Exploring Grindr and the spaces of his mind in New Delhi

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a blank Grindr profile belonging to a horny top must be in want of a willing bottom. Picture this: New Delhi, India, some time in July 2018. My chubby, pimpled cheeks flushed pink with excitement and terror in equal measure. After years of searching, crying, pining and sexting, I was finally going to lose my virginity. Yes, my friends, I had met a boy — let’s call him Timmy!

Timmy was 24 — 6 years older than me — and identified himself as a “sapiosexual.” When a guy calls himself a sapiosexual it means that, 9 times out of 10, he forced himself to wait a generous 23 minutes before blessing you with a hazy photo of his lacklustre little friend. Plus, when he did send it, it was taken at such an odd angle that the only part of your body throbbing was your neck because you had to twist it around so much you ended up with osteoarthritis. Our conversation lasted for around 10 minutes before Timmy asked if I wanted to meet up. Up until this point, we had merely been exchanging pleasantries, but then I discovered that he lived in my housing complex. I knew instinctively that he was The Chosen One. You know that feeling that animals get when they sense a hurricane coming? That was how I felt, if you added some extra dollops of dread.

Now, I know what you may be thinking: “Aditya, do you mean to tell us that you lost your virginity to a guy you barely knew, who you met on an app and was six years older than you? Didn’t you want your first time to be with someone you cared about?”

And to that, I say:

1. Yes. Believe it or not, being Queer in a homophobic country sometimes requires you to risk your safety to be able to live your life. Who knew?!

2. No. If I wanted to find a husband, I wouldn’t look on Grindr until I had ruled out every possible chance of a meet-cute in each of my classes — and believe me, I tried and tried … and tried.

Once we confirmed the brief encounter, I proceeded to get myself ready. I won’t go into the nitty-gritty details, but I must inform you that no amount of research on “how to perform an enema” could have prepared me for the sheer physical and mental exhaustion. I still unfailingly clench up whenever I look at any bathroom floor. I remember thinking, “This guy better have the greatest stroke game in New Delhi. Or at the very least, strawberry-flavoured lube and a comfy mattress.”

Cut to me, standing outside his front door. I was wearing a plain red t-shirt — a size larger than my others so that my belly was protected — and shorts that covered my flabby thighs, allowing the cool air to sharply cut at my bare arms and legs. I was beginning to have second thoughts. Is this going too fast? Will I be good? What if he thinks I’m too plain or too brown or too fat? My thoughts were interrupted when Timmy opened the door. He gave me a sheepish smile and whispered, “Hi. We need to be quiet, my grandmother is in the next room. Sorry.”

He went on to give some explanation, but I wasn’t listening. Even as we walked to his room, I was looking. At his face, round and cocoa brown. Even in the dark, his smile shone brightly. I remember wanting to climb inside of his mouth, nestle against his molars and let him crush me. I observed the inside his house, walls plastered with photos of him and his family. Around his bedroom, populated with rumpled sheets and open books. I was in unfamiliar physical territory, but I could recognize the space of his mind: the tiptoeing, the secrecy, the whispers in corridors for fear of being caught. We both knew we would never speak of what would happen to any other living soul. He looked at me and smiled. I wanted him desperately.

We kissed while undressing each other, his forceful tongue betraying the calmness of his demeanour. We were very fast in shucking off all of our clothes — what was the point in wasting time? He kissed me along my neck and took my body into his coarse hands. I could hear him chuckle at how my breathing was growing shorter. My arms remained firmly crossed across my belly. He knelt down and looked up at me, his dark eyes filled with need and whispered, “I want you.” He bit the skin where my right hip joined my thigh. I was not expecting it, but the pain surged through my nerves and I could feel my fingers and toes shoot out as I shamelessly moaned, “Yes.”

My whole life, I told myself that I was worthy of good things: of love, of success, of happiness; that I should be able to give myself pleasure, that I shouldn’t have to rely on someone else. I trained myself not to let other people define how I see myself. But I must admit, it was good to feel… desired. To feel his excitement mesh with mine, our desperation, our fear. Being completely open, with no verbal embellishments or woollen armour, it gave me such a thrill. Of course I was still scared, but somehow that made letting go so much more delicious. In a bedroom, cramped and scattered with books, hidden in a dusty city filled with zooming rickshaws and blinding streetlights, I tasted a new wave of freedom. If only for one cool August night.