I had just put up a face pic on my Grindr profile less than 24-hours into their 7-Day Free Trial when a young man messaged me. “Are you the playwright Paul Boakye?”
“Who?” I asked.
“Well, you are using his pic,” he slammed back, sharing a screenshot of a Wikipedia page about me.
“Busted,” I replied.
“To be honest,” he said, “it’s just that I was reading your play Boy with Beer only yesterday night, and thought this was an incredible coincidence.”
“Where did you find it?”
“I read Boy with Beer years ago in an anthology of black plays. Then, I saw the recent Kings Head production in London, and yesterday, I just felt like reading it again. I’m a writer and director too.”
“Cool,” I said. And immediately thought that I must change my profile picture back to an image of my feet. “I hope you enjoyed the play on second-reading.”
“I am in love with your play,” he replied. “To date, it is the only depiction of black British queer romantic male love that I have ever seen anywhere.”
“That is a shame, given that Boy with Beer is approaching thirty years old. There have been one or two less enduring attempts at a British black gay drama, but it seems black gay men in Britain no longer desire each other like they once did.”
“I’m sure you are on here for more romantic reasons,” he continued, “but may I keep in contact with you via social media or WhatsApp? This really was a one in a billion chance, and I should love to keep the connection if you would.”
He then added a praying hands emoji for good measure. ?? I couldn’t very well block him now, could I?
But my Grindr profile didn’t last beyond their free seven-day trial period. They’ve promoted a drive to disable the ability to search user profiles by ethnicity as a stand for #BlackLivesMatter. I’m still trying to understand who exactly this move benefits. Ethnicity search was possibly the only reason to pay for their product.
BOY WITH BEER, however, is now available as a new paperback edition from Amazon Global and all good bookstores. Seek it out and keep the faith.
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