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These apps are playing host to conversations—silent and verbal, private and public—about what, exactly, the queer experience can entail.
They’re helping, in other words, make the connections so many queers have been yearning for all along.
The gay social-networking app Hornet, too, has been hosting live events.
Just this month, it put together a group of LGBTQ media gurus in New York for Loud & Proud, a sold-out panel discussion that centered around the importance of inclusion in a diversifying media world. Lots of queer men power up their gay app of choice when they go out or arrive in a new city in hopes of finding people who might be navigating similar life experiences.
The company also participated in a University of California, Los Angeles, study that showed using the app to push banner ads and notifications for free HIV home test kits was an effective way to reach high-risk populations.
It’s a fitting role for apps whose original purpose unquestionably (and unavoidably, given that stigma still forces many men into silence about their health status) contributes to sexually transmitted disease transmission.
For instance, one user might not know much about another offline, but he might know little things about him from having scrolled through his geotagged social media page.
CEO Joel Simkhai told in a recent interview that “millions of Grindr users [were] asking us to figure out what’s going on around them,” so the company decided to start curating culture-minded content.
While it’s still early days, the publication seems to represent an earnest effort to re-envision the Grindr brand. It’s published a buffet of articles, photography, and videos that cater to a variety of identities and interests.
Grindr, too, has been tapping its extensive user base for public health awareness campaigns.
In 2015, it conducted a survey with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and Centers for Disease Control to gauge its users’ awareness of Pr EP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a daily regimen that can protect users from contracting HIV.
The companies are activating their networks for political action, too.