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Giving Grindr a Go at Age 51

Giving Grindr a Go at Age 51

Giving Grindr a Go at Age 51

Unlike its users, the app's simultaneous joys and heartbreaks are ageless.

So I bought my first smartphone last week. I know: Welcome to the 21st century.

I've avoided smartphones over the years because they seemed so addictive and isolating, but now that I've had the chance to live with one for a few days, I have to admit I'm smitten by the technology, and the phone's fit and finish is just beautiful: I can't stop caressing the damn thing. What can I say? Smeagol is pleased. Very pleased.

Anyway, as I was drifting off to sleep the other night, a stunning realization suddenly hit me like a ton of rainbow-colored bricks: I can get on Grindr now! I thought as I powered up my smartphone, I can get on Grindr!

Heart racing and temples pounding, I sat at the edge of my bed and mercilessly poked and prodded my little precious until it led me to the fabled site. Moments later, my room was bathed in a lurid orange glow.

I was in.

Although 51, I felt like a kid again, having stepped into a wondrous new world; but unfortunately I couldn't proceed without first suffering through a mind-numbingly long list of terms and conditions:

"Will you allow us to use your location?"
"I accept."
"Will you allow us to share your email address with other advertisers?"
"I accept."
"Can we send you incredibly hot pics of local guys while you're (a) consoling a jilted lover, (b) attending your grandmother's wake, or (c) frantically capping off a Mount St. Helens-size back pimple?
"I accept."
"Can we play with your mind 24/7, 365 days per year?
"Good Lord! I accept, I accept I ACCEPT!!"

When it finally came time to upload a pic, my heart momentarily sunk once again when the following warning appeared: "ABSOLUTELY NO PREHISTORIC IMAGES ALLOWED."

How ageist! I thought. That can't be right. But then I fetched my reading glasses:


Ah, now the message made sense, but it got me thinking: I wanted to upload a picture that was sharp and clear, but just a touch flattering as well. Something detailed, but not too detailed; vague but not too vague ... you know, a happy compromise between Lindsey Lohan's mug shot and the Shroud of Turin.

In the end, I settled on a torso shot. While the Grindr gods were reviewing my submission, I perused a few profiles to pass the time. I was surprised to see that people's desires (and delusions) hadn't changed much over the years.

The guy in closest proximity to me described himself as a "100 percent True Top," though he occasionally made exceptions for 110 percent True Tops.

My heart went out to the second closest guy, an 18-year-old virgin who was on Grindr looking for "true love" and "TRUE LOVE ONLY." (And God help anyone who IM's him and suggests otherwise.)

What really blew my mind was the sheer number of gay and bisexual men who lived around me. I'm in a working-class, blue-collar neighborhood, far, far away from the gay bars, trendy shops, and hip restaurants downtown. If someone had asked me to guess how many gays lived in my neighborhood, I would have estimated about five to 10 people.

It turns out that there are around 40 to 50. Who knew? My low estimate was likely influenced by the fact that I came of age in the late '70s, when most LGBT kids grew up feeling isolated and alone.

I doubt I'll ever meet most of the people behind the smiling faces staring up at me from my smartphone, but it's comforting to know that I have so many gay and bisexual brothers surrounding me, and I'm sure that the younger generation of LGBT people in my neighborhood feel comforted as well.

That's why we need to stay visible. That's why we need to continue to fight for our rights. That's why we need to ... OMG I just got my first batch of IMs!

"go away gramps"
"starving student needs financial aid..."
"u really only 5'1"?"
"do ankle bracelets freak u out?"
"Why no face pic?"
"Dude I'm only 25 feet away..."
"foot fetish here, can I play with ur feet?"
"sup bro"
"will u drive me to Fresno if I pay for gas?

But it was too late: With all the strength and courage I could muster, I'd staggered down the stairs and tossed my smartphone into the fireplace. I just hoped and prayed that there was enough heat left to destroy it.

john danielJOHN DANIEL lives in Sacramento.

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