“No one would like to date people living with HIV unless he is living with it. Most gay sugar daddies are not living with HIV, so they don’t want to bring home any unwanted souvenirs." That is the official mission statement of Daddy Bear and new dating app seeking to connect sugar daddies with their admirers.
In doing so they are choosing to stigmatize those living with HIV by making them not only feel unwelcome, but also shame them for simply being poz. The worst part? It's totally unapologetic.
The app is called DaddyBear, and it claims to be the “No. 1 gay sugar-daddy dating app” designed for “older” gentlemen obviously looking for a younger man to hang on their arm. So what is a “daddy” you ask?
According to its iTunes description, “if you are a wealthy and successful man looking for a sweet boy to meet your needs or a young and attractive guy looking for a life mentor to show the best things in the world for you, you will have a great time here with DaddyBear and its premium membership.” Its About Page claims that daddies are “rich men who have more money and social wealth than you do,” and that “most mature gay daddies grew up under the macro environment of AIDS epidemic and scare, so they know how to protect themselves and you, and enjoy safe sex with you.”
If you’re like me, you probably are a bit confused with this statement, and will feel a visceral reaction after learning that a DaddyBear spokesperson clarified this description in the comments section of an article on the blog Queerty:
“With the fact that most gay men care more about health than sex when seeking gay relationship, we create this gay dating app to meet their needs,” it read. “If you are worried about meeting gay men who are living with HIV, then you can feel relieved with our App because we are trying our best to make sure that all users you meet will be healthy and without HIV, starting from adding a feature to allow users to verify their health condition.”
The CEO of DaddyBear further explained in an interview with INTO, saying, “No one would like to date people living with HIV unless he is living with it. Most gay sugar daddies are not living with HIV, so they don’t want to bring home any unwanted souvenirs. However, we support that gay men living with HIV have the right to date with other gays with HIV. But many rich and successful gay sugar daddies do not want to date with gay men living with HIV, which is the reason why we launched this app to meet their needs.”
Let’s be clear. DaddyBear is not the only app to ask about your status. In fact, most hookup apps — like Grindr, for example — ask about your HIV status and give you the option to share it. Additionally, clicking a box marked “positive” or “negative” says nothing about one’s true status. That should be common sense.
For an app geared towards “older” gentlemen, it’s interesting to ponder on who exactly these men are. It doesn’t read like someone who lived during the HIV epidemic and saw the incredible persecution of gay men — not HIV-positive men, but all gay men — who lived during these times. To regurgitate it now as a weapon is not only the definition of hypocrisy, but it's rather off color.
In other words, it sounds like the person who wrote this description is either: a) not an “older” gentlemen, but rather a young arrogant piece of bar meat most gay men proclaim to hate, or b) has been living under a rock for the last several decades and doesn’t realize that today's HIV meds lead the virus to become undetectable, which means it’s impossible to transmit HIV to negative partners. In fact, half of HIV-positive people in America are undetectable.
So my question is this (for those of you on DaddyBear): Would you rather sleep with someone who knows their status and is undetectable, or someone who clicks a box suggesting they’re “HIV-negative,” aren’t on PrEP, but was last tested a few months ago?
For the older gay men who feel good being part of an app that virtually puts a “No Poz Allowed” sign in front of you, I want to ask you something: How long have you been chasing your HIV phobia? The fact that I, a millennial who grew up on Will & Grace and TGIF and Britney Spears, know more about your generation speaks clearly about the veil you willingly hang over your face.
Trust me, if there was a box marked “asshole,” you’d definitely be checked. (You can block me if you like)