By Jake Mason
There is a level of trust that comes with hookup culture. You trust that the guy you are talking to is actually real. You trust that this person won’t share your pictures and interests with other people. You even trust them with your address when it finally comes time to meet up. For years, I have spent time on Grindr and Scruff chatting with men who appeal to me and I’ve never given much thought to how much trust I give them. The thought that I could be inviting a thief into my safe space is something I never expected to encounter. Unfortunately, I recently found myself at the center of just that.
Recently, I spent one night in a New York City hotel while I was in town for work. The moment I set my suitcase down I began browsing Grindr to see who was around. I started conversations with several different guys before hitting it off with one in particular. Two hours of introductions, picture swapping, fetish sharing and ultimately planning a meet up commenced. We discovered a common interest in sex gear and I shared a picture of my favorite piece. A few months prior, I had purchased a rather pricey harness set from Cell Block that connected to a jockstrap. It became such a hit with other guys that it became part of my standard wardrobe while travelling. He asked me to wear it if he came over and I happily obliged before sending my address and room number.
He arrived at my hotel door about 20 minutes later and he asked to freshen up while I put on my harness. He emerged from the bathroom and our hook up began. As foreplay turned into penetration the harness was removed and thrown onto the floor by the pile of his clothes. When the hook up came to an unsatisfying finish, he quickly started putting on his clothes. I am no stranger to guys who ejaculate and instantly want to remove themselves from the situation so I thought nothing of it. I slowly started gathering my clothes as he prepared for his quick departure. After he left I realized that my harness was not where I had flung it mid sex.
As someone who has a general trust in people, I instantly thought I must have thrown it elsewhere. There is no way that someone would blatantly steal from someone after you invite them over. Who would have the nerve to do such a thing? I turned my hotel room upside down twice before I concluded that my Grindr hookup just stole from me. I grabbed my phone and messaged him to bring it back and he replied with a block. As his profile disappeared from my screen I went into a rage. Had I not trusted him, none of this would have happened. After searching the nearest subway station, calling my husband and realizing I saved his photo I decided to reach out to a group that I never expected would be so helpful.
I had posted in God, Another Gay Group several times before. The 4,000+ members of GAGG have seen my topless photos, read my comments and opinions on posts and I have even been lucky enough to meet a few fellow members. I knew that if anyone would recognize this stranger it would be them so I posted his photo with a brief description of what happened to me. Momentum slowly built overnight, garnering a decent amount of attention, but no one seemed to recognize the thief. Within the first day of posting, someone linked him to Long Island with the help of Grindr. The following day, another GAGG member reached out to him on Grindr in an attempt to gain personal information from him. By day three, countless members of GAGG had found his Grindr, multiple Facebook accounts and Instagram.
Approximately 75 hours after a stranger stole from me in a New York City hotel, the unthinkable happened. I received a Facebook friend request from him with a long apology for what he had done to me. I read the message in awe before responding simply with my address. He agreed to mail it back to me and tried to assure me he was not a bad person. He then explained to me that he was scared for his safety because the number of people harassing him on every form of social media had become overwhelming. I told him I would ask everyone to back off in exchange for my harness and I stuck to my word. Members of GAGG put down their pitchforks for me as momentum on the post grew and grew.
By the end of day four I realized that my post was now being called “Harnessgate”. The thread kept receiving more attention and everyone seemed to be waiting for a dramatic conclusion. I waited in anticipation with GAGG until day 5 when I received tracking information for the harness. I shared the news on the post and on day 6 I received a new package notification. I rushed home after the gym that day and eagerly opened the package. The thief had kept his word and I was holding my harness again. I instantly shared it with GAGG and thanked everyone who helped in some way. Harnessgate had officially come to an end and I even thanked the thief via Facebook for sending it back before denying his friend request.
When I look back at those six days, I almost don’t even remember how mad I was at the stranger who stole from me. I look back and see an online community who stood up behind me and showed unwavering support. My harness was back in my hands in less than a week thanks to a number of people who trusted that I was telling the truth and sought out justice for me. I am very grateful for everyone that was a part of Harnessgate and I will never forget it, trust me.