Apps, Sites and Safe Spaces: The Best Ways to Meet Gay Men
Queer people are the earliest adopters of online dating apps and websites. The reason why? Well, dating apps and sites inform us of a potential mate’s sexual identity, which protects us from potential harm should we express interest in someone who may not share the same preference as we do.
We do have gay bars, of course, but if you’ve ever been to one, you know that they’re crowded with an indiscernible mix of gays, straights and very few people actually looking to date. Apps have followed in similar fashion, especially among gay men. This is totally fine, but looking for something long-term can be a downright dreadful search for you.
Research published in “Psychology & Sexuality” found that those seeking dates or relationships on gay apps report lower levels of satisfaction, self-esteem and higher levels of loneliness, whereas those who seek sexual partners were the opposite. With sex as their primary purpose, this shouldn’t come as a shock – only 20 percent of users are seeking a relationship. This leaves relatively no prominent apps for gay men who are looking to date (we had Chappy for a hot minute, but that’s gone now).
This research also found the frequency with which men logged onto the apps was associated with greater loneliness, reduced life satisfaction and a reduced sense of connection to the LGBTQ+ community, and frankly, that’s just not OK.
To help men seeking love over sex with other men, AskMen has sourced the best apps, websites and spaces for doing so.
Ways to Meet Men Outside of Bars
If sweaty circuit parties and crowded drag shows don’t spell romance for you, there are plenty of alternative ways to meet and connect with other queer hotties in the community. Give these following suggestions, offered by queer people who’ve met their partners this way, a try — we’ll await your wedding invitation in the mail.
Go to Gay-Hosted House Parties:
Besides an app, the best way to meet gay people is through other gay people. Instead of spending the night in with Ramen noodles and RuPaul, get dressed and go to that party. If hosted by a gay person, there’s a good chance you’re going to meet other gays.
Take Raf, 32, for example, who met his husband of four years while both were waiting to use the bathroom at a mutual friend’s party. “After we relieved ourselves, we spent the whole night talking and went on a date the next day,” he told AskMen. Not only can the host or friends help with introductions, a house party offers the kind of volume and atmosphere that encourages much more social interaction.
Join a Gay Sports League:
Dodgeball, basketball, rugby — the choice is yours. While gays and mainstream sports have not always been bedfellows, we’ve made a league of our own without judgement where queer people can meet, bond and be aggressive, b-e-aggressive. If nothing else, joining a sports team will open you up to an entirely new social circle, who can then introduce you to an even larger bevy of potential partners, and so on.
Volunteer at a Local LGBTQ+ Non-Profit:
Every major city boasts local LGBTQ non-profits, which are not only a great way to feed your soul and give back to the community, but introduces you to other queer people as well. There are many great non-profits for a number of worthwhile causes, so choose those you’re most passionate about, and do some good while meeting new people who share your same values.
Get Set Up by Friends
As previously mentioned, the best way to meet gay people is through other gay people – who knows your taste better than your friends?
“My boyfriend and I were set up on a blind date by two mutual friends of ours in Los Angeles,” says Trent, 22. “After our first coffee date, we knew we wanted to keep exploring the city together. Over a year later, we’re still together checking out the best coffee shops around the city!”
Friends are a free matchmaking service without filling out an hour’s worth of personal info. They know what you’re looking for (commitment, sex, dating, etc.), your type and will set you up with someone they’re close to, which means they probably aren’t going to murder you.
Attend a Fetish Convention
Another hurdle for gay people is positional preference. Questions about topping and bottoming can be very personal, but are much less taboo in sex positive spaces. Jasper, 30, met his partner at MAL.
“It’s more of a party, shopping and social vibe,” he says. “If you are a kinkster or want to be one/have relationships that involve kink, I would highly suggest it.”
Jasper is in a polyamorous relationship, and says attending fetish kink and poly conventions made it easier for him to find someone who’s also poly. Obviously, if you’re attending an event for a particular kink you enjoy, it’s a safe bet that others in attendance are into the same things sexually.
Join a Queer Facebook Group
However you identify on the queer scale with whatever interest, there is likely a Facebook group dedicated to it. Aaron, 34, was part of a Facebook group for bears in Atlanta, and the group always planned monthly outings to meet and socialize with one another. It was at these events that Aaron met his last two boyfriends – one at a “bear brunch” and the other at a group-sanctioned happy hour.
“Unfortunately that group doesn’t meet anymore,” he says. “But when I go to Atlanta, there is a bear dinner. Last time, there were 30 guys in attendance.”
Frequent Any Queer Space:
We live in a heteronormative world where society primarily caters to straight people. As a result, we’ve created our own spaces to socialize and learn about our city’s queer identity in our own ways. The more familiar you beome with your city’s queer community, the more events you will be aware of through social media or word of mouth. An example: Many cities host events for queer gamers to play video games together at a bar or coffee shop. How fun is that?
The Best Gay Dating Sites & Apps
Unfortunately, there really aren’t many online options available strictly for gay men wanting to date. However, mainstream dating apps and sites are beginning to offer more options for queer people … and it’s about damn time. Below are the dating sites and apps that we’d recommend you download if you’re looking to meet other men.
Unfortunately, Bumble’s dating app for gay men, Chappy, is no more. The app, which billed itself as “the space for gay connections,” will officially be donezo on February 28, 2020. In their farewell message, Chappy attests there is “already a huge community of gay men in Bumble looking for healthy, safe and respectful connections in love, work and life.” While your connections from Chappy will not be carried over, Chappy users who make the switch will get a free week of Bumble’s premium subscription when you register. Nevertheless, we should applaud and acknowledge Bumble for giving the gays a legitimate dating app. It’s not their fault it failed, it’s ours for not using it.
While primarily for the straights, Tinder has recently made significant progress in making their app more queer-friendly. In 2019, Tinder launched two new features, the first being “Orientation” which allows users to select their sexual orientation. While this took way too long, they almost make up for it by acknowledging that the options will “continue to evolve and change, just like sexuality.”
Their second feature is “Travel Alert,” which protects LGBTQ+ users when they enter any of the 70 countries that have laws criminalizing queer people. The feature will alert LGBTQ+ users when they open the app in one of these countries so they can avoid unknowingly placing themselves in danger. Progress: We love to see it.
Of the many mainstream platforms, OkCupid appears to have gone the furthest, offering 22 gender and 13 sexual orientation options to choose from, as well as creating a designated area for defining pronouns on your profile. Over the past year, 15 percent of new OkCupid users identified as LGBT and the app is happy to have us. They’ve included LGBTQIA-specific questions to their sign-up process, which have been a central part of the OKC experience. While there are many niche gay dating sites out there, they don’t host a fraction of the members (or standards) more mainstream sites do.
While we do caution against using Grindr for dating, it is the most widely used gay dating app on the planet – an online survey suggests ¾ of single gay men are on it. Basically, it makes this list because it casts the widest net and resources are scarce. No matter your opinion, Grindr is a pioneer in this space, being consistently clean and straightforward while using GPS to source nearby dates, hookups or friends. Grindr is free, but the premium feature, Grindr XTRA or Grindr Unlimited (which begins at $16.99 a month), allows you to see unlimited men in your area, and get more specific with your filter searches with no ad interference.
Scruff is second in command to Grindr. When it launched as an alternative to Grindr in 2010, they wanted to appeal to scruffier types, but now, the app hosts 15 million users worldwide and 31 percent of gay men use the app. While it’s trailing Grindr in popularity, it wins in overall user satisfaction. Like Grindr, Scruff uses geolocation to source profiles and is free to use, but its features are limited. Scruff PRO memberships range from $11.99 to $99.99. Something unique to Scruff? The app allows users to check out queer events in your area, which allows gay men to meet in safe spaces and connect in real life. Scruff was also the first to include options for members of the military and the transgender community.
Growlr is a more niche version of Scruff, primarily marketed toward bears and huskier, harrier men. The app, like Grindr and Scruff, uses geolocation technology to source potential mates for whatever type of connection you’re seeking. Currently, Growlr hosts a fraction of users that the other popular gay dating apps do, but that’s to be expected when you’re marketing to a fraction of the gay community. The app makes this list because it has big plans for the future, with hopes of introducing live-streaming capabilities and others separate from dating for entertainment.
Instagram and Twitter:
Not technically dating apps, but hear us out. On most social platforms, gays congregate, forming an allyship stronger than Michelle Obama’s arms, where we religiously like each other’s pictures, give compliments and otherwise share good vibes. In this type of environment, slipping into DMs is very common and sometimes encouraged. Also, these social platforms, unlike most dating apps, don’t filter users by gender or orientation, so you won’t be misgendered or be limited to seeing people we might be attracted to.
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