Hookups Get Political
The infamous gay hookup app, Grindr, which has helped millions of gay, bisexual and bi-curious men "get together" around the world is now going political, according to a statement on the app’s official website.
Grindr’s officials have launched a program called "Grindr for Equality," which aims to "unite gay men across the country, make that voice grow louder and have a nationwide impact," Joel Simkahi, the app’s founder and CEO, said.
"We must elect not only a president but representatives and senators who are supportive of our community and our equality," Simkhai added. "Local elections have national impact, so we want to use Grindr as a tool for mobilizing and connecting gay men around the country to help make a combined national impact."
According to Grindr’s website, the app was first launched in 2009 and is "the largest and most popular all-male location-based social network." There are more than 4 million users in 192 countries and about 10,000 new users who download the app every day. Additionally, there are 1.5 million Grinder users in the U.S. alone.
Men who have that app, which is available on the iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerries, will start receiving geo-targeted political messages during the election season. The messages will mostly be about equality issues, politicians and will provide voting resources. The statement also notes that the campaign will also target "several swing states"
"All elections are won or lost on the local level," Simkhai said. "There is no election or town too small to have a gay voice. We’ll use Grindr to unite gay men across the country, make that voice grow louder and have a nationwide impact."
TIME reported that Grindr implemented a similar strategy in June when it alerted gay men in Saratoga County, N.Y., about a Republican state senator who did not support a marriage equality measure.
Simkahi talked with US News & World Report and said he feels that Grindr and himself have a "responsibility" to get into politics.
"I’m a big believer that a lot of people can do something small and get a very big impact," he said. "We simply don’t have the rights everyone else has."
But Clarke Cooper, the executive director of the conservative gay group Log Cabin Republicans, doesn’t seem to think much of the app’s initiative.
"Maybe I’m showing my age, but I didn’t know what [Grindr] was until one of our interns mentioned it this summer," Cooper told US News. "I guess this [initiative] is an extension of social media writ large... but I don’t know if this is just marketing, or if this is a financial incentive, or if they’re just doing it because they can."
Whatever the reason is, Grindr is still extremely popular -- at least during the Republican National Convention. US News points out that Grindr saw a 242 percent increase in traffic in Tampa when the event was being held.
Simkahi also told the news outlet that Grindir will asking its users to sign petitions or attend rallies and that the app will never ask for big donations.