Yet their scope and reach in the queer community are hard to overstate.
Since the 2009 launch of Grindr, the first and most ubiquitous of the set, gay dating apps have racked up north of several-dozen million users in some 200 countries (including Cuba! Grindr says that its users average 54 minutes on the app per day.
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.
From the French Alps to New Delhi, it’s encouraging revelers to use gayness as an entry point through which they can traipse to faraway places.
And it’s putting out more than just fluff by featuring topics such as the one-year remembrance of the Pulse nightclub shooting, the “resist march” at Los Angeles Pride, Ireland’s first openly gay prime minister, and the record levels of violence against LGBTQ people in 2016.
Grindr isn’t the only gay app getting in on the rebranding game.
These apps, on the one hand, still allow queer men the messiness of exploring our identities.
We can cruise furtively through rows of profiles, eking out a string of flirty chats or just going for some unembellished, anonymous sex.