Fire Island has historically been a summer retreat for the upwardly mobile gays of New York City, a place where the fabulous and muscled and tank-topped can run off and dance and drink and hook up with wild abandon far away from the stifling concrete jungles of Chelsea and Hells Kitchen. Is anything sacred? Apparently not, as there’s talk that the popular seasonal destination is suffering because, of course, the popular app that allows dudes to hook up with each other without even leaving their sofas.
“Grindr has changed everything,” a "buff 38-year-old hairdresser" has revealed to New York Magazine. He doesn’t mean it in a good way!
The app has been called a “virtual bathhouse” and been pegged by some as a reason for the decline of the gay bar, but in a place like Fire Island, it may be especially destructive. Aside from the beach, a large part of the attraction of the Pines scene is the opportunity to rub shoulders, and maybe sleep, with attractive and powerful gay men. “Not long ago, you’d walk around here and everybody would be cruising each other, not anonymously, but face to face,” said Sal Occhipinti, a tanned 43-year-old, at a recent afternoon “high tea” dance party in the Pines harbor. A few feet away, on the largely empty patio of the Blue Whale, a group of three men were busily typing on their devices next to the bar. According to Occhipinti, even the Meat Rack, the notoriously cruisy wooded area between the Pines and Cherry Grove, has been taken over by glowing iPhone screens.
Look, we have a lot of problems in the gay community, probably too many for me to list in a short little blog post here, but this one really fascinates me. Can we blame Grindr for the decline of gay socialization? I mean, I go to gay bars quite a bit and I don’t see a lot of guys conversing with each other on their phones. Perhaps it’s internet culture as a whole that has ruined it for all of it. Take, for example, how the stigma of online dating has nearly been eradicated in the last few years. It’s perfectly normal at this point to have a meet-cute and, hell, a first few dates on OKCupid.
You know what you can’t do on Grindr? Dance to Madonna. Come on, gays: there’s a reason why we still need the gay bars. Don’t let Grindr ruin it for us.