Apple approves 'only gay social app for ages 12 and up'

The founders of Distinc.tt believe it's time for a gay social app that doesn't have sex at its core. This is an app that "you can bring home to Mom."

A Distinc.tt scene. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Do you feel that the gay community is all too often symbolized by shiny torsos with a body fat percentage below 3?

Do you sense that when you think of gay apps, the first that comes to mind is Grindr?

But what about gay taste? What about the gay sense of style?

This isn't the stuff of mere legend. The fine urban studies theorist Richard Florida has offered that cities thrive when they attract a dynamic gay population.

Some very clever Harvard types (are there any other kind?) believe that, when it comes to apps, the gay community hasn't offered the full bloom of its most tasteful side.

So they've created Distinc.tt. This, they claim, is "the only gay social app approved by the iTunes store for 12-year-olds and older."

Before you mount your high, sweaty horse and exert a moral gallop over the idea, might I say that this app doesn't have sex at its core?

Instead, and I'm quoting the company now, Distinc.tt "uses real-time collective knowledge to connect trendsetting crowds and travelers to the places and people that best reflect their distinct interests."

Implicit in this rococo marketing speak is the notion that gay people know where it's at before, you know, other sorts of people do.

How do I know this? Well, I can read press releases.

Here's an extract: "With an emphasis on good taste, Distinc.tt is sleekly designed to easily lead users to the right event, restaurant, party, or vacation spot for the moment or upcoming calendar, where their friends are or plan to go soon."

Just as Google tells you there are "right" ads and "wrong" ones, so here you can have access to the "right" events, rather than quiz night at your local Uzbek potato vodka bar.

In the iTunes store, Distinc.tt has a charming way of describing itself: "Finally, an LGBT app that you can bring home to Mom!"

"Mom, look! Here's how I found out where the very crunchiest baguettes are at!"

Indeed, Distinc.tt describes itself as "clean, social, and fun."

CEO Michael Belkin told me that this is very different from, say, Grindr: "If you go on Grindr, people change their headline sometimes to 'Visiting tonight, does anyone know the best place to go out?'"

Belkin says he's launching Distinc.tt because he became "disgusted by the tasteless torsos and imagery on gay social sites and apps."

He wants "the good-taste part of the gay stereotype to gain traction with advertisers and cross the mainstream divide."

In this, he has some very famous and tasteful investors -- old PayPal pals Peter Thiel and Keith Rabois, to name but two.

Taste and art are often intertwined like long-lost lovers, one of whom has flown in from the Andes and the other from Boise. The art here is that Distinc.tt claims it has a proprietary algorithm that ranks places and events for "hotness."

I suspect that you and I (and the hamsters pushing the algorithmic wheel at Distinc.tt) already have our own idea of hotness. Sometimes, though, we're at a loss as to where to find it.

Please remember, we're talking Harvard people here. So don't be surprised that they claim this is "the only app that combines social networking, event ticketing, attendee visibility, location-based services, and hot-spot locating with predictability and in real time."

That's the lovely thing about techies. They do adore predictability.

After all this information, you're probably feeling a need for hotness coming on. What is surely cool, however, about this initiative is that it promises to be your "well-connected, in-the-know, VIP gay friend."

We all need one of those, don't we? Otherwise, we'd all still be eating at Outback.

An app you can bring home to mom. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET
Here it is in the iTunes store. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET
 

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