Intimate Spaces and Queer Uses of Hook-Up Apps
“Grindr Killed the Gay Bar” is a common refrain to explain the perception that commercialized queer spaces are disappearing at a rate that coincides with the rapid growth of geo-social networking apps (GSNAs) like Grindr, Scruff, Bumble and Her, colloquially referred to as hook-up apps. As the popular theory goes, GSNAs have functionally privatized queer sociality, moving it from the public spaces of gay bars and gaybourhoods to digitally-mediated interfaces. While anecdotal evidence to this phenomenon abounds, little of it is based in sound empirical research. Moreover, the mythology of the death of the gay bar excludes the unique factors that affect the growth, development, and eventual death of lesbian and queer women’s spaces, many of which disappeared in North America long before the rise of GSNAs. If GSNAs cannot conceivably be blamed for the death of the lesbian bar because of their asynchronous temporality, then what role do GSNAs have in the contemporary development of queer women’s sociality and intimacy?
Drawing on the sociology of intimacy and a narrative analysis of interviews with queer-identified GSNA users, Prof. Petrychyn will explore the social effects of digitally-mediated queer intimacy. Rather than see these mediated forms of intimacy as existing within a narrowly defined private sphere, he will theorize them as sites of “intimate citizenship” where claims to community and belonging within the public sphere are continuously contested and negotiated.
Jonathan Petrychyn is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Gender, Sexuality, and Digitality at the University of Waterloo. His work looks broadly at sex and activism within media industries. His research has been published in the Canadian Journal of Film Studies, Senses of Cinema, and is forthcoming in TMG -- Journal of Media History.