Scruff Your Way to Queer Space with your iPhone Athame.

My Dick Pic Familiar and Me

Part 2: SPACE

Last time we ‘talked’ I began speaking about my relationship to my dick pic, re-articulating it as my witches familiar in the first step towards reclaiming my relationship to my sexualized sense of self and my body. Today I’d like to continue that conversation specifically looking at the production of queer space.

This is not what I look like on the subway. But um yeah go at it bois.

This is not what I look like on the subway or (IRL). But um yeah go at it bois.

I’m sitting on the M train still, it’s delayed in that no-man’s land between stations and Lion27 and I are still chatting. He really is rather cute, and he’s made several jokes that actually have got me semi-hard. You know that awkward ‘I feel like I’m 13 and just got a semi-boner on the bus’ sort of feeling, where you look around and wonder if everyone knows. No one knew. But I could feel myself blush, my face flushed, the fabric of my jeans tightening in the crotch.

I love these moment when I am semi-publicly digitally cruising. (or just cruising in general) It’s the rush. How the sexual seems to come cascading in and around you from the ether till it saturates everything. My sense always feel heightened, I begin to actually pay attention to the smells around me. I find myself correcting my posture, cracking my neck, tightening my stomach. Plus he’s doing that cute sub-bottom boi thing that makes me want to simultaneously devour his soul through his ass and cuddle him. Needless to say I have decided, once this train starts moving to go over.

While we were chatting he sent me a screen shot of a map with his house pinned… clever boi, he’s done this before, I don’t even need to type his address into my google. And as I looked at the map, my mind continued to wander, to think about maps in general… space in general… specifically my position in space.

I began to imagine a little red line of lust, floating through the ether, from my phone to his, weaving us together. As we chatted other messages came in. Other men, in other places, some as far as the San Fran to Perth, also messaging me. Sending me anything from photos of their cocks to the casual SUP. Their I was on an M train at 3 am, but it was beginning to take on the character of a good cruisy gay bar. Alone, headphones on, unplugged from the reality of my present physical vicinity, I was finding myself flitting through a series of conversations with a bundle of intriguing men. In turn I too sent photos of my familiar, until my imagination spun it into a dense web of digital connectivity, red desire lines pulsing through the city, its queer veins.

Mostly I feel like this in Gay Bars. I'm rather bad at flirting, I get very confused and I end up saying exceptionally awkward things. I'm learning to deal with it.

Mostly I feel like this in Gay Bars. I’m rather bad at flirting, I get very confused and I end up saying exceptionally awkward things. I’m learning to deal with it.

Our phones ability to change our experience of space, specifically our sexual experience of space, fascinates me. See if my dick pic is my familiar, then perhaps my iPhone is better understood as an Athame. Today I’d like to specifically talk about how gay sex apps on my iphone/athame enable me to re-write and recode space. In a quite literally way these apps enable me to cut space-time and produces moments of intimate connection with people variously distant from me. YASSS modern Witchcraft.

Traditional tools are meant to be upgraded.

Traditional tools are meant to be upgraded.

See for me, sexting, specifically through location-based apps, is an intriguing way to challenge and reform space. Why? Because in the abstract, sex apps allow us to make any space, ‘gay erotic space’. In bathroom stalls, or office halls, or other traditionally coded hetero-normative spaces, I can use an app to broadcast my location and thus, make visible to those who are capable of seeing my spell, (a 6 pixel image of my face) networks of queer/gay desire. No longer do I need to go to specific physical locations, like gay bars in order to ‘broadcast’ my sexuality. I can do so from my phone. While sitting in a traditionally coded straight Starbucks in Midtown for instance I can also be involved in dialogues with horny men, exchanging images and promises of future pleasure.

I no longer walk in a world that is ‘straight’ till I escape into the welcome arms of a gay bar, or bathhouse, everywhere is becoming gay. Tinged with the potential of digital cruising.

Furthermore entire screens of men, shift from strangers, to ‘regulars’ over time. These are the men I live near, who I work near, who I see daily when I open one of these apps. They are becoming and have become part of my expanded queer friendship circle. Yes there is an awkward moment when a conversation slides from the digital to the physical unexpectedly. Such as when I run into the guy whom I just texted a photo of my ass to in the cereal aisle of Mr. Kiwi’s. But there is a simple magic to it that I revel in, it helps us as queer people see ourselves everywhere. We are everywhere. We come in every shape and size and form, and digital apps help us to become visible to one another. We Are Not Alone! I also like that I can meet men, virtual strangers, and have already shared with them images of my naked body. I feel as if we have a special sort of connection, a knowing of each other that is deeper then just a casual glance. I like this.

Particularly I revel in how all space, has become spaces where I as a gay man can ‘encounter’ queer forms of digital desire. I would argue that unexpectedly digital technologies and apps such as Gridr, while inevitably hurting the creation of ‘physical’ queer and gay culture in many ways, has offered a massive proliferation of desires. Traditionally, gay bars and cruising zones were ‘gay spaces’ as they stood outside of heteronormative frameworks, had their own networks of communication, their own rituals, rites, and forms of cultural exchange. I love these rites and rituals and bemoan their loss, but rather then cry over the decay of past structures I am seeking here to find joy or inspiration in new modalities of communication. (we can also totally cry later and figure out how to reclaim/produce radical queer space.)

One of My favorite gay bars in London recently closed. It was a sad day for all.

One of My favorite gay bars in London recently closed. It was a sad day for all.

Now thanks to Gridr and Scruff I can make every space gay and cruise within it. That’s some 21st century magic for a collective of people who have been oppressed for generations. We are queering the world. Everywhere I go through the spell of an app and a dick of a familiar, I can transport myself into a magical gay world, filled with desire and longing. Scruff or Grindr to a Faggot Witch Faerie such as myself, is a locator spell, helping me seek out like-minded individuals for entertaining experiences. I use it when I travel to make friends, find bars, discover which club I should be going to. It has numerous applications beyond just the basic finding a willing sex partner. Thats part of its magic to me, it creates complex networks of connectivity.

To me the nearest gay is never more then a login away +/- 78 feet. It’s amazing how not lonely that makes me feel. When I was young, growing up in rural New York, the gay world felt so intangibly far away. Not only was I socially awkward, overweight, and not particularly attractive, which rendered me all but invisible to the few kids my age I suspected may be gay, but beyond them there just did not even seem to be anyone near me that fell into the category of gay. There were no guys on the streets in my town, there were no bars, there were no cruising zones, it was a desert of homosexuality.

I would later learn I was wrong about all of this, and that I in fact grew up in an town overflowing with Faggots, but the thing is I had no way of seeing them. They were hidden to me. I lacked the awareness to pick up on their social queues, to read their bodies and stances for the traces of their queer identity. What these dating/sex apps do is reveal the queer/gay that is present in those unexpected places. (Thank you Scruff for that unexpected rest-stop diner, or airport bathroom moment.)

I remind myself of this when ever I am in rural America. Most often what happens when I am in rural country towns is that younger men (18-22) contact me wanting to know what life is like in the city. What being gay is like in the big city. It is moments like this were Scruff and Grindr become magical tools for changing peoples perspective. So often these young men remind me of the person I was when I lived in the country side. Their feelings of desolation and being cut off from a community are tangible. Yet we have the opportunity to talk with these people about life inside gay/queer communities. How I would have relished this advice, even coming from a stranger when I was 18.

I often talk with these ‘kids’ about the hardships of city living sure, but I also let them know that they really are spaces and places that exist within the physical realm where people are not hounded and insulted for their desire. I think about this often when I go home to visit my folks and am contacting by a bevy of disembodied torsos, asking me if I wanna meet and if I can be discrete. I’ve never really understood this. No I’m not particularly discrete. But then again I’m not going to go around town pasting up screen grabs of your profile on telephone poles. I see no shame in my desire, and rarely if ever meet these men, for honestly I feel that our sex would be inflected by the cold edge of desperation, of self hate, and perhaps pity, and those are not the emotions I want to embody during the sex act. But what I do instead is try and talk to them about why they feel they need to be discrete. Most people have a reason, my job, my family, my friends, and while I hear that, I like to try and encourage these people to perhaps consider life outside of the closet. To talk with them about my journey, to discuss support structures they might want to find, ect… Here is where I find Scruff and Gridr to have a secondary form of quasi-magical connection. We can use these technologies for their non-intended purposes to not just connect and fuck strangers, but to create queer communities.   

Yet what most people say when I speak to them about these apps is how bad it makes them feel. How disappointed in themselves. That they message people, or send people ‘woofs’ and never receive a response. To them this moment where they are brushed off or ignored by some one they desire actively hurts them. I see this in part because the people who are not responding believe that they occupy a more desirable social/physical position and don’t need to respond to someone that they think is ‘beneath’ them. It has to do with the ‘space’ they believe they occupy in the social hierarchy.

We must start by seeing each other as fellow peoples/faeries/unicorns/witches and greeting one another with respect. We can do this in part, I think, by intentionally using apps like gridr and scruff to foster gay/queer community that includes and moves beyond the sex act. I mean sure we should also continue to have amazing and liberated sex thanks to sex apps. But we need to learn to share our bodies, our stories our skills with one another in dialogues of exchange and gifting rather then commodification. How do we meet each other as people rather than as object we desire and covet.

It begins I think by having a conversation on the etiquette of using one of these apps. If you are going to spend your time on it, watching messages fly into your mail box, and deleting all the ones that come to you from men whom you don’t physically desire, you are part of the problem. Sure the sheer volume of messages can get overwhelming, but at the end of everyone of those sup, hellos, hiyahs, is an actual person.

I wonder what the world would look like if we used location based gay sex apps to also foster and create community. What if we invited each other over to dinner when we have cooked to much, or skill shared, or ask each other for help when we need it. What if we used these tools of connectivity to actually connect.

We could create networks, and neighborhoods of queer community. I’d like to say I do this. I don’t. Not as much as I should anyway. I think I’m writing about it in part because I want to inspire myself to do it. I want to name my intention to begin actively using scruff as a way to foster queer/gay space. I want to invite over all the men who show up on my ‘Nearby’ list to come over and have cups of tea with me this winter. I want to throw mixers. Sure I hope I fuck or am fucked by many of those guys, but ultimately my desire is to strengthen queer community so that I feel even more supported, more seen and more visible. I guess I will report back at some point as to how this is working. But we have the tools to connect ourselves, we already are weaving ourselves together through lines and networks of desire, and I do imagine that much greatness could come from our connecting with one another in a physical space. 

Anyway, the above is not a fully fleshed out or entirely formed idea, I’m presenting it here as I want to start a conversation and I’m not sure exactly where it is going. But I think a first step is in exploring our relationship to our phone and seeing its potential for magick. Seeing how it can disrupt expected social conventions. I really planned to talk almost exclusively about capitalism this morning, but I got distracted, I guess I’ll write about that tomorrow.

Thanks for reading. Now go Queer some space.


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