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Yet their scope and reach in the queer community are hard to overstate.

This isn’t to suggest that having an out presence in public spaces is the only thing that matters for strengthening the community, especially when vulnerability often attends visibility.In many respects, this isn’t too different from the late 1990s, when online chatrooms cracked open a universe for curious queers that had previously been mired in mystery.What perhaps sets these new brands apart from their predecessors, then, is their push to expand the visibility of the queer community.For instance, one user might not know much about another offline, but he might know little things about him from having scrolled through his geotagged social media page.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.Dating apps for gay men don’t have the greatest reputation.From Grindr to Scruff, Hornet to Jack’d, the digital platforms are best known for dredging up flakey users, svelte-only fat-shamers, masc-4-masc femme-phobes, and it’s-a-personal-preference racists.Grindr for Equality, the app’s advocacy arm, and the Russian LGBT Network, a St.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.Grindr isn’t the only gay app getting in on the rebranding game.Scruff, which leans just a touch toward the “bear”—or husky, hirsute—crowd, has started helping host parties and Pride events across the planet.

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  1. Dating apps originated in the gay community; Grindr and Scruff, which. transactional pursuit of on-demand hookups like an Uber for sex.

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