There was a time when gay dating was an IRL affair, based around your local gay bar or well known cruising spot. Now, finding a guy usually means grabbing a phone and browsing your options.
While a lot of people decry the decline of gay bar culture, there’s no denying that dating apps are the most popular method of meeting people in 2018. With that in mind, here’s a run down of the most popular gay dating apps for queer men.
Grindr, you as the first ‘geosocial’ dating app (i.e. you can see who’s nearby), Grindr has grown to dominate both the actual market and the entire concept of gay hookup culture.
The general consensus is that Grindr is only for hookups, but this isn’t necessarily true. As is the case anywhere a lot of people gather, there’s something on Grindr for everyone – from one night stands and fuckbuddies to long term relationships.
That being said, if you’re looking for a brief encounter, Grindr will do the job, as it’s more of a free-for-all than some other apps with little restriction on who you can talk to. All you need to do to get started is sign up, set your preferences and scroll through guys close by. If you’re using the free version, be willing to suppress your rage at the incessant ads.
As is also the case with large gatherings of people, there’s a lot of bigotry and generally unacceptable behaviour on Grindr. A lot of this stems from the fact that users have license to be incredibly specific about their wants and desires, which apparently for some people means being specifically terrible.
Awful behaviour aside, there are a lot of pros to Grindr. Mainly, it has the most users. You can also be as anonymous as you want or as open as you’d like with your gender, preferred pronouns and status. People are also pretty trigger happy with pics, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Since a change at the top in 2016, Grindr has been on a one-app mission to be the centre of gay universe, with big events, an online magazine and a gay emoji keyboard. Basically, it isn’t going away anytime soon.
Scruff, as the name suggests, is the hairier, bearier alternative to Grindr. The age range of users skews a little older than its main rival, and they are more uniformly of the muscular persuasion.
Scruff has been on the scene almost as long as Grindr, so it’s also amassed a large user base. As with Grindr, the amount of users has diluted its USP, so it’s not exclusively ‘scruffy’ guys on there, just mainly, and still overwhelmingly masc.
If masculinity isn’t high on your list of priorities, I wouldn’t necessarily look here. Scruff is hookup oriented, but does have a ‘match’ function if you’re looking for dates.
Being slightly more niche appeal than Grindr, Scruff doesn’t have the same critical mass of users, nor the cultural clout. However, if you see the word Scruff and don’t immediately shout ‘Oh Scruff Pit Crew’ in your best Mama Ru nostringsattached voice, then why are we even doing this?
Having sponsored the Pit Crew in the sixth season of Rupaul’s Drag Race, Scruff secured its position in the psyches of gay men everywhere, and it’s worth checking it out for this alone.
As mentioned, when you get a lot of guys together, bigotry tends to rear its ugly head and send you unsolicited nudes. Jack’d presents itself as an alternative to the divisiveness of other gay dating apps, and there’s proportionally more POC on there.
It works in much the same way as Scruff or Grindr, but with some additional features like more photos and the ability to see who’s been looking at your profile. You should be able to find both hookups or relationships on Jack’d, but it is a little more NSA friendly.
Hornet’s USP seems to be ‘we do Grindr better than Grindr’. While Grindr’s functionality is notoriously clunky, Hornet works much better, with less intrusive ads, interesting side features like in-app articles and more photos. In practice though, you use Hornet much the same way as Grindr.
Hornet is pitched more towards being a community platform than just a gay dating app, and you’ve got the option to follow people for updates or see events and stories.
Community aspects aside, you’re more likely to find a one night stand on here than a husband. Hornet has been slowly beating out other apps worldwide through its news and content delivery, especially in Brazil, but has yet to dislodge Grindr and its other rivals from the top spot in the UK or US.
Chappy’s ‘USP’ is that you can slide a scale at the top of the app to select ‘Mr Right’, ‘Mr Right Now’ (clever) or ‘Mr Who Knows’ to find guys who are looking for the same. You can then swipe, Tinder style, through the filtered buffet. You have to log in through Facebook, so there’s much less room for anonymity.
Chappy is the brainchild of Made In Chelsea’s Ollie Locke, who was looking for something different from the other gay dating apps on the market. In reality, Chappy feels more like a ‘rich person decides to be entrepreneur’ kind of project, especially as most apps give you the ability to state exactly what you’re looking for, albeit in the much less fun form of ‘words’ rather than a sliding scale.
Regardless, Chappy has the backing of Bumble founder Whitney Wolf, it works pretty well and there are plenty of guys on there to swipe through. Unsurprisingly, you’ll find most of them on the ‘Mr Who Knows’ point of the scale.
And finally, Tinder. Whereas Tinder was once thought of as Grindr for straight people, the ability to set your preferences to find other gays has made Tinder an increasingly popular choice.
Gay Tinder is to straight Tinder what Gay Twitter is to regular Twitter, i.e. the same, but gayer! You log in, set your preferences, and then swipe your way through the oncoming onslaught of men.
Tinder’s default setting is straight (eye roll), so you have to change it to find your fellow gays. With the free version, you have a limited number of swipes per day and limited access to extra features like ‘Super Likes’ and ‘Boost’.
By its nature, Tinder is geared more towards dating than hookups, although that’s not to say you can’t find both. There’s lots of guys on the platform, so you’ve got good odds of finding someone.