I’m standing in Sydney icon The Columbian, alone. Looking dashing in my new boots and fitted shirt – I’m no Ryan Gosling, but I’m no Shermanator either – I look over my left shoulder at a handsome gaygle (a gaggle of gays) who were collaboratively engaging in some brief, but very apparent, eye sex with yours truly.

Suddenly they all turned away and stood in a close fuddle (a fag huddle). Assuming that their interest in me had faded, I looked elsewhere only to catch a glimpse of them talking to each other with iPhone at the ready.

It didn’t take me too long to realise what was going on. These guys, all in their 20s, wanted to know a little bit more about me. So instead of walking the lengthy two meters to their right to say hello, they spent 10 minutes on their smart phones trying to find my profile on Grindr.

It seems I’m always the one to take the lead, so I finished my Coke Zero and walked over to them.

“Isn’t anyone going to say ‘hello’ to me?” I joked with them.

We had a laugh together and the boys were lovely. One was a personal trainer, another worked in retail and others were in the corporate world. I asked them why they didn’t confront me sooner and allowed me to stand alone at the bar for so long. Sure as anything, they admitted that they were searching for me on Grindr.

How is it that these handsome and successful young professionals, who clearly need excellent communication skills within their working day, could not approach me to even say ‘hello’?

At age 19 I had a Gaydar profile and thought it was terribly risqué. Truth be told, I met an awesome guy on Gaydar when I was twenty-two and went on to have an eleven month relationship with him. But, it still made me uncomfortable knowing that I had met someone on the internet. This wasn’t made any easier by being surrounded with straight mates who would have next to no trouble meeting someone at the pub, at work, through a friend or at a general party or event.

“You’ll meet him”, “he’ll find you”, “it’ll happen when you least expect it” and “just be patient” were just some of the golden lines that my family and friends would deliver so easily. Though their intentions of comforting and consoling were heartfelt, the ultimate truth can only be realised by a gay man. That is, they have no fucking idea how hard it is.

As mentioned, my straight mates didn’t realise how hard it all was. I will never forget the time when Rob told me about a date he was being set up for by a friend. When Rob asked his friend why he thought there might be a spark between this prospective date and himself, the friend replied with “Well, uh – you’re both gay.”

Like nearly everyone in their 20s, I’ve been in relationships which I simply settled for. The reason why I have settled in the relationships is simple. They have passed the number one criteria on my prospective boyfriend list – Can I introduce this guy to my parents?

Six months later you realise you’ve committed to something with many, many more criteria boxes beyond the parent’s approval. In fact, you’ve entered into a questionnaire of empty tick boxes. Featuring check points such as eating unhealthily, stopping gym, laziness and I’ll fix it later.

I am blessed to have had these relationships. Loving, honest and (mostly) sincere experiences. But we all need to think ahead. Yes, I’m 28. I’m not sure how this happened so quickly, but it did. No, I’m not 58, but that does not mean I’m ‘young’ as so many comment. My dad was married with children at my age.

I moved to St Kilda to be closer to the ‘action’; to be able to jump on the tram or walk to a venue, to be closer to the ‘scene’ and start making friends again. But every new gay male I meet will tell me about a Grindr experience – usually of the casual sex variety. Well, if this little brown duck chooses not to use Grindr for instant sex and is too uncomfortable with sex-on-premises venues, it seems I’m fucked anyway.

Maybe it’s the opposite of what Carrie Bradshaw made me expect – “No Sex & the City”.

This blog is not a complaint about single life. Single life is truly fabulous. But I honestly assumed that the gay community was just a filtrated setup of the straight community. You go, you meet, you talk – doing the things we not only see in the movies, but actually do happen in real life.

Yes, I know cyber dating exists for the straight community, too. But the reasons are different. Surely.

In my experience, gay men are generally emotionally stunted. What heterosexual males are experiencing at age 16, gay guys aren’t discovering until they’re nearly 20. Now, in addition to this, we’ve become idle. Too lazy to even go to a pub (aka ‘public’), open our mouths and talk to people, resulting in a generation of young men who are shy, introverted, intimidated and most disturbingly, speechless.

Is Gen Y the Grindr Generation? Holy mother of Liza – we’re doomed!

This column is an excerpt from Drew Downing’s blog, Grindrless. You can read his full version and additional entries here.

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