You know what they say: “evolve or die”. And in a world where your next French kiss might be no farther than the end of your backyard, gay dating and hook-up sites have had to change faster than most. Way back when Grindr was nothing more than just a vague wet dream in Joel Simkhai’s mind, the king of the road when it came to meeting guys was Gaydar – its array of oiled-up nipples and extreme close-ups as synonymous with the late Nineties and early Noughties as Steps, Harry Potter and Britney.
Gaydar broke through where other sites could not, bringing your friendly neighbourhood gays right to your door – most of the time welcomed. Gaydar is where a lot of our ‘saucier’ social media obsessions began: selfies, knob shots, picking your best pose and, best of all, telling a few fibs about how faaaabulous you are.
I first set up a Gaydar profile, around a decade ago, while I was in a relationship, bizarrely. In a really quite frightening example of foreshadowing, I wanted to a do a piece on how what you put on dating profiles could affect the reaction you got from punters on a variety of dating sites. I sat with my then-boyfriend and we filled in the form as honestly as we thought everyone else would. In other words, not remotely.
It asked the most personal of questions, including the question to end all questions. No, not that one (I put “extra large”, FYI), but the one where you list your fetishes. The options were dazzling to a younger me, whose presence on the gay arena thus far had veered very much toward the vanilla scoop of the Neopolitan knickerbocker. Muscles, jocks, sportswear, twinks, tattoos, armpits – no predilection’s stone was left unturned. I’ll leave you guessing which ones I selected (‘armpits’ certainly was NOT in my final five). I did, of course, lie about my height – it’s the unwritten law of internet dating that all men will.
I finished with a flourish and uploaded a blurred photo that was about as representative of me as a Crimewatch photofit of the Cookie Monster would’ve been, digital cameras being fairly thin on the ground back then, and waited. My lack of pictorial skin worked against me, sadly, and I didn’t exactly have to fight off many admirers. Thanks goodness I wasn’t looking for real.
By the time I was back on the market and had a genuine use for it, Gaydar had faded into the background of the dating scene somewhat, concentrating mainly on extending its brand through bars or radio stations. Grindr, Blendr, Zoosk, OK Cupid et al moved in on an unsuspecting audience who perhaps hadn’t previously realised just how gagging for it they actually were.
But now it’s 2013 and the gloves are off. At least I think that was a glove. Gaydar has recognised what gay men want – or at least what they say they want – and is going mobile. It has had what all gays need when they’re feeling against the ropes – a makeover!
While they’re not entirely leaving their hook-up heritage behind, they’re keen to make themselves known as a dating website. Their new service ‘Gaydar on your mobile’ takes what people love Grindr for and has given it more of a personal touch. There’s a ‘Find Him’ function, apparently, which allows you to tailor your search to your no doubt exacting criteria and saves you scrolling through the same old mugshots. And you’re not just restricted to the local talent – you can cast your net farther than your local postcodes in the effort to find Mr Right, or even Mr Right Now. And, as it’s not available through the App Store but directly from Gaydar, there are fewer of those pesky ‘restrictions’ to hold you back. Reading between the lines, I’m guessing this means you can post more pictures of your pecker without fear of reproach. But I’m not sure – I have never actually done that because my mother has broadband now and I don’t want Christmas to be any more excruciating than it needs to be.
So if you’re a sandwich short of a sausage, have a look on m.gaydar.net and see what’s available.
Full disclosure: Gaydar did ask me if I minded blogging about their new mobile service in exchange for a swanky dinner. And so I said yes, as long as I could do it my way. And I rather think I have.