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What followed was the suggestion to try “the apps,” which I admittedly rolled my eyes at.
Because the Internet churns out so much, so often, a writer can worry about getting lost in the shuffle. I’m not the gay black male writer, but I am one of the few who are 30 (youngish), and sharing my experiences in spaces outside of gay media.It turns out that Places where black aunties and uncles primarily read (EBONY, Essence); sites my niece likely frequents more than I (BET.com); where straight men are (Complex); and sites that feel as white as that new gentrified coffee shop in Harlem with amazing vegan cookies (Time).Since I work from home, being clocked on a hook up app is my realization that people might actually read me.When I shared this with my friend, Alex, he said, “I don’t get how you feel like you wouldn’t get recognized.You’re an openly gay journalist who writes everything, everywhere.I don’t know what the group is for; one presumes it’s for bitches that don’t know how to mind their own business. It’s been an on again, off again process ever since. Others have told me that they wouldn’t dare use something like Jack’d.
It seems seedy, desperate, lazy, or some other adjective that describes behavior one should be “above.” So while I could talk about my sex life, or lack thereof, on an NPR program as I did last summer with Michele Martin, I was embarrassed when confronted about Jack’d. I remember a lot of gay men dissecting the Huffington Post essay “Why I’ve Given Up on Hooking Up,” in which writer Lester Brathwaite laments about how the apps invoke his insecurities about masculinity, femininity, body image, and a desire to “make real connections in the real world.” Brathwaite’s truth is his, but my takeaway was that he’d come across those same issues on any social media platform and in the real time in “the real world.” I’m not sure if the intent was to dissuade everyone else from hookup culture, but it was cited plenty by peers to make such a case.It’s the i Phone equivalent of the “Independent Women (Part II)” line: “Only ring your celly when I’m feeling lonely, when it’s all over, please get up and leave.” Why should I feel about guilty about it?This question is something I had to finally confront.And as someone who was raised to keep everything private, public acknowledgement of such behavior sometimes feels more of a burden than it needs to.But if Marc Jacobs can admittedly use Grindr and Tinder, I’ll should be fine.I never dawned on me that to some — namely those younger or around the same age as me — I am one of the few working gay black male writers they know.