I have received this blog from a young man in his early twenties who has reached out to me with concerns for young boys being groomed on apps like Grindr.
I am aware that some people will not agree with what he is saying however I am publishing it as I believe that all children should be protected from predators irrespective of their sexuality and I agree that there needs to be more safe spaces available for children questioning their sexuality.
At the end of the day, for some of these children, their parents are not on their ‘safety team’ and they have nowhere to turn. Education is essential to protect all children.
Something that is really significant within the LGBTQIA+ community that is rarely spoken about are the ‘safe spaces’. There is a very fine line when it comes to safe spaces for people ‘in the closet’ (people who aren’t openly out or are confused) to find support or guidance within the community. Even for those who have come to terms with their sexuality, these spaces aren’t necessarily helpful.
In schools there isn’t enough education or ‘support’ for children struggling with their sexuality and peers are naturally uneducated so if a child cannot turn to their parents, there isn’t a safe space to discuss these issues.
As a result, some children tend to turn to spaces online. This may sound reasonable, but this is not a safe space. From someone who is openly gay, I can honestly say that turning to online forums/ chat rooms is never a good idea for someone so young or someone who is struggling with their sexual orientation.
Let’s put this into perspective. Grindr. I’m sure you’ve heard of this ‘gay dating app’. It isn’t however a dating app; it’s only marketed that way. The app is a casual sex finder for queer individuals. There’s no age verification, no moderation, or any safety measures one can use. In this app you set up a profile and create a bio and state your age. Once this is completed, you start getting ‘taps’ and people begin messaging you.
Now this is where it gets traumatising for someone of a young age. It is very VERY common to receive unsolicited ‘dick pics’ from men over the age of 40. The predators using this app are notorious for grooming young, confused boys and are extremely perverted, hyper-sexualised and confronting. They use foul language and manipulative behaviour. I never heard any warning of the app Grindr as an adolescent. I only joined once I turned 18 and experienced the horrors of the app. I received BDSM pictures within minutes from 40+ year old men. The boys in the pictures looked around 18, but who knows? These men only want one thing. Sex. From anyone who can provide it. They want dominance, they want control, they want power, and they seek this from inexperienced and or uneducated boys.
Anyone under the age of 18 should not go near this app. Grindr is not the place. So, what’s the solution?
Education. There needs to be more in-depth teaching about sexuality, so children aren’t left wondering off towards the dark side of the internet. I am beyond grateful for my mother who made sure my internet usage was managed, because if not, I probably would’ve ended up being scarred and various aspects of my personal sexual development would’ve been stunted or tainted. We need to ensure this doesn’t happen to our children. Parents must have discussions about inclusivity and individuality with their children.
Honestly, I do not care if you support the LGBTQIA+ community. You decided to have children. You must love them unconditionally. You have a duty of care. You cannot leave your child to wander off into such dark and horrifying places. Everyone regardless of their sexuality deserves to be protected from such confronting spaces. This is where education is flawed. We need more inclusive, sexually diverse, sex education.
To protect our children.