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Never trust a stranger

The idea of meeting people through dating apps is one of the very few options that people belonging to the LGBTQI have when it comes to indulging in sexual relationships, but there are risks involved

Who was it? Didn’t you see the pictures before meeting him? Why didn’t you shout? Did this happen at a public place? There are so many such questions to which I have the answers, but it doesn’t seem enough to satisfy the curiosity of those who hear about this unfortunate incident that happened with me a few days ago.

It not only shook me, but also shattered the confidence that took me years to build. And yes, I also lost some money because of it.

It was a bright Saturday afternoon, some friends had come over to visit the rented accommodation where I recently shifted. We were all happy that things were turning out fine. Just then, the idea of doing something exciting crossed my mind – I thought of meeting someone through a dating app.

After all, everyone is a stranger in the beginning.

Sad as it may sound, that’s the only resort for many people in the gay community. Ours is not a world filled with privilege, which the heterosexuals enjoy as fine wine, but rarely do they acknowledge it. We don’t have the privilege of approaching a person at a party because we find them hot. We don’t have the privilege of meeting someone through our parents or friends because the chances of the other person belonging to LGBTQI are quite dim.

And let’s not forget that the suppression of the LGBTQI community by the society has largely acted as a deterrent to openly displaying our sexuality. And that has made most of the members of the community, sometimes act desperate.

So, what options does this leave us with? Grindr and Tinder —the bitter-sweet dating platforms, which on most days give people a hundred stimulating options for relationships.

For me, Grindr had something nasty in store that day. I connected to a man in his mid-20s, who seemed like a regular guy, and wanted to meet me. I have two standard rules when it comes to meeting people in person — I must have their number and must check out one of their social media accounts.

So, this man gave me his number, and readily agreed to speak over the phone. We spoke to each other of our likings in bed, and he told me that he stays and works in Noida. It all seemed very regular, and he sounded like the kind of decent person you could hang out with.

He wanted me to meet him at the Metro Station nearest to my flat. And from there, we agreed on going to my friend’s place.

While I was waiting for him, a man in a white collared t-shirt, wearing a cap and a heavy-looking necklace, walked towards me. I was confused because I was trying to match his face with that of the person whose photos I saw on Grindr.

I found him suspicious, and then he initiated a conversation and that confused me further.  Then he asked, “Do you have the money?” I could not figure out how money had come into the picture. He told me that he charges for sex, and it’s already mentioned on his Grindr profile. He told me to check my phone, I did, and there it was, “I’m paid Rs 10,000.”

But he was lying. He had, in fact, updated his profile some time before I reached the Metro station. I told him he’s a fraud and this is wrong. This led to an altercation and he slapped me with full force. As it was happening at a public place, and I could have screamed and called for help. But I couldn’t.

My legs were trembling with fear as our verbal spat continued. He made me talk to a “dealer” through his phone, who too began swearing.

My nervousness increased and I started feeling helpless. I told him that I’m a journalist and the police will come in no time. But my phone was with him, and he didn’t seem afraid of anything. I kept trying to convince him to return my phone, but he told me to give him some money for conveyance and only then he will give me back my phone. I refused again.

He took out my phone from his pocket and threatened me that he will break it. Now, giving him some money seemed like the only option.

He demanded no less than Rs 500. I gave him the money and he went, leaving me with no money in my pocket.

I had to walk back home. Many people told me that I should file an FIR, but I’m scared that will again be a monstrous situation. And I’m worried about my personal safety. I don’t want to walk with a sense of fear that someone might come after me in an area which is still very new to me.

I uninstalled Grindr — I had to. But before deleting it, I changed my profile picture to the profile picture he used. I did this to make other people wary of him. I also wrote about the incident on my profile bio.

Today, I feel that all the confidence I gained over the years, after battling with bullying in high school, is lost. Only time can heal me again.