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No Strings Attached

Grindr Tinder no strings attached gay sex dating

Are Grindr and Tinder ruining good sex and preventing gay men from meaningful relationships? 

Online dating has transformed romance into yet another product of the digital age in which we live. Just like ordering a pizza or looking for shoes to match the season, people can now find a customizable lover through online dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, and Bumble. These quick taps on our phone screens have created a new etiquette in dating where the individual connection has been replaced with a single swipe to the right and a nonchalant “what’s up” sort of intro. With instant connections on the rise, it seems as though the lengths of traditional relationships have shortened, as well. With many people bypassing the work of a relationship, they’ve now sped straight into an expedited sexual connection. This creates different types of connections that occur within this new era of social media speed-dating, whether people are out looking for Mr. Right, Mr. Free Booze, or Mr. Right Now. The latter has become the most common, due to our newly-adopted, quick, digital attention span. Hook-up culture has made it possible for people who are only exclusively looking for no strings attached sex to enjoy sexual satisfaction without the connection of another human being’s emotional attachment. As the idea of monogamy dies away, this placeholder has become a common trend. Soon, will everyone be left single? Is it possible that these unemotional and pure lustful relations could be deteriorating the traditional relationship titles of boyfriend, husband, wife, girlfriend?

Grindr is one of the largest hook-up apps. Most of these hookups are strictly “no strings attached.” User’s profiles can be straight to the point, announcing that they are looking for a right now rendezvous. Terms like hosting, travel, DDF, blow-n-go, and many others have generated a brand new language in gay dating. It breeds an aberrance not before experienced in dating: people giving out their addresses, sending genital photos, and looking for gratification without attachment. Instant connections are something that our current generation of gay men use as a means of courting. Yet, no matter how much of a connection there may be through our cell phones or online, is it as good as meeting someone new in person? With marriage equality being only a few years old, the definitions of gay relationships are just being reconstructed as society is now accepting them, especially as we enter a renaissance of relationship titles and gender roles.

Furthering this hindrance in our community is the unveiling of racism in online dating. Pride parades give the illusion that gay culture is open and inclusive. Yet profiles on Grindr show a population of those who maintain prejudices and subdued racism. Profiles which identify as discreet want to make a connection, but would rather nobody know of their orientation. Chappy, which fancies itself the “anti-Grindr,” introduces profiles that are combative of prejudicial taglines: masc only, no fats, no femmes, no [insert various racial prejudices]—which has the least to do with human connection—and rather allows users to only seek sex. Is this our old-world, subliminal heteronormative thinking? Are we still existing under the subconscious belief that homosexuality shouldn’t be placed on display in a heterosexual world? There are many reasons men want to remain discreet while looking for sex, such as the thrill of anonymity, being married or in the closet, or perhaps coming from a culture where homosexuality is still looked down upon. Perhaps being gay still is still not completely normalized, and these individuals do not feel comfortable showing their sexuality as a relationship to society. It extends beyond aps, though. Some married gay couples still remain in the closet. As much as being gay no longer seems to be a big deal, Main Street USA would still be uncomfortable with two guys holding hands or showing affection in the public, as has been made clear by the uprising in disapproving opinions during the current presidential administration. Gay stigmatization still exists, even in the dawning of 2018.

This type of atmosphere is inducing a population of men who are seeking male sexual attractions, but removing it from the forefront of a greater portrait, keeping everything out of society and into the bedroom. The down-low Casanovas typically are looking for someone who is masculine and doesn’t fit the stereotype of gay identification. But there are many people who find these kinds of interactions to be a fantasywanting to meet an individual for anonymous sex where  identity plays no importance, often even when one of the individuals is found in a scandalous situation like being blindfolded, handcuffed, face-down on the bed without ever looking up, etc. Conversely, it would seem that the act of no strings attached encounters provides an easy way to bypass societal stigmatization while being able to fulfill sexual gratification. But there are many people who find these kinds of interactions to be a fantasywanting to meet an individual for anonymous sex where  identity plays no importance, often even when one of the individuals is found in a scandalous situation like being blindfolded, handcuffed, face-down on the bed without ever looking up, etc. When a person has multiple partners without an emotional attachment, most bypass safety screening and are open to believe a person’s status for only knowing them within minutes, jaded by their own lustful desire. This alone begets sexual irresponsibility, especially when people fail to disclose their status with disease, drug use, and preventative drug use (i.e. PrEP).

Yet, unprotected sex is on the rise. And with that, these factors make such preventions even more necessary.  Taking the precaution allows a person to feel safe, even when taken without the availability of a condom., Still, PrEP is only used to deter HIV, and leaves gay men open for other diseases. Other health risks are involved with attachment-free sex. For instance, online dating now serves as a digital bathhouse, connecting men who are only looking for no strings attached sex. Like bathhouses online hookup apps help users who are seeking anonymous sex with more than one person to frequent, perhaps to fulfill some form of fantasy. These environments are often free of supervision or provide little only for the purposes of preventing drug use. Therefore, they serve as a breeding ground to spread virus and disease for individuals who do not use protection. Which the president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Michael Weinstein has noted “Because these are closed pools of people in limited geographies [using dating apps], it means that infections can spread more easily.”

Hopefully, as society continues to wrap its hivemind around the acceptance of gay culture, the need for discretion and unsafe practices will dwindle. Maybe some day people will even be able to express their sexual orientation without the stigmas that come along with being gay, eradicating the need to hide your face behind your phone screen. Still, bathhouses, hook-up apps, bar meet-cutes are often seen as gay rites of passage. While clinically discourageable if not practiced erring on the side of caution, many gay men look at them as a part of the lifestyle, something their friends have all done that they wish to experience, or even just a good story to tell. After all, apps like Grindr have also made it increasingly easy for people to meet for sex. It’s the intention of the app, with many men just have chest pics as their profile picture, whether that be to remain anonymous or simply to attract sexual partners. And yet, while there are people who claim they are looking for a relationship on these apps, for the most part, it would appear that most are only looking for sextheir Mr. Right Now rather than their Mr. Right.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2017

A note from the editor-in-chief.

Today is 18th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR). It is a day not only to be acknowledged by the world’s trans community, but by the world as a whole. This is because trans people should not be pigeonholed to just their community, or even just to the LGBTQIA community. Just like cisgender people, transgender people are just … people.

Trans Day of Remembrance has been annually recognized since 1999, when it was established by trans advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith. Smith started the memorialization in response to the murder of Rita Hester, a trans woman who was murdered the year before. In the years since its inception, TDoR has become a vigil not only for Hester, but for all the trans people who have lost their lives to violence in the years since.

Today, we can see that violence against the trans community has not changed much. In 2017, 25 trans people have been victim to a fatal crime, including Texas’s own Stephanie Montez, a 47-year-old trans woman from Robstown. The majority of those people were trans women of color; and those numbers are up by 2 from 2016, with still a month and a half of the year left to go before the beginning of 2018.

The names of the people lost in 2017 are as follows: Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow (28), Mesha Caldwell (41), Sean Hake (age unknown), Jojo Striker (23), Tiara Lashaytheboss Richmond (24), Jaquarrius Holland (18), Chyna Doll Dupree (31), Ciara McElveen (21), Alphonza Watson (38), Chayviss Reed (age unknown), Kenneth Bostick (59), Sherrell Faulkner (46), Kenne McFadden (26), Josie Berrios (28), Ava Le Ray Barrin (17), Ebony Morgan (28), Troy “Tee Tee” Dangerfield (32), Gwenyvere River Song (26), Kiwi Herring (30), Kashmire Redd (28), Derricka Banner (26), Ally Steinfeld (17), Stephanie Montez (47), and Candace Towns (30).

Sadly, the attitude toward the trans community around the country is not generally improving – especially so with a president in the Oval Office who perpetuates antiquated and ridiculous stereotypes about the trans community by trying to ban trans servicemen and women from the military. From there, it trickles down. It trickles down to his supporters, those who are unsure of him, but who still listen, and then to the children of all of those people. Children who, if I might add, we should be educating about equality, about not seeing gender identity or sexual orientation or color or religion or nationality.

That’s why here at About Magazine, I’m making it a personal mission to make About Magazine + About News just as inclusive of our trans community as it is of the lesbian, bisexual, gay, and pansexual community. We will also be more inclusive of the intersex and asexual communities, so that no one is left behind.

To do so, we will be launching in 2018 our first page on the website for trans-only content, aptly titled About Trans. Currently, we are looking for trans writers and editors to be a part of this initiative. Until then, I will oversee it. However, I am a cis person, and in order for this operation to be genuine and authentic, it is my earnest belief that this portion of our site should be trans-run. If you or anyone you know would like to be a part of About Trans, feel free to email me at anthony@about-online.com.

Going forward, let’s remember what today stands for, and remind ourselves and our trans friends, neighbors, and loved ones that they are just as important as anyone else, and that we’re there to aid them if they should ever need it in any way. Give them your love, and give them your support, because they are just as much a part of the LGBTQIA community as anyone else that falls into any of those other categories. And if you don’t believe this to be true, read a little bit of our content today so that you can understand why trans people are so important to the queer cause. Because as genderqueer activist and musician C.N. Lester said, “Even when we are confused about someone’s gender, and don’t have a greater awareness of what it means to be trans, we have a choice to respond with kindness rather than cruelty.”

Choose kindness.

Choose community.

Choose love.

 

Anthony Ramirez

Editor-in-Chief

 

For more information on Transgender Day of Remembrance, visit the GLADD website here. 

About Magazine Announces First Podcast

About That Podcast About Magazine

Dan Cato and Anthony Ramirez will host and produce About’s first podcast, “… About That.”

(HOUSTON) — With the announcement of About Magazine + About News’ new editor-in-chief, Anthony Ramirez, came the announcement of some rebranding to the About platform. As a part of that, Ramirez explained that a large piece of his creative vision would be to extend About into multimedia news and opinions, including video content, podcasts, and more.

The ball has begun to roll on these projects, as Ramirez and Dan Cato (marketing chair and board observer for Pride Houston) will co-executive produce and co-host About’s first podcast, aptly titled, … About That. Cato and Ramirez are friends and colleagues who met working together for Pride Houston. Cato is a graduate of the University of Houston, where he also worked in marketing.

… About That is set to premiere in January of 2018 and promises a relaxed and fluid format. In it, Cato and Ramirez will discuss a wide variety of LGBTQIA topics and issues, including sexual consent, intersectionality, gun control, sex, Pride around the world, Houston’s LGBTQIA history, and much more. Additionally, … About That will serve as a platform for interviewing LGBTQIA leaders, personalities, and citizens from Texas to better provide introspection, enlightenment, and differing opinions.

Cato and Ramirez will begin production of … About That in December, after which a premiere date will be announced via About’s social media platforms. Ramirez states that this is only the first of many new media projects About will be offering in the 2018 year.

Isobel Explains It All

Isobel O'Hare, writer, poet, queer, sexual assault, explain.
Isobel O'Hare --- the queer writer tackling sexual assault with poetry.

Isobel O’Hare tactfully corrects sexual assault statements of Louis C.K., Harvey Weinstein, and more in their series of erasure poems

(TAOS, NEW MEXICO) —  The ensuing conversation and controversy surrounding Hollywood’s elite recently is anything but shocking. Women, queer people, trans people, and people of color are not strangers to sexual assault and violence committed by people perceived to possess more “power” or “authority.” Still, this behavior has been perpetuated to sickening extremes throughout the history of the human race.

However, something sort of marvelous is happening: these dirty old men are being held accountable for their actions, because the victims of these assaults are owning their stories and honing their courage to step forward and say, “We’re not going to fucking take this anymore.” Because they’re being held accountable, men like Louis C.K., George Takei, Harvey Weinstein, Jeremy Piven, and Kevin Spacey have been preparing quick (albeit defensive) statements that encompass an entire spectrum of mansplained explanations. Takei, a long-time proponent of always believing the victims of sexual violence, has outright denied allegations (a la Bill Cosby). C.K. has at the very least had the nerve to own up to his actions and apologize. Spacey has blamed his actions on (and I’m paraphrasing here) being drunk and gay. As for that classless crotch-itch that is Harvey Weinstein? Well, he’s pretty much still just a gross old man who thinks his behavior is okay because he began his career in the 60’s and apparently thinks Mad Men is some sort of biopic or WikiHow video.

But the real beauty of these statements is not what the assailants themselves have said to their fans and followers. No, no. The real magic is what one queer writer/poet located in Taos, New Mexico has done with those aforementioned statements.

Their name is Isobel O’Hare (pronouns they/them/their), and they are making waves not just in the literary world as a writer, but also on a level where their poetry is being seen and shared by numerous media outlets and celebrity advocates such as Rose McGowan. In their series of erasure poems, “All This Can Be Yours,” O’Hare has taken the responsive statements of numerous sexual predators who have spent their careers in the spotlight and created erasure poems out of them.

Screen-Shot-2017-11-15-at-12.58.16-PM-259x300 Isobel Explains It All

For those of you who aren’t familiar with erasure (or black-out) poetry, it’s a form of found poetry that allows the writer to take a previously written text, black-out the words they do not need, and leave only the words that make-up a poem.

23509499_921428078021168_6224391470347188057_o-244x300 Isobel Explains It AllO’Hare’s erasure poem made from George Takei’s statement regarding allegations of sexual assault. 

After seeing writer O’Hare share their poems on Facebook, they agreed to talk to About Magazine about the queer perspective of sexual assault:

About Magazine: Sexual assault—especially so in the community of queer people, people of color, and women—is nothing new. Could you tell me a little bit about your initial reactions to these brave individuals coming out and standing up for themselves against such high-profile celebrities?

Isobel O’Hare: I think it is the ultimate bravery. Naming one’s abuse is a painful, exhausting process, especially in the face of a system that would prefer we stay silent and maintain decorum, and especially in a society where victims are constantly blamed for what happens to us. So often I have seen survivors point to a problem and then get blamed for that problem, or be responded to with deflection and distraction. So many of these men’s victims have been living in fear and intimidation, and so much of their art has been prevented, silenced, blotted out from the world due to this intimidation. My friend, the poet Dena Rash Guzman, wrote recently on Facebook, “I’m so tired of being the bad guy in this,” and I think most survivors can relate. And this isn’t just an issue in Hollywood. It exists in the literary community and probably in every artistic (and spiritual and political and and and…) community you can imagine. And I have never encountered a single person who approached the issue of a callout without giving it serious consideration, not least of all because of the damage and shame they would suffer themselves. Nobody does this for fame or money or any kind of reward. They do this to exorcise themselves and their communities of demons. And when those demons have all the money, power, support, and expensive lawyers at their disposal, you can imagine how terrifying that is.

I don’t think I have ever met a person who hasn’t been traumatized in some way, and I don’t think we as a species are quite ready to confront that yet, that we are all damaged in some way, all hurting. So instead we point at other people and label them the damaged ones, and they become scapegoats, when in reality those people are just the most open about their damage. We should be thanking them for showing us who we are.

It’s clear that the responses from the celebrities has sparked a certain rage in you (and I do mean that in the best way). Where did the inspiration come from to use their statements to create such moving erasure poetry?

My rage fueled these erasures. I have a lot of rage, and I have a lot of conversations with fellow artists about the uses of rage. It’s a poorly understood emotion. My original goal with these erasures was to make myself feel better about having to read this shit every single day, and I hoped that by sharing them on social media my friends could share in my catharsis. As I worked on them, the purpose of what I was doing became clearer to me: I was revealing the truth (as I see it) behind their PR statements, and I was reversing what they had done to their victims by erasing their voices, their creative work, and in some cases their careers. I had no idea that the erasures would blow up in the way that they have. It’s a tiny bit scary, but I’m so pleased to hear from so many people I’ve never met that the poems have contributed to their own healing in some way. That’s more than I ever could have hoped for.

You identify as a queer person. In the case of such names as Kevin Spacey and George Takei, do you believe that these men were under the impression that because they could blanket themselves under their queer status that they could get away with sexual violence?

I absolutely do think that Kevin Spacey used his queer status as a tool of deflection in his statement. It is my opinion that predation and homosexuality have nothing inherently to do with one another, so to conflate the two the way he did does incredible harm to a community that already suffers from dangerous stigma and myths. I was very angry when I read those words because I have seen how the myth of gay perversion has affected my friends and members of my communities. Language has the power to move people to action, and action fueled by homophobia can and does lead to violence and death. You didn’t assault people because you are gay, Kevin. You assaulted people because you’re an asshole.

George Takei used his history of activism to deflect from the issue, which is that he harmed someone. And now he claims that the sexual assault allegations were manufactured and propagated by Russian bots, which I find ridiculous and insulting to Scott R. Brunton, the actual human being who claims to have been assaulted by him. My erasure of Takei’s statement seeks to highlight the fact that just because someone is a prominent and outspoken activist doesn’t mean they aren’t also hurting people. The feminist community knows all too well the disguise of the “nice guy” or the “male feminist” who is only in it to get laid. I hoped to draw attention to the fact that, despite George Takei addressing his fanbase as “Friends,” we really don’t know anything about him other than what he and his PR machine want us to know.

How personal is this issue to you? Understandably, it’s personal for so many people around the globe. 

This issue is very personal for me. I was first sexually assaulted at the age of 4, and I believe that early experience messed with my sense of personal boundaries to the extent that I became victimized many times over in my adolescence and early adulthood. I know firsthand how abuse like this transforms the shape of one’s life. I used to wonder what I could have been if these things hadn’t happened to me, but I’ve come to the understanding that I am not irreparably damaged and that I have a perspective on trauma that is actually valuable. I’ve managed to find my people in this life, and they are beautiful. And I am continuously learning how to claim and stand in my power, in large part thanks to them. In the immortal words of the butterfly in The Last Unicorn, “You can find the others if you are brave.”

We spoke specifically earlier about how other outlets are covering your poetry as if it’s solely from a “woman’s perspective,” but that they are glossing over (or possibly just don’t have the information to understand) that you identify as a queer person. Do you have anything you’d like to say to that point, or about why this is such an important queer issue, as well as one for women?

I think most outlets don’t realize I’m queer and non-binary, which is partly my fault because my website has a bio that uses the pronouns she/her. I am a queer non-binary femme and I’m fine with either they/them or she/her, but my heart does tend to sing a bit more with the former.

When the #MeToo campaign popped up after allegations against Harvey Weinstein, I saw a lot of people using the hashtag to silence queer and non-binary people, as well as men (whether queer or not) who have also been victims of sexual assault. I found that a disturbing aspect of a campaign that should have been about amplifying the voices of all survivors, not just the female ones. Yes, most predators are men and believe me, I am as filled with rage against men as anyone, but not all of their victims are women. We have seen how many men come out with stories about Kevin Spacey now? I know quite a few men who are sexual assault survivors, and I knew quite a few boys who were when I was growing up, and sometimes the language of popular survivor movements can alienate and erase these men’s experiences. I think it would be wonderful if survivors could prop each other up as much as possible at this moment.

The trans POC community statistically suffers from a greater deal of sexual and physical violence, but this is less discussed even within our own community. What do you think cis-gender/non-POC queer people can do during this movement to shed light onto the trans POC community’s issues in these cases?

I think those of us who are at a lower risk of violence need to amplify the voices of those who are most at risk. We need to share the insights of trans POC without arguing with them. If a trans POC says that something is problematic, racist, and/or transphobic, then their truth needs to be supported. We need to listen to and honor the needs of our trans colleagues, and we need to be prepared to risk our own safety for their sake. We need to support the creative work of queer and trans POC. The world needs that work desperately, and anyone with a platform should be supporting and urging that work on. We need to talk about the trans POC who are killed every day and not let their lives and their work simply disappear.

We also need to acknowledge the contributions POC have made to every single social justice movement we are a part of. For example, the #MeToo campaign was started, sans hashtag, by a black woman ten years ago. Too often we steal from the most marginalized people in our communities and pretend their genius wasn’t what started all of this in the first place. A few years ago, I attended an event in DC where my dear friend Dane Figueroa Edidi sang so powerfully and with such beautiful rage that my body nearly exploded, and I want more people to hear her voice. There is no reason why Edidi isn’t our President, to be honest.

We also need to consider that there are likely many, many very marginalized people who are still being kept silent about their abuse right now. We might never hear their stories, but I am sure they exist.

IsobelOHare-300x277 Isobel Explains It All

More about the writing: how long have you been writing, and what are you interests in writing outside of erasure poetry?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. The first and only job I ever expressed wanting to have was that of a writer. Everything else I have ever done has been secondary to that, even though writing has brought me almost no money. My writing has always tended toward the darker aspects of life, and so my poems have often been fueled by my traumatic experiences, sometimes collaged with reworkings of old stories of maligned goddesses and observations made while watching old Forensic Files episodes. In terms of form, I have a chapbook of more traditional poems (by which I simply mean that they are not erasures), called Heartbreak Machinery, coming out from dancing girl press in 2018. I used to think, “I should probably write about something other than abuse and trauma,” but I’ve come to realize that those thoughts come from a place of shame that shouldn’t dictate how I channel my art. I’ll keep writing about these issues as long as I feel moved to, and if I’m moved to for the rest of my life, that’s OK too.

It seems that artists have long been undervalued in this country—especially queer writers. And yet writers like yourself are using art to bring such important topics to light and start a conversation we should have been having for a long time. Was this how you saw your writing career before you began as a professional writer—as a means of encouraging social action?

I didn’t have a plan or a vision for how I wanted my “writing career” to turn out, and I still laugh at the idea that I have a writing career at all. I’m a poet, which means I’m sort of chilling in this moist ditch while all the other, realer writers are driving their fancy cars by me, splashing me with dirty roadwater. At least, that’s the story that has been told about poets forever. And I’m still just starting out. When I was 14, a coworker told me, “Your mouth is going to get you in trouble someday,” and I think back to that all the time. I think she was right, and that that is probably a more accurate prediction of my trajectory as a writer than anything I could have dreamed of for myself or my writing up to this point. And if getting in trouble means challenging rich men who abuse their power, then I’m all for it.

As a queer writer, what would you like to see more of in poetry and literature—especially commercial poetry and literature? 

I would love to see more visual poetry. I mean, I obviously love erasure, and I especially love erasure that, like good satire, punches up rather than down. (Erases up?) I co-edit a literary journal with Carleen Tibbetts called Dream Pop, and we have been fortunate enough to receive some truly amazing visual poetry submissions ranging from erasure to collage to weird diagrams to fabric with poems stitched into it. It’s so much fun not only to read these things but to enjoy them as art objects, to think of poems as art objects, and to share those art objects with people who might not have ever thought that poetry could be this way. Additionally, we have received poems from queer and trans writers who are pushing the boundaries of language in relation to trauma and gender, and I’m excited to see where these writers go next. Specifically, I am thinking of poets like Chloe Rose and Linette Reeman. I see myself in the future drowning in a sea of queer poems, and I think that would be a pretty good way to go.

Do you see this conversation changing the landscape for queer people, trans people, people of color, and women? What do you think other writers can do to help paint that new landscape, and what advice would you give them? 

At this particular time, I do see the landscape shifting a little, but maybe you’ve just caught me at an optimistic moment. I do think this conversation will change the way a lot of us see people who hold positions of cultural power, and that we will question our devotion to and faith in such people. And I hope that that questioning will lead to a greater openness to the narratives of marginalized people.

I don’t feel like I’m terribly qualified to give other writers advice. All I can say is that the things I have written that hold, in my mind, the greatest power were the things I wrote when I was shaking with rage. I don’t know if that’s how everyone should do it, but maybe some of you out there are afraid of your rage (I once was, too!) and if that’s you, I hereby give you permission to embrace it, use it, follow its lead, and it might take you to a place you never expected full of other people who recognize you because they did the same and now you’re all here together.


To read more from Isobel, you can visit their website at IsobelOHare.com. You can also purchase A Shadow Map: An Anthology of Survivors of Sexual Assault, in which O’Hare contributed, edited by Joanna C. Valente. O’Hare is currently planning a collection of these poems, which they are currently working on.