The Best Gay Dating & Hookup Apps of 2014: Reviews & Advice
There are three aspects to gay dating apps that can make the experience feel like a massive cyber circle jerk. 1) You see a lot of the same guys on all the different platforms. 2) Every geosocial app is loaded with bitchy profiles where guys list all the things they’re not looking for without a word about what they desire. 3) There is an endless rabbit hole of headless, bare torsos.
With some of these apps you can almost smell the blow job breath through your smartphone. Other apps try to clean it up a bit so they can pass as a gay dating app not just a hook-up bathhouse. Either way, homo hook-up apps are the gay background music of our time, and here are six of the standout tracks:
Gay Dating App #1: Gay.com
Whoa – talk about a blast from the past! Upon discovering that the venerable Gay.com launched a new mobile dating/hook-up app in September, I couldn’t help but think of those recent commercials urging folks to check out the revamped MySpace. The app is billed as an extension of the computer version of “the world’s original and most recognized LGBT social networking site,” which may be true, but has anyone logged onto Gay.com via a computer in the last five years?
To my delightful surprise, I was thoroughly impressed by what I saw once I registered. Maybe it was the soft blue background or that (like Grindr) the thumbnails are larger than on most apps, but there was something refreshing about returning to the Gay.com franchise.
The app is still fresh enough to have that new condom smell (no offense intended to the scent of used rubbers). Of course you come across some profiles that you see active on EVERY site 24/7 (with the SAME photo that’s at least eight years old), but I also came across guys who had me wondering where they’ve been hiding. There were a surprising number of teenagers and guys in their early 20s on what I considered a retro platform, and a diversity of guys that could resurrect the once-iconic brand. However, it hasn’t been the easiest site for me to find tricks on. The comparatively lower number of guys who have downloaded the app can create quite a distance between you and the “nearest” hotties, and my early experiences reminded me of being in a Gay.com chat room.
The Scene: The app is too young to have solidified its identity, and determining what guys are looking for is made more difficult by many, many guys not bothering to fill out their profile. Based on my experience, the app has earned a PG-13 rating, with flashes of flesh and sexual propositions, but many more selfies that would be safe to share with Aunt Roxy.
The Dudes: The youth presence is worth mentioning again, although most of the members are probably old enough to have had Gay.com 1.0 profiles. A strong diversity of guys in all of the categories that count, and what seemed like a noteworthy number of Asians compared to other apps (although I do live near Georgia Tech).
The Boner: The app offers extensive search options, allows guys to browse without their GPS location being revealed, and is new enough to have less clutter between you and the guy(s) of your wet dreams. Gay.com also allows members to “Like” each other’s pictures, which is a nice, casual middle ground of flirting between “Woof/Smile/Poke” and sending a message loaded with the awkwardness of “Hot pic, wanna fuck?”
The Buzz Kill: The “Wave.” I’ll let you take a poke at what it is. By far the Achilles heel of Gay.com is the money-grab the apps makes, not even allowing guys to see who viewed their profiles without ponying-up for a premium account.
Gay Dating App #2: Grindr
If gay hookup apps were plotted as a scientific web graph, Grindr would be the nucleus from which all other apps sprout. In more colloquial terms, it’s the sperm that started the family tree.
It speaks to our quick-pace society that in four short years, Grindr has gone from a revolutionary taboo to being the granddaddy of mobile hook-up options. Remember how sleazy this app seemed when it introduced us to GPS-based booty calls, with a name that many adult gay men considered too naughty for their sensibilities? Now it’s as casual a gay meeting space as Starbucks or the bathroom stalls in a nightclub, and creating a Grindr profile has become as much a rite of passage as getting a driver’s license.
However, its popularity is its most fatal flaw. Just as it damages your psyche to see your Aunt Roxanne post semi-nude selfies on Facebook, it’s a major boner killer to be cruising for a hook-up and come across your neighbor or co-worker’s profile. I may know that my Human Resources manager plays for the same team, but our interactions are a bit more awkward once I know that he takes pictures from deceptively flattering angles, and describes himself as a “stone cold bitch who loves hard drinking, big dicks, and trouble.”
The Scene: Grindr has quickly established itself as the cyber community center of its generation. Sure, it’s easy to sneak off to a corner of the community center and make-out, but many guys logon to Grindr to simply people-watch, flirt and to ambiguously chat with strangers.
The Dudes: Main Street gays. It attracts everyone from barely legal twinks to retired-but-not-expired daddies. There are muscle studs and party boys, alterna-queers and clean cut Log Cabin Republicans, all of whom have the same frustratingly vague description of themselves and their desires.
The Boner: A system upgrade this fall introduced a variety of new features to Grindr, including allowing guys to link to their other social media accounts such as Twitter and Instagram. The app is also generous with its options for describing oneself via its “Tribes” feature, as well as letting guys specify whether they’re looking for friends, a relationship or “right now.”
The Buzz Kill: Grindr is not as generous with the number of profiles it displays without upgrading to the paid version, showing only the 100 people closest to you. However, Grindr’s prudish photo policy is its lamest feature. You’re a gay hookup app whose name is GRIND’R, for God’s sake! If I wanted to look at G-rated pics of hot guys I can troll Facebook and Christian Mingle.
Gay Social Network App #3: Jack’d.
What’s up with gay geosocial apps missing letters in their names? Did they not have enough money to buy those additional vowels?
Jack’d has quickly established itself as the “urban” Grindr, whose menu seems limited to vanilla at times. Alright, enough with the euphemisms: mainstream white guys tend to use Grindr, and Jack’d is more popular with mainstream blacks. The gay community can sometimes be squeamish about manifestations of apparent segregation, such as the discomfort that many express at the very concept of Black Gay Pride festivals.
But it’s idealistic to think that online social networks would be more diverse than our real-world circles, or that someone who prefers hip-hop music would go to a country-music hoedown. That doesn’t make Grindr an oppressive app, or Jack’d an example of self-segregation among blacks and other minorities. It’s simply important to recognize the layout of the dating market so that if you’re shopping for apples and oranges, you’re not looking in the dairy section.
The Scene: The app is loaded with ads about guys looking for more than a hook-up, but its reputation (and primary function) is to do what grown men do.
The Dudes: In case you missed it, Jack’d is the go-to dating app for black gay men, although all ethnicities are welcome and present. Being the mainstream app for many gay minorities, you’ll see the same wide diversity of life stages and interests as you would on Grindr – from guys searching for love, to those looking for the nearest nut.
The Boner: Jack’d has a liberal photo policy, allowing not only nudes as profile pics, but action shots as well. This makes basic cruising more stimulating than looking at an ocean of head and torso pics, and allows guys to more explicitly express what type of connection they’re looking for.
It also has a “Nearby Places” feature that lists clubs, restaurants and other potential first-date spots that are in proximity.
The Buzz Kill: When creating a profile, Jack’d offers an insultingly limited number of options for what “Scene” you’re checking out. There is no middle ground between “Strictly Friends” and “LTR,” and the classifications of “Twinks,” “Bears” and “Bi/Straight-curious” seem tone deaf to its primary clientele. The app also includes a “ Worldwide” setting that is prominently featured but utterly useless. When prowling for nearby dick and ass, no one wants their inbox filled with random people who live hundreds or thousands of miles away.
Gay Social Network App #4: Scruff
I couldn’t make it through the first five minutes of Scruff before I pulled my pit bull into my lap for a little assistance. The first three messages I got were “Woofs” – but as much as I love doggie-style, I’m not fluent in Canine-ese. Thankfully, Scruff is loaded with pop-up guideposts that help you navigate the app, which informed me that “Woofs” were akin to “a poke on Facebook.”
Oh great, you took the most annoying part of the most popular social network and made it the centerpiece of your app. Forgive my harshness, but online dating is generic and impersonal enough without lazy flirtations such as “Woofs,” “Smiles” and “Pokes.” I asked my pit bull, Daisy (yes, I have a male dog named Daisy), how I should respond, and he said, “Arf.”
Daisy’s also got a nose for dog shit, and he started howling like a bitch in heat when I tried to upload my photo and was blasted with a red warning: “If you upload nude photos, we will be forced to PERMANENTLY DELETE your profile.” The Scruff honchos shift the blame to Apple Store policy, but Daisy barked, “DOG SHIT!!!” There are a gazillion apps that do not conform to said policies (just ask the NSA, or check my mobile history), yet gay cruising apps tend to adhere to these prohibitions like straight-A students at an all-girl Catholic school. It’s the equivalent to adult bookstores enforcing the “One Person Per Booth” or “No Loitering” neon signs.
The Scene: The niche element of Scruff makes it a little more hedonistic than mainstream apps like Grindr, meaning there’s more shirtless pics and guys can be a little more honest in what they’re looking for (without the worry that their gay boss will stumble across their profile).
The Dudes: Scruff is marketed as a place for muscle studs, bears and other grimy fetishes of gay masculinity, and the app is loaded with guys who fit those prototypes. And there are a lot of guys who you see on Grindr, but who wouldn’t be caught dead in the backroom of the gayborhood leather bar.
The Boner: Despite my general disappointment in the tameness of an app that caters to the underbelly of gay culture, Scruff has some of the best features of any gay mobile hookup product. It lubes connections by allowing members to rate their level of interest in the profiles they check out, provides delicious eye candy with its “Most Woofed” feature, and celebrates committed-but-non-monogamous relationships by allowing partners to link to one another’s profile.
There’s also an option to cruise anonymously, meaning you can avoid the awkwardness of checking out your best friend and ex, or accidentally tapping the profile of an online stalker.
The Buzz Kill: Its absurd “Global” option is featured even more prominently than the one on Jack’d (who the hell wants to chat with someone thousands of miles away on a geofuck site?”), and the best filters and tracking are only available to Scruff Pro subscribers.
Gay Hookup App #5: Manhunt Mobile.
Ahhh! There’s nothing sweeter than logging onto a gay hookup app and being virtually smacked in the face with a big ass dick! Aaahh, and that booty bursting out of a jockstrap has got my stomach growling and my jeans tenting! Wait, did I really just lick my cell phone screen?
Leave it to a vintage queen like Manhunt to show these new-age gay apps how it’s supposed to be done. Anytime I enter Manhunt’s mobile feature (which is technically not an app), I literally see a pic of a guy with his face down and ass up, visually begging to be pounded by the nearest dick (OK, so my roommate is a slut). And guess what: he seems to be near some pretty big dicks, as I count nine cock shots in the first 20 profiles displayed.
Within minutes I see profile pictures of guys giving head, stroking their meat and taking dildos balls-deep in their ass – and there’s little pretense of “not on here to look for sex” that you find in the profiles on so many apps that are supposedly designed to make sexual connections.
I can already hear all the uppity gays crying, “These profiles are shameful” and “There’s more to me than my dick and ass.” I have no doubt many gay guys are profoundly fascinating, morally upright individuals who it would be a pleasure to get to know … in bed! Save your dignity for Facebook – otherwise it’s face down, ass up!
The Scene: It’s all about the fucking on Manhunt, which is a bit ironic considering that the computer version of the site once succumbed to the “respectability” complex that now plagues outlets like Grindr and Scruff. Don’t bring your heart with you to Manhunt, or it is sure to be covered in spooge.
The Dudes: Throwbacks and holdovers. Hardly anyone under 25 has probably even heard of the Manhunt mobile version, as they’ve all been weaned on Grindr precum, and much of Manhunt’s clientele has migrated to newer apps as well.
The Boner: The uninhibited photo policy on Manhunt mobile makes it standout from all competitors, as well as the unlimited number of profiles that can be displayed. If going full monty isn’t your style, you may enjoy the other extreme of disabling the tracking function to cruise stealthily.
The Buzz Kill: Manhunt is one of the only gay mobile hook-up options that limits the number of messages you can send and receive without updating to the paid version, which has become grossly overpriced given the general exodus from the site. What used to cost you $7 to view hundreds of guys in your area now costs that same amount to view a few dozens guys. Meaning Manhunt’s Price-per-Dick index is going the wrong way.
Gay Dating App #6: Adam 4 Adam Radar.
Another relic of the Dark Ages when gay men used to have to rely on land-based, plug-in technology to arrange booty calls, Adam4Adam seems to have held up a little better than Manhunt, particularly in terms of retaining active members. Whereas Manhunt mobile may show half a dozen guys within a one-mile radius of you, the gayborhood always seems to be vibrant on A4A Radar.
The A4A Radar system is very similar to what cruisers are used to on the computer version of A4A, meaning there’s little training that guys have to undergo before they’re underneath a fellow horny stud. The obvious difference between the desktop and mobile versions of A4A is how all of the smutty pictures on the computer version are replaced by grey “Adult Photo” icons on A4A Radar. Yet, the aggressive censorship of images has done little to tame the hedonistic nature of the Adam4Adam brand.
In the short time it took me to write these first two paragraphs alone, I’ve had three guys offer to suck me dry, and a “vers/top” let me know he wants to be gangbanged. It’s a revealing snapshot that “legacy” apps like A4A Radar and Manhunt remain more explicitly sexual than geosocial apps like Grindr and Scruff, as a new wave of decency sweeps over gay men hoping to be seen as husband material.
The Scene: Still a cyber glory hole, as evidenced by the potential ease of getting sucked dry. Oftentimes my cell phone screen has more “Adult Photo” icons than visible pictures, offering a good indicator of the slut-to-boy-next-door ratio.
The Dudes: Like its traditional website, A4A Radar maintains a remarkable diversity – and not in the euphemistic sense. It’s truly a safe and welcoming space for horn dogs of every age, ethnic and body type demographic.
The Boner: Adam4Adam continues to be an industry leader with its search functions – allowing queries by distance and location; all the standards like age, ethnicity and sexual role; but the crown jewel is the option that lets you search for guys by dick size. The available range stretches up to 20 inches, which might be based on a curve, since most 3-inch guys claim to be packing 8.5.
The Buzz Kill: The aforementioned “Adult Photo” icons are such a tease when you’re jonesin’ for an orgasm, as no one enjoys tapping on blind profiles. It’s like being in a darkroom orgy and waving your arms in front of you hoping to find a hard dick. Oh yeah, and “Smiles” still suck ass – and not in the good way.