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TikTok's Grindr Sound Prank Shows Queer Love is Fragile, Radical

Why is Grindr so triggering?
by Ara Eugenio
12 hours ago
Photo/s: Tiktok: @jinno.entry

Tiktok user Jinno Vicencio (@jinno.etry) was fresh into his first long term relationship when he decided to try a popular TikTok prank on his boyfriend called the "Grindr sound prank". Given the online dating app's popularity in the queer community, he thought he could make fun of his partner but failed after three attempts that did not elicit any response.

Turns out, his boyfriend had never used the app. 

"My sweet innocent boy," Vicencio had said at the end of the video, appearing to be amused and relieved. Though unsuccessul, Vicencio's video that was viewed over 1 million times tops that of hundreds of other users in same-sex relationships who also pulled the prank and managed to actually elicit a reaction from their partners.

@jinno.etry #prank#grindrsound #gay#lgbt #funny #gayprank #thatdidntworkout #viralprank ? SugarCrash! - ElyOtto

"Grindr notification sound seems to be a pretty well known audio in the queer community and the prank seemed to be low stakes, while still being suspenseful," he told reportr, explaining why he decided to participate.

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The trend may not be as relatable to those who do not belong to the community, but for those who are, its popularity speaks volumes about what it means to be in a homosexual relationship in today's app-driven dating landscape.

The thing about Grindr

For Kim (not his real name), the Grindr notification sound is "triggering" for gay people, especially those in monogamous relationships because of what the app primarily stands for in the community: a springboard for casual sex, or so-called "hook up" culture. 

"Once you hear that sound, iisipin mo agad na actively naghahanap 'yung person ng hook up kasi may kausap siya and may nagmessage. Hindi ko naman sinasabi na lahat, pero it's become na kapag may cheating incidents involving gay couples, usually through Grindr nangyayari," he said, noting this is due to the anonymity afforded by users on the platform. 

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While this also happens in other dating apps such as Bumble and Tinder and even on social media such as Facebook and Instagram, where couples in heterosexual relationships are also increasingly victimized by infidelity, Grindr's notoriety has something to do with highly nuanced experience of dating as a queer person. 

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"For sexual and gender minorities such as gay men, access to increasingly sophisticated communication technologies has afforded opportunities that traditional avenues have not, particularly in matters of sexuality," a study published by the Philippine Journal of Psychology has said. As opportunities to find one's community or articulate one's sexuality are largely non-existent elsewhere, in many ways, the internet and the advent of social media revolutionized the ability to explore sexuality and gender identity. Now, many are drawn to dating apps like Grindr, where to some extent, they can be just themselves or at the very least in most cases, explore who they might be. 

"Marerealize mo na 'Ah pwede pala ako sa mga ganito' or even sa sexual stuff, 'ah gusto ko pala yung ganito'. So nae-explore ko yung sexuality ko in that process of meeting people who are also just like me, still figuring themselves out," Kim, who identifies as nonbinary, said. 

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For Tim Valenzuela, also nonbinary, there's an irony to Grindr as an app that encourages people like them to be themselves: it's not entirely a safespace especially for effeminate individuals like him. "Kasi anonymous nga yung app, 'yung process of self-disclosure very tricky siya. Marami dun may 'preference' talaga as masculine-presenting gay, gusto nila masculine lang din yung makainteract."

"Mahirap in the first place ihain yung sarili mo sa mundo lalo na kung isa kang bading. Pero now, within the community mismo, may ganyang form of discrimination," he added. 


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The fragility of queer love

Online dating in general is a brand new experience for humans. While it has benefitted minorities like the LGBTQIA+ community, for whom seeking connections is traditionally harder especially in predominantly Catholic Philippines, it brought forth the so-called "paradox of choice", which explains why committing is hard these days. 

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"When you have an overwhelming amount of choice, you might feel like you can't make any choice at all," Logan Ury, a behavioral scientist who wrote the book "How to Not Die Alone" told Vox. "[You're] always wondering what else is out there. [You] want to understand all the possible people that you could date and then choose the best one but that's just not possible. You can't date every single person in your city, let alone every single person in the world. And so at a certain point, you just have to choose someone and make it work," he said. 

This couldn't be any more true for the gay community. Having been excluded from traditional notions of sexual behavior, "they’ve had to be trendsetters and forge their own relationship norms,” Michael Bronski, a Harvard gender studies professor told The Guardian. This explains why gay couples are leading the way in sexually progressive relationships, such as open ones.

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"For LGBT people, it’s harder to find love than 'straight' people. For a community that's so used to hiding and recently lang naging mas open, there’s that pressure to find that kind of love and at the same time, maintain it,"  Kim said, explaining why it's hard for those in monogamous setups to feel "settled" in their relationships. Even for those whose setup doesn't necessarily tie them to one partner, there are also rules to be abided to maintain that feeling of security. 

"So mas jumpy talaga to the possibility of being cheated on, because really, queer love is much more fragile. For straight people, at least there’s a traditional playbook telling you how you could make it work. But for us, wala," Kim said. 

"We’re all kind of exploring, trying to do the right thing but more often than not, while we try to do the right thing, nagkakamali pa rin. Maybe that's just how loving in general is—but it's harder for people like us," he said. 

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"Personally, choice ko na 'di nalang jumowa kasi alam ko gaano kahirap and gaano kadali mabasag. So I really admire those who put themselves out there. In the first place, being gay in a society like this is already a radical act. What more for those who bravely choose to love another."

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