderful gift indeed. Thanks for your kind words!

  7. Kalo Belcham says:

    Great article Trevor ! Thought I was alone on my own island, till I read this.

    • It seems that none of us are ever completely alone. This has certainly been a learning experience for me too, as I connect with so many other people who feel the same way.

  8. Trevor, thank you for sharing this — there is so much truth in it. I’ve always felt a little bit like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole, even before the advent of all of these location based apps. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one out there, especially if being square is the authentic me.

    • Randy,

      Since writing this I’ve discovered many square pegs! It’s definitely nice to know that we are in good company :) There’s hope for us! Haha.

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