Amber Waves of Grain and A Sea of Headless Torsos
In my experience, being a single gay man in the heartland brings challenges that differ from those faced by our coastal brethren. We live in a part of the country that is, by and large, more conservative, and more sparsely populated. That can make finding a date feel a little intimidating. The dating pool is smaller AND more likely to be at least partially in the closet.
So what is a lonely PrairieGay to do? Technology!
A million articles have been written about Grindr, and its many copycats. It’s been called impersonal, transactional, cold, and driven by our very basest instincts. And for many of its users, that is a fair assessment. You will find on these apps no shortage of pictures of muscular, chiseled, perfectly tanned, shirtless torsos… without heads. And many these guys are likely to strike up a conversation with inquisitive panache; “wut u n2?” or even “u looking?”
Charming, I know.
But, at least in my experience, mixed in with these headless, horned-up Greek statues are bunches of regular guys. They’re guys who have faces! And they work at the coffee shop, or in an office downtown, and they really aren’t looking for a quick hookup. Many of them aren’t looking for a boyfriend either, but just want to find someone interesting to chat with.
Those are my guys.
See, here’s the thing about mid-sized, Midwestern towns. We don’t have gay neighborhoods. We don’t have gay bookstores and coffee shops. Most of us have to travel to a larger city, like Kansa City, or Wichita or St. Louis or Denver to celebrate gay pride every year. In most of our cities and towns, we just lack that critical mass of gays it takes to put on a good pride. Many of our brothers and sisters have fled to the bigger cities. Many who remain stay comfortable by assimilating into their conservative suburban neighborhoods, and would be mortified by the idea of marching down Main St. waving our flag of many colors.
And so… if you thirst for social connections and new friends among the small town, Middle American gay community, you’re gonna have to find them first. In the dark ages, before smart phones and gps and Grindr, that meant getting personal introductions from your mutual straight friends. And we all know how effective that can be:
“You’ll just LOVE my coworker Steven! You have so much in common!”
“Oh yeah? Like what?”
“Well, he’s really cute and he goes to anime conventions all the time, and he collects precious moments figurines, isn’t that just adorable?”
“Uh… I guess. What, exactly do we have in common though?”
“Well… you’re both, you know,” (whispers) “GAY!”
This retail approach to making gay friends took a very, very long time. It was hit or miss, and often a lot more miss. And then, the heavens opened up, and the gay gods brought us Grindr. Finely a wholesale outlet for meeting all the gays in a hundred mile radius!
Wow… that sure is a lot of junk.
Like I said, the apps are problematic on many levels. A dear friend of mine refers to them as “the hoechats.” As in, “Ugh, I was just hoping maybe I’d meet someone who might be fun to take to that art opening next week, but… you know how it is on the hoechats. Next thing I knew I was being inundated with uninvited pictures of some dude’s junk. By the way, what are you doing next Friday?”
But I met that very friend, you guessed it, on the hoechats. In fact, I’ve met a number of friends there. Some of them I’ve later met up with in real life, to get dinner, see a move or go to a party. So in my book, the hoechats are what you make of them. If all you want to do is find a one night stand, go for it. There’s a sea of headless torsos just waiting for you. But if you want to meet the area gays, and get to know your community a little better, you can do that too.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have half a dozen message notifications to take a look at. Oh, and by the way, I guess a few pics of your junk would be okay. Just don’t over do it.