A new app hopes to help connect men who are interested in meeting other men for sex (among other activities) but who also may not want to commit to labeling their sexuality in one way or another.
BRO is the creation of Scott Kutler who views it as a platform for men to forge meaningful connections beyond just hooking up or NSA sex. While he anticipates that gay men will use the app as well, he wants the experience to be a place where men have space to explore sexual and emotional desires without having to specifically name them.
"Human sexuality is complex and nuanced -- more so than our society’s vision of it comprehends," Kutler told The Huffington Post. "In our culture we have a tradition of identifying people through particular categories: straight, gay, or bi (and it is rare that we accept that men can be bisexual at all). BRO is an app that honors this complexity by giving men the opportunity to think about their sexuality without feeling the need to fall into any particular group or category."
The Huffington Post chatted with Kutler this week about BRO, who he expects will use it and how he hopes it will help men feel comfortable exploring their personal spectrum of desire.
The Huffington Post: What is your vision for the BRO app? Who do you envision using it and for what purpose?
Scott Kutler: My vision is that BRO will act as a social network where men can find other men to make meaningful connections beyond just hooking up or random sex. Our typical demographic will likely be men that identify as gay looking to meet other men for friendship or dating, and not straight men looking for sex like some media outlets have proclaimed. However, Bro is also a place for men who may not be sure of their sexuality or who want a safe place to express it without judgment or fear; and that means they may identify as "straight."
Why the avoidance of labels when it comes to sexual orientation? Why is this important to you?
Human sexuality is complex and nuanced -- more so than our society’s vision of it comprehends. In our culture we have a tradition of identifying people through particular categories: straight, gay, or bi (and it is rare that we accept that men can be bisexual at all). BRO is an app that honors this complexity by giving men the opportunity to think about their sexuality without feeling the need to fall into any particular group or category. The intention of BRO is to complicate the idea that people’s sexual preferences are simple and clearly defined. It gives men the opportunity to explore without feeling burdened by the need to identify in one way or another.
What do you say to critics who would claim that this app caters towards men with internalized homophobia and "masc4masc" culture?
I've found that by being inclusive of men that may not typically identify as gay, some critics believe the app comes off homophobic. People also think the name itself -- BRO -- has heteronormative connotations. In actuality, I believe it's the opposite.
BRO is a safe space for men to express and embrace their sexuality. Our goal is to move beyond the "hookup culture" and be inclusive of more than just "gay" men. I chose the name BRO because I believe a bro is someone you can count on to be there for you. A bro can be a friend, a brother, or in some cases, a life partner. I believe that masculinity and sexuality can be mutually exclusive. Men have the right to express their masculinity however they'd like. They may come off as stereotypically effeminate, or they may seem what critics call "straight acting," and more in line with how society defines masculine. BRO is a place for both without judgement.
What do you want people to take away from this app experience?
With many apps focused on sexual binaries and anonymous hookups, I want BRO to stand out as being a high quality app that helps men -- no matter how they may identify sexually -- make meaningful connections that last more than just one night. We are also one of the first apps that caters specifically to men that actually encourages non-anonymity. Our app currently requires that you connect through your Facebook, and this can be difficult for some people. But, we've found that men are more polite and mature to each other when they're not hidden behind anonymous user names, fake profile photos and sexuality labels. Perhaps BRO will draw some men that may have self-denial or internalized homophobia, but everyone has their own issues to work out, and I don’t see why BRO can’t help them as well. The culture I want to encourage is one where men feel free to express intimacy for one another regardless of whether it's emotional or sexual. I want men to feel supported in their exploration -- a support that our culture often denies them.
Want to check out BRO for yourself? Head here.