why do we still think of all gay men as promiscuous?
On Newsnight last night, Evan Davis perpetuated the stereotype that behaving like gay men means seeking out multiple partners.
Yesterday's episode of Newsnight featured a report on Tinder's extraordinary Twitter rant at Vanity Fair, which was sparked by the magazine's recent article claiming the dating app is harming our chances of finding, y'know, long and meaningful relationships. Presumably concerned that a portion of the BBC Two audience might not know what Tinder is, presenter Evan Davis offered the following explanation: "For the uninitiated, Tinder is the biggest of a number of apps that allow straight people of any gender to behave like gay men. It's an easy hook-up service: you upload your profile and scroll through others to find someone to meet."
"It's love at first swipe," Davis continued. "Swipe left for the ones you don't like, swipe right for the folks you're interested in. And then if the feeling's mutual, you can message each other and take it from there."
Woah... is this supposed to be OK? Davis, an eloquent, successful and widely respected gay man, is perpetuating the stereotype that "to behave like gay men" means to seek out the "easy hook-up" over any other kind of romantic connection. In 2015, more than a year since the first same-sex marriages took place in England and Wales, this kind of sweeping generalisation should really be passé and frowned upon.
Of course, like most stereotypes, the idea that gay men "behave" this way isn't without some grounding in truth. Grindr, an app which has been downloaded more than 10m times worldwide, basically exists to facilitate the "easy hook-up" between gay and bi-curious men. But lots of gay men don't use Grindr - just like lots of gay men don't go cruising after dark on Clapham Common, spend their Saturdays splashing about at Chariots or hit the clubs night after night in pursuit of one-night stands.
I know gay men who pride themselves in their promiscuity, embracing it as part of their persona, and others who rack up just as many notches on their bedposts without being so brazen about it. I also know gay men who vocally reject this kind of licentious lifestyle, and some who might be, well, just a little bit frigid. The reality is that most gay men fall somewhere in between: maybe they enjoy the odd "easy hook-up", or maybe they enjoy lots of them, but it's not a defining personality trait or a convenient short-hand for the way in which they "behave".
Davis's suggestion that having a predilection towards casual sex is a quintessentially gay male trait is just as outmoded and reductive as claiming that being rubbish at football is a quintessentially gay male trait, or spending your weekends making quiche and listening to Kylie is a quintessentially male trait. Gay men don't behave in one particular way, they never have - nor do gay women or straight people. The only thing that people pursuing "love at first swipe" have in common is some kind of smartphone in their pocket.
Text Nick Levine
Photography Denis Dervisevic