Contributor Filip Teovanovic shares with us his experience of using Grindr in India.
After an unplanned and severely prolonged abstinence, supported by my spiritual journey in Nepal, the first thing I did when I landed in Delhi and reached my accommodation was to open Grindr.
As soon as the app loaded, an alert message spread over my screen informing me that homosexuality is illegal in India and that I can be arrested if caught in “performing” my sexuality. I was also recommended not to show my face and to turn off my distance/location. My instant reaction was to ask the many faceless torsos whether people are really prosecuted in India for being homosexuals, and all of them splashed me with a plethora of crying-smiley emoji’s.
Still paranoid, I performed some brief research and found out that homosexuality is socially decriminalised in India; even Bollywood movies have introduced gay characters over the past couple of years. Yet, the anti-homosexuality law is still active. Or should I say passive.
Let’s go back to my journey of getting out of the eunuch mode. Within the first couple of hours of my search for a one night stand, I noticed the omnipresence of the same issues I had encountered in Europe. The multitude of profiles showcasing hairy, faceless creatures noted: “no fems”. Others expressed their anti-preferences with “no fats” and “no skinny twinks”. What was even more exasperating was the fact that I have been rejected by a few men with curt explanation: “Sorry, I am not looking for foreigners”.
The phenomenon of fake photos has vastly spread in Delhi. Although the vast majority of men on Grindr claimed that their D.P was theirs (throwback to the time when I first thought that D.P stood for “double penetration” instead of “display photo”), I came to recognise some Instagram fitness celebrities in the photos we exchanged.
Unless there was an Instagram muscle convention in Delhi that I wasn’t invited to, I found it hard to believe that any of these men were who they were telling me they are. I never understood what’s the point of this fake representation, If the ultimate goal is for us to meet. But maybe we don’t have mutual goals, and that’s why we live in the world where we have to breakup before we ever see each other.
If you are a gay guy on Grindr who lives in Delhi and has his own place, then you are a unicorn from Atlantis. Virtually every profile incorporated “without place” somewhere in the description, unless it was a foreigner who happens to be waiting just for you in his five star hotel. Further on, explicit online prostitution is ubiquitous, which may or may not be in correlation with the “without place” situation.
The prevalence of escorts on both Grindr and Scruff is at least three times higher compared to the prevalence of paid tops and paid bottoms on these apps in Europe. On the other hand, the treatment of trans individuals in Indian society seems to be much better than in many other parts of the world, so I was positively surprised to see numerous openly trans individuals on Grindr. Due to lord Shiva, who is known for equally nurturing his/her feminine and masculine facets, the general population seem to be in awe of trans people. I will elaborate on this some other time, so stay tuned.
Conclusion: The global village we live in makes Grindr in India relatively similar to Grindr in Europe or the United States. As cultural differences are slowly becoming extinct, we are left wondering whether that is a good thing.
All over the world, and all over Grindr, the same question arises: Are the gay guys out there looking for serious relationships becoming an endangered endemic species?