(c) 2017, Thiago Akbal

I have never really been a fan of dating apps. However, I must confess that I tried them a few times. I’m what you might call ‘app-curious’. These spurs of the moment app-curious impulses normally happen when I’m on holiday. I should add that I’ve never experienced any shortage of local eligible gay bachelors anywhere I went, no matter how big or small the town was. (yay! gay world domination agenda 90% completed…)

Recently, I spent some time studying in Spain as part of the Erasmus program. One sunny afternoon, I installed one of these apps, and that’s when the eeriest thing happened:

After just a few swaps (mostly to the left I admit), a very daunting message popped up on my screen: ‘THERE’S NO ONE NEW IN YOUR AREA’ (25 miles radius by the way!)

My heart immediately skipped a beat in awe and fright, it was as if an apocalyptic twilight-zone kind of scenario had been dropped on me.

– ‘What do you mean there’s no one? Where are all the queens?’ I thought to myself.

It’s not as if I were in a small rural village in the middle of nowhere. This was a medium sized city with over half a million people!

My head started to spin and I felt my knees starting to shake. What happened to the gays in this town? Were they all abducted by some sort of secret government elimination project? The conspiracy theorist in me was anxious. So, I decided to calm myself down by listening to some Lady Gaga (I don’t drink so… that’s my fix). The next logical thing to do was to pound deeper into this hole and find an explanation for the case of the missing Spanish fags. This geeky looking guy started to message me on the dating app, he was kind of cute. I wasn’t too keen on him, but since the number of matches were next to zero, he was my first and only clue to solving the mystery. So I agreed to a date. We met for tea at a public and secure location (at daylight for precaution). Luckily, he was willing to share his intel with me. Here’s how it went:

– ‘So, tell me, how come there’s only a handful of gays in a city with over half a million people?’ I enquired.

He laughed uncontrollably for a few moments before finally unravelling the reason for the uncanny extremely low sausage-to-sausage ratio per square meter:

– ‘There are plenty of gays in here, trust me. But they are all incognito. You see: apart from Madrid and Barcelona, there’s still a very religious and conservative mentality when it comes to homosexuality here. Because of the extremely high rate of unemployment in Spain now (reaching up to 50% for young people), most of us can’t afford to live away from home. Because we all live with our parents, it makes it very hard for us to come out. Using dating apps for cruising is very dangerous because someone may recognise us and OUT US before we are ready. So don’t worry, the gays are here! We’re just not ready to come out of our cocoons and spread our wings just yet.’

– ‘Phew!’ I sighed in relief.

So the gays are alive and well after all in this part of the world. They’re just still young caterpillars, but flourishing and blooming nevertheless. Good!

I went back home with the plan to come back one day.

Hopefully, in a few springs, this area will be colourful and thriving. I’ll make sure to save money for a new camera, it will be quite a sight to see, I can’t wait!


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Thiago Akbal is a comparative literature student and freelance writer based in London.

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