I first created a profile on Gaydar in the early 2000s, not long after it started and available on desktop. I didn’t have a proper PC/Laptop but was using an internet box for access through my TV, a cheaper way to access the internet.
Throughout the 2000s and beyond I had this profile, regularly updating pictures and adding new content to make me more ‘dateable’! For me it was always a work in progress.
Yes, there were a few dates and ‘booty’ calls, but friendships were made. Sex was not even involved! I wonder if this is lost since the birth of the App based dating sites?
You see, back in the day (which was over a decade ago but now seems a lifetime to me) your Gaydar profile had content. It was like a mini Facebook profile. Come to think of it! I probably had more information on there than my current Facebook profile because I don’t want a work colleague knowing the type of guy that I am attracted to, or what I would do under the duvet (or outside!).
So it really could open a person up, because you generally (not always) had a picture. So in a gay fish pond like the Glasgow scene was in the 2000s, you were regularly bumping into people who’s profile was on Gaydar; because Gaydar was pretty much it at the time.
And the coffee date was a thing too. I became friends with someone on a series of them. We got on fine but it was quite clear from the start that friends was going to be our ‘hook-up’ and sex was pursued elsewhere.
Another guy who became a friend, we chatted online by message (waiting to here that noise indicating a new message) over a week or more. I liked his profile and that is how it started. Then we happened to bump into each other out and about. This is pre-2010 because a friend can date the last time I went clubbing as he was either just back or about to go on holiday. So it was that long ago. He reminds me of this a lot, but I tell him I still go out. I just like a bar where you can get a seat and not be crushed against someones sweaty chest in a nightclub.
So this guy, we started meeting up and developed a friendship over a number of years, regularly seeing each other and socialising. Sex was never involved but, if it had not been for Gaydar, I might never have noticed him or spoke to someone who was as interesting as he was.
Aside from me, Gaydar did offer an opportunity for others to meet and socialise. I don’t know if sex was involved but entering the chatroom for the area really felt like entering a gay bar at nineteen or twenty in the mid 1990s. You were suddenly the new person and were clocked. If you entered the Gaydar chat a lot in there already new each other and comments were made or you were hit upon by private chat requests.
Following the chat as it scrolled up I realised that this was a social space as an appendage to the pubs or saunas in the city. For many it was a point of contact with a community that, for reasons personal to themselves or location, they could not physically access the city scene. Or maybe only every once in a while, money or social situation dependent.
I would overhear a conversation in a toilet queue or words snatched near the bar (the best place to stand in one of the clubs was near the door so you could observe the clubbers arriving for the night). There would be talk about someone on Gaydar who had been in the chat, or a recognised face that had ignored someone’s online advance. They would be verbally dragged as they entered or were at the bar, waiting their turn for the barman to attend to them.
Nowadays, I’m rarely on the dating apps. They have become more succinct with the initial information. It really is about being direct. People don’t have time to make a listicle of what they like and don’t like. Gaydar has followed Grindr and the like into this world with an app that takes their traditional site into the new decade of online engagement. Guys don’t need to upload lots of extra pics because you can link to an Instagram account; just like the other apps.
For a certain demographic of gay/bi/MSM guys Gaydar was a milestone in connecting a homoculture instantly using the web. It has had to adapt but who in this world hasn’t? It might look similar now to the majority of the dating apps, but that formula works. The addition of a new community lifestyle page shows that even it is ever changing to keep relevant these days. Can friendships still be created. I’m sure they can. The homoculture world is good in some respects at that, perhaps an influencer on the straight world that relationships don’t always have to be confined.