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He might even recognize him from his profile photos walking down the street, or in the audience of, say, a recent panel about digital content by and for the queer community.Far from keeping queer men on the fringes, these apps are fueling a novel knowingness among users—on the app, yes, but also offline, when users go out to create and engage with open communities.With open events and publications, these companies get to put their brands on a wider variety of gay connections.And, in doing so, the likes of Grindr, Hornet, and Scruff are re-creating queer sociability in significant ways.Especially for people who might be deeply closeted or marooned in bigoted communities, these services offer keys for investigating what may initially seem like errant feelings of homosexuality.
Grindr isn’t the only gay app getting in on the rebranding game.
Petersburg–based gay rights group, worked together at the height of the crackdown in April to distribute updates, as well as a hotline number and email addresses for aid and evacuation assistance, via the app.
It’s difficult to know whether the outreach had much impact on the ground.
The companies are activating their networks for political action, too.
Earlier this year, Grindr users might remember seeing in-app notifications about targeted violence against gay men in Chechnya.