I can’t say I’ve dabbled with many hook-up apps outside of Grindr and Scruff. I’d pop into Jack’d occasionally to see what the hype was about, then promptly forget to log back in to answer any lingering messages. Before I was married, these apps served the obvious purpose, and I definitely had my share of fun. The thrill of the chase, the flirting, casually hunting down who fits your fancy, and those steamy one-night stands, are only a handful of reasons the thirsty log in to the apps. I’m not ashamed to claim my place among the thirsty, and please know that I’m very sex positive. Let your freak flag fly, and remember to play safe.

The landscape changes when you’re in a monogamous relationship. Maybe some of you are in ethical, open scenarios, shady situationships, or just hanging out to pass the time. Regardless of your intentions, there’s always a flash of devious wonder and hope that someone will tap or match with you. It’s amazing what that tiny dose of attention does for some of us online; and from total strangers at that. There’s nothing wrong with that either. There was a time before COVID when we’d invite the occasional guest star over for some fun, but these days we’re only interested in fostering new friendships and growing our queer circle. Note: Allies are always welcome.

I know, I know… you think I’m crazy.

Why would a person even try to make friends on a hook-up app? Hell, even the friendly, meet-up applications out there end up leading to dick pics and nudes. It doesn’t seem possible to find actual friends in environments filled with imagination, lust, and hormones. Prior to COVID-19’s arrival, my husband and I were looking into ways to get out more in the local queer community. We were looking forward to joining some volunteer groups, attending more queer events, and making new friends under the rainbow. We’ve been very responsible when it comes to Coronavirus, so we haven’t met up with many people. We’ve all been finding our footing after a rocky 2020 and are longing for human connection again.  What better way to safely, and virtually,  meet new people than to chat on the apps?

Things have been quite interesting to say the least re-entering the app world post-COVID. An entire chunk of spring and a whole summer has flown by, with Coronavirus in full swing, and the queens are still out here asking to come over! I have to admit, my wig was snatched. Not because I was surprised, but because a large part of me expected this from my community. Privilege and audacity flood my feeds in the form of photos and clips from maskless gatherings and parties. “Do we really need to be out here in these streets like that?” I think to myself, trying my best not to judge. I can only control my actions, but I will serve you this side eye.

I’ve met a number of characters since I’ve been back online. There are the quiet gentlemen who surprise you with decent conversation, the flirty fems that demand your attention in the best way, and of course, there are the people who completely ignore your profile info and greet you with unsolicited pictures of their assholes.

Manners are hit or miss when it comes to acknowledging what’s on a person’s profile. So far,  my experience has been that people totally disregard the part of my profile that says “just chatting” or “Looking for: Chat, Friends.” I suppose it shouldn’t be hard to believe, because most conversations on these apps tend to get a pinch flirtatious before conversation goes too deep. Self-awareness has been an important tool when it comes to interacting with other users, because the last thing I want to do is lead anybody on; that’s rude. Most of the time I will respectfully decline and go on about my business.

Relationships are what the people involved want them to be. I have been able to make friends on Grindr and other apps. Some of these people I’ve been closer to than others (if you’re picking up what I’m putting down). I can think of a few people that I communicate pretty regularly with that I’ve met online over the past handful of years. If I were to text or call any of them - in a COVID-free world - we could go grab a drink or schedule a game night. Dreams of brunch and barbecues have been heavy on my mind lately. Indianapolis is a soggy, wet and frozen mess at the moment, and some of my best pre-COVID, summer memories involve the people we’ve met on Grindr.

In the end, I do believe it’s possible to create genuine friendships on Grindr, or any other online platform. The key is to keep things light, and don’t set your expectations very high. Have fun with it! People decide what kind of relationships they want to have in their lives, and the parties involved decide what kind of relationship that will be. Friendship is no different on this front, and does fall under the relationship umbrella after all. I’m currently chatting with a couple of cool people. I casually struck up a conversation with them one boring evening, not expecting anymore than a friendly exchange. Both individuals have a fun sense of humor, and I can have fun discussions about being a young queer person in the professional world, and get in some good laughs. I see that look you’re giving the screen right now. You’re thinking “are they trying to date?!” The answer is no. It’s nice to build new, friendly connections and feel the buzz of fresh human connection again in some form.  Once things warm up here in Indianapolis, I’d like to have them over for a fire in the backyard. Maybe we’ll bust out the cornhole boards too. My husband is way better at that game than I will ever be.

Remember to be open and to step outside of what you already know. As long as everyone’s  intentions are good and all parties involved are clear about what kind of friendship they are forming, all will be well. The online social approach isn’t for everybody. We all have our preferred methods of connecting, especially when we’re meeting people for the first time. I find an extended sense of community when I find myself unexpectedly thrown into conversation, on Grindr, about black, trans, and queer issues. That’s always such a good feeling when you find a little more of your tribe out there. Who knows where these relationships will go, but right now during COVID, it’s interactions and social adventures like these that keep the small joys coming.