Three weeks ago I did something I swore I’d never do: I got Grindr. For those of you unfamiliar with the hook up app, Grindr uses GPS technology to instantly connect you with guys in your area. And by instantly connect, I mean it tells you where the nearest gay, bi, or curious guy is and allows you to message them so that you can meet up and bang. Now it’s important to note that I downloaded this app more as a joke than anything else. I’m not sexually adventurous enough to meet up with guys after two minutes of talking with them nor do I have the sex drive to really want to. I downloaded the app more as an opportunity to troll and see the kind of messages I’d get and if I’d stumble upon any guys I knew. And for the most part I was disappointed. The majority of messages I got simply said “Hey” although the few unrequested dick pics did make me chuckle.  Occasionally I would chat with a gentleman who appeared friendly and attractive enough to make me consider grabbing drinks with them or hanging out. Unfortunately those conversations fizzled out once it became clear that I had no intention of hooking up or having sex with them at 4 in the morning.

Most of the people I showed Grindr to found the app to be insanely addictive and jumped at the opportunity to scroll through profiles and message guys on my behalf. There were a few, however, that cringed or rolled their eyes the moment I mentioned the app. And I knew exactly what they were thinking- “Connor’s become THAT gay.”  I’ve found that certain people have no problem with gay guys as long as they can pretend that we are sexless beings. To them, gays are just like the cute mogwai in the movie Gremlins. We’re fun shopping companions, adorably sassy and perfect compliment givers. We’re everything a girl would want in a friend- until we admit that we’re sexual beings who desire to get it on with the gentleman folk. It’s like the moment we admit we like penis that we somehow turn into this terrifying gremlin who is hellbent on boinking every guy in the club and spreading STIs like its an ice bucket challenge video.

I cannot fully blame the people who think this way. There is a belief, held by both straight people as well as members of the LGBTQ+ community, that gay sex is dangerous and risky. If a guy says that he’s slept with 15 different men, people automatically label him a slut or assume that he’s disease ridden. And this negative thinking has been internalized- at least by me. Part of the reason why I haven’t met up or really even considered hooking up is because of my fear and distrust of other gay men. I’m worried that a guy will have an STI, despite claiming he doesn’t, and that I will catch something. We’re automatically taught to expect the worst and by buying into this thought process it only gives straight people the motive to believe it as well. And while we’re on the subject- isn’t straight sex just as dangerous and risky? It’s not as if straight people are exempt from getting STI’s and their sex can end up in pregnancy so like…..yeah.

Straight guys don’t have this issue. A straight guy can sleep with as many girls as possible and at worst he’s called a man-whore, which is- let’s face it- a lot less hurtful than a woman being called a whore. In fact, promiscuity in men is for the most part encouraged and even supported by other men. So why is it that being sexually adventurous is such a terrible thing for women and gay men to be? Why must women be accused of having no morals and gay men be charged with having diseases? And what’s worse- why do women and gay men accuse each other of these things? It’s a lot like what Tina Fey says in Mean Girls: “You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores.”

When I first made a Grindr account, I did it as an opportunity to judge and mock the people who use it. And  I’m still not at the point where I want to use the site for anything other than conversation. But I’ve learned that how I feel about my sexuality shouldn’t dictate how I view other people’s sexuality. If someone wants to go out and have a ton of sex, that’s their prerogative. It doesn’t impact me whatsoever. As long as I’m safe and smart, nothing else really matters. And you know, even if did get an STI it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Most of them are easily treated, so I can’t let the fear of getting an STI and being labeled a whore stop me from engaging in intimate relationships if I so chose. And instead of us all judging each other for living our lives- maybe we should just focus our energies on the things that make us happy- like masturbating and eating obscene amounts of food.