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CEO Joel Simkhai on How Grindr is Improving Gay Lives: AUDIO

Sirius radio host Michelangelo Signorile speaks with Grindr founder and CEO Joel Simkhai about the app, wondering how he responds to critics who say the gay dating app encourages superficiality and reduces gay men to physical ideals.

JoelSays Simkhai:

“Fanstastic! I love it. Absolutely. Look good. I’m very proud if Grindr has forced us to up our game. To brush our teeth. Comb our hair. Eat right. Go to the gym. Be a healthy person. Cut back on the smoking. Cut back on the bad things and look your best. We’re men. We visualize. We see before we hear, before we think, before we do anything else. That’s how we are. I haven’t changed that. That’s what our evolution has taught us to do. I certainly go to the gym more because of Grindr. I’m competing with the guy a space away from me on that grid.”

Simkhai also insists Grindr gives gay men hope in countries that criminalize homosexuality:

“Let’s take it to Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, and all these other countries where it’s literally illegal to be gay, where there are no gay bars,” he said. “Where you are not protected. Where you can literally go to jail for being who you are. Where you don’t even know what gay is. You know you have these feelings but there’s no one else around you who can explain those to you. Fortunately for those guys, Grindr is gay for them. That is all they understand. There is no place for them to go to other than Grindr.


More quotes from the interview including discussion of Simkhai's efforts to use the app as an activist tool over at HuffPost...

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  1. Sorry, but he makes it sound like Grindr is an incentive for self-improvement and international relations, but it's really just for hookups. Or am I missing something?

    Posted by: Jack M | Nov 26, 2013 2:56:18 PM

  2. What Grindr has done, in many ways, is highlight some things that have been going on in our communities for decades.

    A guy in my friend's building died recently and left more vintage porno magazines than I knew was humanly possible. In the back pages? those Ads.

    they're from the mid-70s: discreet. masculine. no blacks. no fems.

    oh..the progress we've made in 40 years! now we expose our societally-learned preferences on the Internet. :-)

    The app, like anything really, is what you make of it. I've made great friends from it. Fellow art-geeks who wanna blaze and get our Werner Herzog on. And it's really exposing the cultural prejudices against *ourselves* and others that have long lay rather dormant, or rather *hidden*.

    Is it "improving gay lives"? Um..... I'm not sure I can say it's improving "gay lives", specifically, as in a case by case basis how one treats the app, or allows their treatment/success *on* the app to affect how they feel about themselves, and others.

    see "douchebagsofgrindr" for the wealth of clueless internalized homophobia and racial/cultural bigotry that pops up in the guise of "mere preference".

    some people allow themselves to be reduced to a commodity with it, or to *feel* like they've been reduced to a commodity. others take the app and use it as they see fit - a way to connect with others, in any capacity of their choosing.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Nov 26, 2013 2:56:52 PM

  3. I don't like user interface as much as growlr or scruff. I travel a lot with work in US and have met friends that way. Better than criagslust because not everyone is looking just for hookups with phone apps.

    Posted by: stevetalbert | Nov 26, 2013 2:58:27 PM

  4. I think he's describing the way Russian youth are getting entrapped by gay bashers through social media. Really doesn't sound ideal for middle easterners.

    Posted by: Craig | Nov 26, 2013 2:58:36 PM

  5. The lack of attention span is due to age not app. I find it less superficial than a bar. At a bar its all your looks . With phone apps you have pics but also profile and chat. People can be more outgoing than in person with a stranger.

    Posted by: stevetalbert | Nov 26, 2013 3:02:33 PM

  6. Puhleeeze.

    Posted by: Leroy Laflamme | Nov 26, 2013 3:02:38 PM

  7. "I certainly go to the gym more because of Grindr. I’m competing with the guy a space away from me on that grid."

    Oh dear, this one has issues.

    Posted by: MARCUS BACHMANN | Nov 26, 2013 3:03:05 PM

  8. What a weird mishmash of misunderstood ideas we live by. Whatever it is that "taught" you to desire other men based on whether they go to the gym or get their teeth bonded, it certainly wasn't evolution, since that behavior cannot result in any offspring to perpetuate the trait.

    Posted by: Hank | Nov 26, 2013 3:06:23 PM

  9. Concur, Marcus. If you go to the gym more "because of Grindr" then congrats on allowing app-attention become a central focus, namely based purely on AESTHETICS.

    I've had Grindr for a few years, now. And I've not set foot in a gym since 2010. Why? My tastes in lifestyle and men have become more discerning, not more shallow.

    A "hot bod" on Grindr won't get a message from me, nor will a torso-pic with "hi. sup? hey. how goes? how r u?"

    for some, Grindr is about 'getting hot and attracting guys' - for any other Sapiosexuals out there, it's what you've written, the vibe you give off, and your ability to, you know, "communicate with people."

    Grindr hasn't made me go to the gym *at all* - it has, though, sort of reinforced my aversion to guys who think going to the gym is all they need to do to get a man.


    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Nov 26, 2013 3:08:13 PM

  10. Hey Grindr, why don't you start by improving your FUBAR app... then you can "improve" lives.

    Posted by: Lorem Ipsum | Nov 26, 2013 3:09:02 PM

  11. For anyone wondering what the Hebrew to the right means, it roughly translates to "live for the moment".

    Posted by: Jonathan | Nov 26, 2013 3:14:52 PM

  12. Grindr doesn't make me wanna go to the gym. It makes me wanna stay away from "dating" altogether. We really are becoming the superficial, sex-obsessed, muscle-worshipping fiends we're made out to be. I've had one night stands before... always after chatting face to face first. A guy's six pack doesn't make him sexy and endless selfies of him preening in the bathroom mirror is more likely to convince me that he's a vapid tw@t.

    Posted by: Jack Ford | Nov 26, 2013 3:15:32 PM

  13. Simkhai's deluded diatribe about how he's enhancing life for gays is pure rubbish. Grindr doesn't make anyone brush their teeth, though it may make them wax their chests. Also unclear is how this app translates into an improved society for anyone. The point that Grindr or similar apps are being used to ambush people in Russia appears utterly lost on him. More important to make a buck! Tool.

    Posted by: Platform51 | Nov 26, 2013 3:17:26 PM

  14. Of course he's going to defend the app. Lol! At it's inception Grindr was basically a mobile bathhouse littered with profile pics of headless torsos and genitalia until Apple Inc stepped in and banned nude pics.
    This guy is just the tech version of Michael Lucas--both of them very successful in exploiting gay men at their basest.

    Posted by: Charlie | Nov 26, 2013 3:18:45 PM

  15. Oh BOO HOO! Gay men decide if they are attracted to someone before approaching them for romance or sex. Welcome to the human race.

    Posted by: Joey Y | Nov 26, 2013 3:24:06 PM

  16. New Grindr profile: "Brushes teeth. Combs hair. Seeks same."

    Posted by: crispy | Nov 26, 2013 3:33:05 PM

  17. "discrete mascbijock for mascbrodudesstr8-acting no fems don't be an asian and have a face pic bfore you message me even though the only pic i have is of a part of my torso, at an oblique angle"

    yay! we're improving gay lives!

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Nov 26, 2013 3:36:17 PM

  18. "Simkhai" seems to be Yiddish for "vapid."

    Posted by: Vint | Nov 26, 2013 3:39:43 PM

  19. As the founder of GRINDR, Simkhai should know better than to have an incomplete profile. Include cock size for additional gym motivation.

    Posted by: Andy Towlette | Nov 26, 2013 3:48:46 PM

  20. Seriously, dude? Get over yourself - Grindr is a digital gloryhole, not Meals On Wheels or Habitat For Humanity.

    Posted by: FuryOfFirestorm | Nov 26, 2013 3:50:49 PM

  21. I'm really glad I read the comments today as I expected to read an army of sex app defenders. It's reassuring that there are other people who view this concept with disdain or reservation. The onset of hooking up almost exclusively in this manner has made being gay unappealing to me on levels I don't fully understand, and while immediate sexual gratification isn't necessarily characteristic of all gay men, it seems to be more and more the case. I struggle with heteronormativity, toxic shame and a legacy of poor relationship choices, but I am truly grateful to have an awareness of such aspects of myself and the culture I grew up in. The illusion that younger gay people have it easier (I'm in my late 30s, and so fortunately I no longer include myself in this category) is eventually going to become a recognized fallacy when people are no longer able to connect through spoken words and body language. The few younger gay men I am friends with have completely normalized cursing apps as a part of day to day life, and yet not one of them has ever had a meaningful relationship. Some even claim to not know what romantic love is. This isn't really shocking, and perhaps they are spared some other form of neurosis that I have not, but grindr and its competition have taken sex and a hope of companionship out of my life and left me feeling peripherally alienated from my community and saddened by the insecurities I have sunken back into in the worst form of arrested development that plagues gay men in general. I won't pretend to speak on behalf of other people, but thank you to those who shared their own perspective on this inevitable shift of culture.

    Posted by: Alex N | Nov 26, 2013 3:56:31 PM

  22. Alex, to paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt "grindr can't make you feel inferior without your permission"

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Nov 26, 2013 4:00:58 PM


    Posted by: Lorem Ipsum | Nov 26, 2013 4:11:07 PM

  24. Alex. Very nicely put. If this is the future of the gay "community", I just can't be bothered frankly. I'm not looking for a hook up or a relationship but if I were, god knows what I'd do... probably just wait for fate.

    @LittleKiwi I appreciate the sentiment but we all "let" ourselves be made to feel inferior at some point or another. Even when I was the hot young thing at 21 (just 10 years ago) the meat market clubs left me empty inside. This is the same thing but even more streamlined so guys can feel crap about themselves all day, every day.

    Posted by: Jack Ford | Nov 26, 2013 4:20:15 PM

  25. I wonder if he's ever been rejected for not being white and under 30

    Posted by: Dave | Nov 26, 2013 4:34:49 PM

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