Grindr launches 'sides'  filter for users who don't identify as a 'top' or 'bottom'

Grindr has adopted Joe Kort's term 'sides' to empower previously isolated queer users who don't identify as a 'top' or 'bottom'.

Two people laying on the grass with pink baseball caps on. Image from a Grindr advertisement for the new filter for sides on Grindr.
Image: @grindr via Instagram

After years of confusion about his own sexual preferences, sex therapist Joe Kurt coined the term ‘sides’ to provide a label and community for individuals who prefer not to engage with penetrative sex. Now, the new preference filter for sides on Grindr is a step in combating restrictive stereotypes about queer sex, especially on dating apps. 

After a petition from Kort’s Facebook group (Side Guys) started to gain more signatures and visibility, Grindr announced they were going to adopt the term as an additional filter on the app. Even with stigmatisation still very prevalent in the queer community about what ‘real sex’ looks like, the new filter for sides on Grindr allows more individuals to reclaim their sexual autonomy. 



The ‘Side Guys’ Facebook group was not only the catalyst for Grindr’s change but it’s also created a new safe space for ‘sides’ to share their experiences. “People in my group feel liberated,” Kort comments. “I don’t have many side clients because the group is their therapy. Among their peers, they don’t feel shame or the need to unpack the reasons why they don’t enjoy penetration. They feel relieved almost immediately.”

As easy as a swipe over on Grindr preferences now, inclusion for the sides community could be nonexistent without Kort’s advocacy. He encourages more people to advocate for themselves and demand respect for their sexual preferences. He notes, “As I’ve said and taught for many years, sex is what you think sex is, not what some outside person says it is.”

Kort shares his experience with feeling misunderstood, saying that “it doesn’t mean that I’m immature, or that I’m not having sex. A lot of people will say that if you’re not penetrating and there’s no intercourse then you’re not having sex. That’s not true.”


Dr. Joe Kort's Instagram post, that says "Side Pride" in rainbow lettering. The bottom right is a picture of Dr. Joe Kort. Text on the bottom left reads, "I created the terms "side" for gay men who aren't into being a "top" or a "bottom" or practicing anal penetration". Sides on Grindr are an addition to the platform's preference filters.

After years of frustration about the fluidity of language for queer sex, especially for gay men, Grindr’s act of visibility will provide space for more queer users to feel comfortable and empowered. Kort says, “I can’t tell you how grateful I am to Grindr for accepting this position, along with tops and bottoms. For understanding that there are many ways that you can have bedroom activities.”

Comedian and sex educator, Mike Henry, released a Youtube video to spread awareness for sides, one that approached the topic in a relatable, yet light-hearted and humorous way. 

Bobby Box, on Grindr’s forum, Bloop, shares their thoughts on autonomy with sexual preferences and the importance of growing these spaces for many different people in the community. They say, “There are many other factors one may identify as a side, from erectile difficulties, body image issues, performance anxiety, medications, the chore of preparing (for bottoms), health issues, chronic pain, a well-endowed partner, fear of STIs and HIV, past traumatic experiences, the list goes on.”


A background of different images of people, with a headline in orange and black lettering that reads "Side". The bottom is a quote from Dr. Joe Kort, reading "A side are men who don't identify as "tops" or "bottoms". Advertising the new filter for sides on Grindr.


If you’re familiar with the Pride advertisement from Burger King this year, I’m sure you’ll appreciate Joe Kort’s advice to skip the new Whopper and go right for the side. 

© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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