Data from the dating app Grindr suggest that Milo Yiannopoulos' party wasn't the only place gay men were hanging out at during the Republican National Convention. An analysis of the number of Grindr users within a five-mile radius around the Quicken Loans Arena shows there was a disproportionate increase in activity during the RNC.
On the night of July 17—the Sunday that check-in for the convention began—there was a 120 percent increase in users online in the area, more than all previous evenings in July. As of last Wednesday, a representative from Grindr tells Broadly, "more than a thousand guys have used the app near the Quicken Loans Arena." The total attendance of the RNC is estimated to have been roughly 20,000 people, so this data suggests about five percent of attendees used Grindr during the convention.
The findings reveal a disproportionate increase of Grindr usage compared to other popular destinations across the US during the same timeframe. While Grindr usage near the Quicken Loans arena showed a 66 percent increase during the RNC, other active destinations including Times Square, Capitol Hill, Disneyland, South Beach, and Trump Tower showed no comparable increase in active users. However, Grindr tells Broadly, from Sunday to Monday the week of the Democratic National Convention, there was an even higher—148 percent—increase in activity around the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia.
Many of these users were visitors, meaning they had opened the app for first time in Cleveland or Philadelphia in at least three months. 44 percent of the Grindr users near Quicken Loans Sunday through Wednesday were visitors to Cleveland, and 57 percent of the app's users near the DNC from Sunday to Monday were visitors.
The demographics of these users are also noteworthy. While the average age was comparable to the average age of Grindr users in general, 31 years, the users near both of the convention centers were disproportionately white.
"When comparing Quicken Loans visitors to the Grindr community at large, the biggest trend is over-representation of white males," Grindr tells Broadly. "White men comprise only 40 percent of the Grindr community, but represent 75 percent of the visitors [at the RNC]." Though Grindr's data from the DNC includes fewer days and therefore cannot be directly compared, it did indicate the percentage of visiting users was 68 percent white, which is actually more diverse than the local population, according to Grindr.
So what were these Grindr users hoping to find at their political conventions? A word cloud sent to Broadly by Grindr shows that the most popular terms used in the profiles of the men on Grindr during the RNC were "visiting" and "fun." There were 27 mentions of the RNC in user profiles, and six mentions of Trump. A similar word cloud for the DNC showed "looking," "guy," and "DNC" to be commonly used terms. There were three mentions of Hillary.
At the RNC, Trump vowed to protect the LGBTQ community against "foreign" threats, and billionaire Peter Thiel gave a speech in which he said he was "proud to be gay." This has led some to call the 2016 Republican National Convention the most "gay friendly" RNC ever; Grindr's findings show that may have been true in more than one way.
Despite this, the 2016 Republican Platform "condemns" the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing same-sex marriage and states its continued belief that "traditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, is the foundation for a free society and has for millennia been entrusted with rearing children and instilling cultural values."
The Democratic Platform, meanwhile, "applauds" the Supreme Court's 2015 decision and vows to continue the fight for equality.