A jungle out there: How lesbians and gays find love and dating
June 19, 2012 | 5:00 pm
(Updated: February 25, 2013 | 6:59 pm)
On a recent tour through the gallery of Grindr, a friend happened upon a particularly attractive torso: sloping obliques, tightly outlined abs, perky nipples, and an imposingly rigid chest that sported a deep-green dragon tattoo. Within half an hour, the two set out to meet at a local gay club.
For both, the excitement was palpable – peaking in a nervous sweat as they separately saddled up for rum-and-cokes at the bar. Until, that is, my friend actually eyed the guy and found out his Prince Charming-to-be was an underage waif of a high school student with a fake ID. Needless to say, his escape was awkward and painful, prompting him to delete Grindr as he walked back toward his apartment in disgust.
For many in Denver’s LGBT community, this is just another night in a turbulent life of dating.
It’s almost a given that the community relies on websites and phone apps for dating these days: They’re easy, they’re safe, and they’re ubiquitous. Plus, you can increase visibility by using multiple sites and applications.
For Daniel Gonzales, a Denver gay activist and local architect, there are a few sites that have suited him, and his interests, well. “I use Grindr and Adam4Adam mostly,” he said. “I try to maintain a respectable-looking profile on A4A, even though it’s generally seen as a hookup site. I’m also on OKCupid and have dabbled in Compatible Partners.”
To many in the community, sites and apps like Grindr, Adam4Adam, and Manhunt are useful only if you’re looking for a quick sexual release. For actual dating, sites like OKCupid push users a little bit further – moving beyond basic statistics and requiring responses to personality-based questions. What’s more, they shun naked or near-naked photos in favor of snapshots that share a little bit about who a person is and how folks spend their time.
“I’ve actually had a lot of dates from OKCupid,” Gonzales says. “The guys I meet are all super sweet, polite, and civil. And they know what it means to go on a date.”
One of the sites that helped bring the Denver gay community together – both through social networking and political education – was Connexion. Launched in 2003 by Tim Gill, Connexion was designed to be a safe haven for the gay community, where conversations could be enjoyed freely and relationships – both romantic and platonic – could grow.
Ladd Bosworth, one of the site’s primary administrators and marketing coordinators, says that Connexion offered Denver what no other site did. “It was an online activist community that offered a non-sexual alternative to the likes of Manhunt and Adam4Adam. Over time, we learned that other sites were handling the political activism better, so we shifted our focus to social networking. It’s what we were good at.”
There’s hardly anyone in the LGBT community who would deny that Connexion was the perfect avenue for networking. More than any other site, it offered genuine opportunities for personalities to shine and, from that, connections to be formed.
“For me, Connexion was always a great place to meet people through conversation and shared interests,” Bosworth said. “The fun part about it was that just about everyone in Denver was on there. If you went to a bar and met someone, you could go on Connexion later that night and find them. You could really learn about them in a safe space. It made things a lot easier than giving somebody your number and hoping they would call you.”