An Ethnography of Grindr, Part 4: Getting Out

On Friday August 13, 2021, I revealed my homosexuality to my parents. I was also in the midst of a manic episode. In fact, I had been avoiding drama for 21 years – just to have the most drama I could have imagined. Even the cops were invited! Personally, this is the most gay shit I have ever heard.

Wait what?

To be honest, the idea for this project – using my experience to describe the literally crazy behavior of Grindr users – came as a surprise. I had thought about actor-network theory, a methodology that focuses on understanding reality through relationships. But in my consciousness, my parents had nothing to do with it. I wasn’t listening to them yet, but mostly because I didn’t feel like it was the right time. Anyway, I wasn’t worried that they would find out about this series, as they usually don’t google my name.

When I arrived at Stanford, I was hoping to meet more gay men than I had growing up in Texas. Still, the idea of ​​joining Grindr never crossed my mind, let alone having a ton of gay sex, let alone spreading it to the community at large. Since Part 1 seemed to resonate with people, I set out to research where it came from. In my head, I mapped out four parts in total that I imagined would “close the objective distance” of myself, challenging the assumption that the further away you are from something, the better you understand it.

In part 2, I talked about the actions of seeing and hiding, placing myself among this project as an ethnographer. In Part 3, I talked about standing among a multidirectional totem of categories on Grindr. For Part 4, my plan was to investigate my own reality through the uncertainties of my life. Even so, even though I had no history of mental health issues, my “hot girl summer” quickly turned into my “hypomanic girl summer”. Whoops!

Opening of my manic episode

At the beginning of August, I had the idea to go back to basics with part 4. (To be clear, I still don’t know anything about the sport.) I took some time to see people for spend all my time writing. I was locked in my room at EVGR, the building where I worked. Since I didn’t have a roommate and only a small handful of my friends were on campus during the summer, it was easy for me to go unnoticed.

Over the next few days, I stopped feeling the urge to sleep more than three hours a night. I also stopped feeling hungry, but instinctively grabbed liquids like chocolate almond milk in the dining room. If I tried to open up social media, I couldn’t process what I was seeing. At the end of the week, I submitted a 7,000 word article to The Grind, titled “EVERYBODY SHOULD GO FOR THERAPY,” which was ironic and totally unusable.

On August 13, I was well aware that something seemed different. I wondered if by writing about uncertainty I had deconstructed myself out of existence. In the middle of the afternoon, I sent a message to a friend that I felt dissociated. My friend, who has extensive experience in neuroscience research, replied that depression could be the culprit.

Am I depressed? thought my manic mind.

Fearing that I had discovered a depression that I had previously ignored, I called 911 and explained what my friend had told me. The operator, a female voice, started asking me a list of quick questions about myself. Presumably, she was measuring my relationship to reality. I told them precisely, like, “I’m a below average brown man and I’m gay!” “

Then she asked me if I was alone.

Shouldn’t I be? thought my manic mind.

Fearing that I would not be left unattended, I went out and locked myself out of my room, slipping my ID under the door. In retrospect, it symbolized surrendering my ego for what I was about to do. At this point, the operator decided that I did not need to be rushed to the hospital. She sent three cops, whom I met peacefully outside before hanging up. The cops and I gathered in a shady spot near the parking lot in front of EVGR.

Around this time, I got a FaceTime call from my parents. After a brief greeting I got more and more upset and said:

“I’M GAY!”

For the next few minutes, I almost involuntarily told them what I thought I should do. I was going so fast that I barely gave them time to react.

“We love you very much …” they began.

“Love is an action! I cut them, referring to actor-network theory. The cops around me, who had heard the whole conversation, nodded.

“I’m happy to answer questions, but I think I’ve said enough,” I said. After I hung up, I felt a buzz in my life, and no fear.

“I really like what you said to your parents,” said one of the cops. I met blue eyes that looked at me in amazement. “I haven’t heard anything like this for 20 years.”

“Everyone helped me get here, even the cops!” ” I told them.

For the next 40 minutes, the cops hung around me as I joked about campus life and asked them about their weekend plans. I have interacted with cops as an RA before. I had seen them panic a resident trying to regain control of the situation, compounding the crisis she was already in.

In the following days, my episode did not cause any “community disturbance” except within the community of healthcare professionals trying to assess me. I even continued to work as an RA and had conversations with residents, including several from the Stanford Daily. On Sunday morning I even rocked my manic ass for my Zumba students, and Stanford paid me!

In the summer, many residents told me that the EVGR looked like an asylum, especially with secluded rooms and automatic lights following you down the hall. I had never paid attention to the lights because they made me feel important. I was also thankful for having the space, as I was on track to relocate to campus five times in nine months due to last minute housing assignments. Yet I was so committed to my residents that I turned the building into my own asylum.

Wrap

To be clear, my parents are open-minded and we have a romantic relationship. But like many gay people, I had lived my life on two sides. On the one hand, I was a visible homosexual at Stanford, turning my vulnerabilities into a public sport, and the disgraced jester was the logo for the Grindr app. On the other hand, I was enjoying a family life where the disgraced court jester would be my future wife.

It’s nobody’s fault that I didn’t talk to my parents sooner. Anyway, maybe the pressure in my psyche between my two lives increased until I was * boom * manic. I also saw several medical professionals, each of whom was convinced that another such event is very unlikely to happen again. How can I say that a manic episode solved my problems, without saying that a manic episode solved my problems?

In noble terms, you could say that I got lost in uncertainty to the point of insanity, then found myself iteratively (how’s that for engagement?). But maybe I’ve found myself iteratively outside the closet my whole life. After all, like many queer people, I had to treat my gay identity as if it was a disease, shared on the basis of a ‘need to know’. Doesn’t that make us patients in the corporate hospital?

I take responsibility for my episode. Yet according to actor-network theory, this also emerged from every action around me, including the psychiatrists who eventually saw him and named him “maniac.” As for my own actions, I guess the cat is out of the bag! But if I have any ideas for Part 5, I’ll be sure to throw my laptop in the trash because one manic episode was enough to get the job done.

I am working on a book on the experiences of gay people with their families and the health care system. Do not hesitate to contact us if you wish to discuss!

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