Grindr conducted its annual end of year survey of users in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia to find out what they thought were the biggest hits and misses of 2014 and also to make some predictions for the year ahead. See who app-happy men chose as gay icon of the year (for the second year in a row!) and who they think is the next celebrity to join our annual coming out list, AFTER THE JUMP...
In 2011 Ma Baoli left his job as a Chinese police officer after it was discovered that he was the creator and administrator of Danlan.org, a popular Chinese social network for gay men. Soon after resigning Baoli created Blued, a geo-location based mobile app similar to Grindr.
In the three years since Baoli launched Blued, the application’s userbase has expanded to over 15 million people. Unlike many of its predecessors, which the Chinese government has been known to proactively shut down, Blued has found an unlikely ally in governmental officials looking to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout the country.
In the early days of HIV/AIDS the virus was widely thought to be a larger problem for China’s rural population. In recent years, however, the rate of new infections is steadily rising within younger populations in more metropolitan areas.
“The proportion of young H.I.V./AIDS sufferers almost doubled between 2008 and 2012, and gay sex is considered a major reason for the increase,” Shang Hong, a researcher at the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said to Xinhua.
Reaching out China’s gay male population has proven to be difficult for the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Though consensual same-sex interactions were decriminalized in China in 1997, much of the country’s culture is still somewhat resistant to open frank discussions about LGBT public health when it comes to safer sex.
Blued’s parent company Blue City has proven to be an unlikely ally for the Chinese government in its efforts to increase HIV/AIDS awareness and offer HIV blood tests.
“None of our public awareness websites can receive such attention,” said Wu Zunyou, the director of the Chinese CDC, said at AIDS awareness gathering last week. “This is a very important channel to be able to spread information about AIDS prevention among the LGBT community."
GOP frontrunner Tom Cotton (R) is running a tight race with Mark Pryor (D) for one of Arkansas’s senatorial seats. Recent polls out of the University of Arkansas have Cotton leading Pryor by a margin of 49-36%. His lead is due in no small part to a recent endorsement from the NRA and maybe (just maybe) the set of ads the pro-gun organization ran for him on Grindr.
According to The Daily Beast, the NRA paid for a batch of banner ads featuring Cotton that popped up on the popular gay networking app. While Grindr is no stranger to featuring advertisements for a wide range of social causes, the platform has a policy against running political advertising provided by third-party networks.
“While we do have safeguards in place to monitor for ads on third-party networks, we do serve billions of ads on our network, so there is the occasional chance that ads like this may appear,” a Grindr representative explained to The Daily Beast. “In this instance, we’ve reached out to the third-party networks to have these ads removed.”
As word about the ads spread across the internet, the firm purportedly responsible for placing them and Grindr CEO Joel Simkhai denied any involvement or knowledge of the curious endorsement.
“We have no knowledge of the ad mentioned,” Simkhai told Buzzfeed. “We do not welcome the NRA to advertise with us.”
In related news, LGBT ally Zach Wahls was tipped by a friend this week that Iowa GOP Senate hopeful Joni Ernst was also running ads on the gay app.
MoMA featured Australian artist Adam Seymour is following in the footsteps of Grindr Illustrated, and painting a series of watercolors depicting Grindr profiles. Seymour’s been exploring the digital spaces around him since 2012, when he began painting the G-Force series. Unlike other artists' work in this space, which tend to exaggerate the inherently sexual aspects of Grindr, Seymour's paintings focus on the accidental humor and mundaneness that the platform sometimes creates.
“I began the project as I had become intrigued by the idea of our private worlds being made public through social media,” the artist told Buzzfeed in an interview. “We reveal our most wild, deviant, sexual, fantastical selves to the digital universe, for anyone to see, and yet, for some reason, maintain this subconscious expectation that only our desired audience will see it.”
Check out more of Adam Seymour's Grindr portraits AFTER THE JUMP...
Maybe it was a joke, or maybe Taylor Swift's success simply has no bounds. Whatever the case may be, Tumblr user 'ughstory' posted a screenshot (above) of his Grindr conversation-turned-album promotion for the young pop singer (with caption: "Honestly why am I single..."), and Taylor took notice.
Take 40 reports:
Once Taylor saw this, she reblogged the image and wrote "CANT (sic) STOP LAUGHING. I Will be applauding you for decades to come for this."
This story comes one day after Taylor went to #1 on iTunes in Canada after releasing 8 seconds of white noise.
Is this just the beginning of a new form of advertisement? Will Grindr be overrun with T-Swift fans? Only time will tell...
Dries Verhoeven, a gay Dutch artist, is making a public spectacle of himself in a busy Berlin intersection and angering quite a few Berliners in the process. His art project is called 'Wanna Play?' and he describes it, in part, like this:
The Dutch artist Dries Verhoeven is going on a search for answers, taking his own gayness as the starting point. For 15 days he is living in a glass space, visible to anyone who passes by. He is communicating with the outside world exclusively by means of Grindr and similar apps. The men that he meets online will be invited to join him to meet each other’s non-sexual needs. Anyone who downloads the dating app can see the profile shown here on his mobile phone. All photos will be represented without identifying marks. All chats will be rendered anonymous.
(read full 'about' page HERE)
Except that it has turned out to be not so anonymous for those who interact with Verhoeven, Same Same reports:
One particularly annoyed Grindr user wrote on Facebook that the artist had not mentioned to him that he was doing a project, and when he turned up to the square he was shocked to find his messages had been shown in public.
“Consider what it would feel like,” he wrote, “to walk into a public space looking for an address of a person you are meant to have a private encounter with, only to see your picture and your words projected onto a wall with a large group of people watching and reading, many of them pointing and laughing. People called my name!”
Another annoyed commenter added: “This is completely disgusting and not related to art at all.”
A third: “Your project is extremely exploitive and cynical, putting people’s privacy and safety at risk.”
Verhoeven's project seems to have sprung from an addiction to and subsequent dissatisfaction with the shallow social scene resulting from the rise of hook-up apps. He writes, on the project's "about" page:
I realized that many times it wasn’t sex that I was looking for, but more the affirmation that I got from the sex. The sounds of the various apps had the effect of a slap on the back, an incoming message meant interest. I felt like a teenager who needs the approval of his classmates and so conforms to their rules and their jargon. In less than half a year my texts had been reduced to simple headlines like “Hey there” and “Whats up?”, my photos did not show the man that I was, but rather a bad imitation of the typical torso photos.... The men that I met then were the trophies of my digital hunt. The more their outward appearance fit my ideal image, the higher their value in the imaginary ranking that I kept of them and of my own accomplishments. The sex was not the final goal, but it was a pleasant occupation while maintaining our Grindr market value. I felt like a superficial illustration of myself, a man that could fulfill many sexual fantasies, but who rarely went to the movies with a stranger. I hadn’t brought anyone home to the family for Christmas in years. Grindr kept me from dealing with my single life. A feeble surrogate, but good enough not to feel lonely. I decided to delete the various apps from my mobile phone.
Grindr objects to the project, and its spokesman told Same Same:
“While Grindr support the arts, what Dries Verhoeven is doing by luring Grindr users under false pretenses is entrapment. This is an invasion of user privacy and a potential safety issue. “We encourage other users to report his profile by using the ‘flag’ function on our app, so we can take action to ban the user. Together, we will work to keep these users out of our Grindr community.”
Verhoeven yesterday posted a response to the outrage on Facebook:
Today, he added: "Up for meeting up someone who questions my project in real life. I hope to meet on a non violent basis, in an approach to mutually understand each others point of view. (Things you post here are visible to the audience. Just consider if you are ok with that)"
The project is scheduled to continue for 11 more days. You can view a livestream of Verhoeven's "Box" HERE.
Watch an interview with him, AFTER THE JUMP...