I Tried a Bromance App so You Don't Have To

Bro. It seems like every day more and more chill men are shacking up, getting married, and having kids. I’m happy for you bro, but once everyone is coupled up… who will the last remaining single bros hang with?

If you’ve been impacted by the brocession (that’s the technical term for the bro recession), you’re in luck!

A new app called ‘BRO’ launched yesterday and its mission statement is simple:

“Bro is the new 'Social App' for bromance, chat, and dating - just for men.”

The makers of BRO believe their app goes beyond sexual preference labels, opening up the arena for men who just want to meet other men for… “whatever.”

I joined BRO to see what makes this app different from say… a dating app.

Before I even got started, I was asked to answer some personal questions I didn’t anticipate, like my body type and HIV status.

BRO profile

I was then prompted to identify my skin tone and “bro type.” Though I leaned towards Hipster Bro, I ended up going with Casual Bro because a real hipster would never call themselves a hipster.

The app also asks you whether you’re interested in “Dates, Chat, JUST Friends, Long-Term Bromance, or Whatever, Bro.”

While the “Dates” and “JUST friends” options are explicitly clear in their intentions, it seems like the “Long-Term Bromance” and “Whatever, Bro” options are a little… wink, wink.

These gray area selections seem to be the equivalent of “discreet” or “DL” asks on Craigslist sexual encounter ads.

Craigslist asks

These asks are usually put out by straight-identifying men looking to fool around with the same sex, but are there enough of these men out there to warrant an app where they can approach these encounters using the bro code?

That’s the first question that came to Jane Ward’s mind when she came across BRO. Ward is the Associate Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at UC Riverside and the author of “Not Gay—Sex between Straight White Men.”

“I thought, ‘what is it about Grindr that didn’t meet the needs of these men?” Ward told ATTN: in an interview. “There truly are men outside the ‘gay’ and ‘bi’ identifications, and the various products marketed to them, whose needs aren’t being met. It’s another niche.”

Thanks to examples in mainstream media, it’s easier for us to wrap our minds around straight women experimenting with their sexuality and not being labeled “lesbians.” But according to Ward, there’s an “undercurrent of sexuality” within straight-identifying men that has gone unacknowledged.

A quick browse through my potential matches reveals that most BROs gravitate towards the “Whatever, Bro” option in the when prompted to state what they’re interested in. A not wholly surprising choice that opens the closet door just enough to see what’s out there, but not far enough that one couldn’t shut it quickly if they had to… not that there’s anything wrong with that.

A deeper dig still proved that discretion is key in bro-to-bro interactions.

bro chat

It’s also possible that calling a relationship between two curious men a “bromance” is just an easier entry point into the label-heavy world of the homosexual community.

bro chat

In the same interview, Jane Ward referenced a study completed by the Centers for Disease Control earlier this month that states that 2.8 percent of straight men reported having sex with other men.

“2.8 percent might not sound like a big figure,’ she clarified, ‘but for comparison, Jews represent 2.2% of all Americans.”

An app like BRO would allow this percentage of the male population to explore their sexuality with a lessened concern for the state of their masculinity.

As to whether these men are simply gay men in hiding, Ward thinks the answer lies in a broader definition of homosexual sex:

“I think it’s shortsighted to be so rigidly attached to the hetero/homo binary, and to the believe that anyone who identifies as hetero, but has had a same sex experience, must be lying… it’s much more interesting to believe people’s descriptions of their sexual identification and sex practices.”

The most interesting thing about joining BRO on its first day was seeing my matches (and therefore the app’s user base) grow and diversify throughout the day. The fact that these men, whether gay, bi, straight, or “whatever bro,” are joining a fluid community with flexible definitions of sexuality means we’re headed in the right direction.

While I can’t really see myself returning to BRO after today, I still think it’s mere existence is a cool story, bro.