Is Grindr Killing The Gay Community?

Gay bars used to rival Amsterdam’s red light district as the horniest place to be. Tales of endless flirting, erotic desire and sweaty dance floors where the sexual energy oozed from every crack. There was something for everyone, and usually more than on. Going home with someone was effortlessly. I’ve heard countless times, mostly from older queer generations, that those were the glory days and things have indeed changed. Gay bars don’t have the same electric feel. Many suspect Grindr and other gay dating apps are killing the gay community. What do they mean by that, and is it true?

While I can’t reach back into time and directly compare the ‘gay-glory-days of dating at the club,’ I can speculate and reflect on what I have seen as the positive and negative effects of Grindr, and other gay dating apps when it comes to flirting, fucking and our community at large. 

Gay Dating Apps – The Downfall Of Our Community?

The reality is that dating apps make finding other queer people a lot easier. Now you don’t have to go to the gay club or bar to find out who is gay in your town. You can go online. This is especially true in places where the pool for the queer community is smaller, such as a rural town. Apps also make it much easier to meet queer folks while traveling as it allows you to tap into the scene effortlessly. Finally, gay dating apps make it safer and more accessible for folks who aren’t out yet or don’t feel comfortable spending time in queer spaces. 

With this lens, it’s easier than ever to get in touch with other queer people through gay dating apps like Grindr, Scruff, and Tinder (to share a few). Chances are when you ask a gay couple how they’ve met, you will hear a gay dating app escape their lips as they retell their origin story. In fact, the number of gay couples I have known that have met IRL –in real life– can be counted on my fingers. There is a very good reason for this. Wonderful connections await us on the gay dating apps, whether these connections result in friendship, a hot hookup, a date, a boyfriend or networking opportunities, they are there for the taking. 

However not everyone is always very happy with the apps. There is no doubt that Grindr impacts our queer lives, but what are these impacts?

What are the positives and negatives of Grindr on our queer lives?

The Effect Gay Dating Apps Have on Gay Nightlife 

Let’s start with my personal feelings towards nightlife. If you know me, you know that I love going to gay bars and clubs. To be surrounded by my community, feeling like I am amongst like-minded people who empower me and make me feel proud to be gay, lifts me up. The music, the dancing, the connections. Some of my best memories and moments have been spent in gay bars and clubs. 

However, these havens are starting to dwindle. There is no denying that there are way less gay bars than there used to be and there are people who claim it’s because of apps like Grindr. Now, I’m not sure if it’s fair to blame the dying out of gay bars solely on Grindr and other dating apps. It’s hard to pinpoint one exact reason. It’s likely a mix of things that are contributing to this.

So, yes, dating apps are the most common way to meet gay people. And yes, before the apps, the most common place to easily meet other gay people was in gay spaces, mainly gay bars and clubs. However, it’s worth mentioning that gay bars were perhaps one of the only places queer folks felt safe. Good news, this has changed. It also means that queer folks are more dispersed than before. Gay people feel more accepted to go out in non-queer spaces and therefore, don’t always feel the need to spend time in a space just for queer people. This is a generally positive possibility that is very likely contributing to the dwindling of gay bars. 

A little less positive reason is gentrification. A lot of gay bars in city and urban areas had problems staying open during Covid-19, when bars and clubs struggled to stay afloat. Many of those spaces were bought and filled with shops, cafes, or spaces that could afford to weather the pandemic storm. To make matters worse, nightlife in general (not only gay nightlife) is on a decline. Newer generations are less likely to go out in general, making businesses like clubs and bars, especially niche ones, harder and harder to thrive.

Realistically, nothing is black or white. So it would be extremely oversimplified to say that gay dating apps are killing the gay community. However, all of these suggestions deserve a slice of the pie in the why.

The Effect Gay Dating Apps Have on Our Self Esteem

While dating apps definitely play a part in the dwindling of gay community spaces, they are not the only reason. However, dating apps are making other things dwindle too– very important things such as our self-esteem. When scrolling through Grindr, it’s so easy to focus on the people on the grid who draw your eye simply because of how hot they are: beautiful bodies, handsome faces, people with profile names like 8” ????. Grindr is heavily focused around the visual aspect of attraction and that can be damaging.

The focus on physical appearance and superficial qualities supersedes the attraction for deeper connections and compatibility. For example, having a shirtless picture showing off your abs will guarantee more views and messages. Even if a lot of people with hot ripped pictures don’t always (still) look like they did when the pictures were taken. That six pack that you see? They might have only had it for a week. 

It’s hard not to compare and to get distracted by all the hotties on the app. It’s easy to get excited about a potential hook-up or date and then have them not match with you or have them ghost you immediately. It can be hard to keep up your sense of self worth while using the apps.

Having a good physical appearance can also help you get attention in real life, not just on Grindr. But the reality is that appearances are not everything. In real life people are able to see more of your personality and character beyond just your looks. This means that having a good personality and vibe can also help you attract others, creating a more level playing field. In contrast, on Grindr, where physical appearance is often the main focus, having a good personality and vibe may not be as apparent or valued.

These things can definitely contribute to self esteem issues to those who don’t feel they meet the app’s beauty standards or those who compare themselves to others.

A hot picture on your Grindr profile gets you far… Really far… But does it really say much about you?

Hookup Culture and Addiction

There is no denying that a lot of us are on Grindr for the potential for casual sex. With some luck, you can arrange a hot hookup to come over to your place within 5 minutes of talking and have an amazing time. (Review or read my guide on the best tips and trick for hooking on Grindr here.)

Grindr and other gay dating apps create a safe space that helps people explore their sexuality. Never has it been easier to find out what you like sexually. The low-pressure environment is convenient for those who are looking for a casual encounter without any strings attached. The benefit of these casual encounters can definitely make you more experienced in bed. However, it’s easy to get lost in the sauce. 

Grindr Addiction is Real

While having casual encounters is fun and needed once in a while, it might be unhealthy for people who chase only that type of connection. Just like any other addiction, people can resort to Grindr for casual hookups to escape reality. This is especially dangerous when combining drugs with the ease of hooking up. Emotional intimacy is often lacking during these casual encounters and sex can become pretty robotic. This can impact future relationships as well, as a person might find it challenging to develop a meaningful and lasting relationship.

Now, not every interaction on Grindr has to be a quick casual encounter. I’ve met so many people through Grindr who ended up becoming good friends and it’s a great way to meet fellow travelers and find out what is happening in their neighbourhood. Additionally, networking on Grindr is also something I believe our community can greatly benefit from. Read how you can benefit from it here.

Grindr And Other Apps Are Doing The Most

There is no doubt that many of the gay apps want you to spend as much time as possible using their apps. The more you use it, the more money they make. Because of this, they are doing the most. Now, it’s not all bad.

Luckily for us, they are also doing a lot to improve our community. At the very least, visibility, everyone is welcome on Grindr. Gay dating apps have features that help people label their gender identity and sexual orientation. It’s easy to find other people you like that way. Being able to include all parts of you on your profile is inclusive and supportive. 

The gay dating apps are also doing their best to spread information and resources about sexual health such as safe sex practices, testing sites, reminders, and treatment options. Grindr for example has started a partnership with a sexual health program to distribute free at-home HIV tests– how awesome is that!

Last but not least, the apps (mostly Scruff) are also a great way to find out about events and parties in your area. It’s like having a bulletin board on your phone, it’s great!


It can be easy to jump to conclusions, point fingers and blame gay dating apps for challenges faced by the gay community. However, the situation is far more complex and nuanced. 

The apps allow easier connections with other queer people– whether that’s platonic, romantic or sexual. In the same breath, the apps have also played a role in the decline of gay bars and clubs, which are important social spaces for queer people.

Apps can also impact self esteem due to being heavily focused on physical appearance and the hookup culture and sex addiction can suck you into a cycle that could impact your life negatively. To counteract this, make sure to take a step back once in a while and focus on creating real (life), lasting, deep connections with other queer people! 

And don’t forget to support your local gay bar/club once in a while!

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