Henry Badenhorst, the co-founder of the groundbreaking social website Gaydar, has died in a suspected suicide after falling from a high-rise apartment building in South Africa.
In 1999, Badenhorst founded Gaydar with his partner Gary Frisch who died in 2007.
— Pharafina (@pharafina) November 12, 2017
The couple developed the website after a single gay friend complained about how hard it was to find a boyfriend on existing online dating sites.
I am deeply saddened to have to announce that Henry Badenhorst has died. He was one of the sweetest men you could ever know. He changed life for gay and bisexual men and will be greatly missed by all. https://t.co/8OaVOebsLN
— Patrick Strudwick (@PatrickStrud) November 12, 2017
Frisch also died after falling from a high-rise.
To Henry. The man who revolutionised gay dating. Our founder and our friend. Thank you for dreaming. You will be forever in our hearts. Gaydar xxx pic.twitter.com/16nhdpHW1v
— Gaydar (@Gaydar) November 12, 2017
Rob Curtis, the current managing director of Gaydar, told BuzzFeed News:
“Eighteen years ago, Henry and his partner Gary revolutionised the way that gay men meet, and in doing so created a safer environment for LGBT people everywhere. The Gaydar team is shocked and saddened to hear of Henry’s passing and send our sincerest sympathies to Henry’s friends and family.”
Although a few dating sites such as Gay.com had begun to capitalise on both the new opportunities the burgeoning internet offered and the need among gay and bisexual men to connect, Gaydar revolutionised the way it was done.
Badenhorst and Frisch introduced live chat rooms, sophisticated search facilities – including location searches enabling you to find the nearest gay men looking to meet – and perhaps most importantly, profile pages. These provided numerous photographic features and endless capacity for people to convey who they were, what they liked and what they were looking for. It changed everything.
Gaydar enabled gay men in the closet, in the countryside, in countries where it was illegal and in open, metropolitan environments alike to meet. It influenced a slew of copycat heterosexual sites, and paved the way for mobile phone dating apps such as Grindr, Scruff and Tinder that are today enjoyed by tens of millions.
At its peak, Gaydar had more than five million subscribers. In 2007, the Independent on Sunday named Badenhorst the fourth most influential LGBT person in Britain.
RELATED: In Defense Of Gaydar
However, critics argued that the site encouraged a “shopping list approach” to sex. Among a number of high profile tabloid exposes, MP Mark Oaten met a male prostitute and Boy George met the model he was later imprisoned for chaining up against his will.
Following Frisch’s death, Badenhorst launched Gaydar radio, Gaydar Girls, and the Lo-Profile bar. THe bar closed in 2013, shortly after Gaydar radio. Badenhorst sold the rest of the company later that year.
Badenhorst described the loss of Frisch as the worst day of his life and friends say he never fully recovered from it.