LBGT individuals from Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica and Uganda give personal accounts of their app experiences in a country where it’s illegal or taboo to be gay.
Open Grindr in London and you’re presented with a grid of eligible men, mostly looking for hook-ups. Open the app in Beirut and you’re more likely to see headless torsos, as few are willing to publicly out themselves. In Tokyo, oddly, dozens of users have replaced their profile pictures with images of food, since many dislike showing their faces online but have large image folders of meals they have photographed.
Dating app use differs between cultures, but nowhere is the difference in Grindr more stark than the 72 countries wherein same-sex activity is illegal. The app can be a positive force in those societies, helping to build LGBT communities in places where there are no safe spaces to congregate. But it can also be dangerous – a hotbed for catfish, thieves and undercover police, creating a society in which sharing a photo of your face can get you jailed. (more…)