Image Copyright @Gaydar
The founder of a revolutionary dating site Gaydar has died in his native South Africa.
Henry Badenhorst, 51 years old, died after a fall from the tower block, on Saturday, the news website Buzzfeed reported.
He died a decade after its co-founder and former partner of Gary Frisch fell to his death in London.
The two created Gaydar, which has become the largest dating site for gay and bisexual men, in 1999, when a friend said he was too busy to find a partner.
Mr Badenhorst told the Guardian in 2009: “We put him on Excite [a search engine], which had a dating section where you can upload an image. But it took two weeks to get a response, so we said that we were sure that we could create something specifically for the market gay.”
Africa Live: More details on this and other storiesHow it changed life for gay men
At a time Gaydar had more than four million subscribers. The founders would launch an award-winning radio station.
As a result, Mr Badenhorst, who was born in Johannesburg, has been named in the top five of the Independent’s Pink List of influential gay men and women at least twice in the mid-2000s.
He stepped back from the company in 2010, three years after Mr Frisch’s death, which deeply touched.
But seven years later, Mr Badenhorst the legacy, both on and offline, within the LGBT community and outside, can be felt more strongly than ever before.
“He has realized that he has changed the world in a way that surprised him,” Rob Curtis, Gaydar is the current director-general has told the BBC.
He, Mr. Curtis said, makes it safer for all LGBT people to meet.
“It was difficult for gay men to find each other, and they were really the first gay social network – and the legacy of what has lived,” he added.
Patrick Strudwick, the LGBT editor for the news website Buzzfeed, said the whole idea was “revolutionary”.
“The idea, you can go to your computer and interact with them in real life without having to go into the gay bars or cruising or gay coffee shops or anything that was a pivotal moment in the history of the gay and bisexual men,” he told the BBC.A more secure option
But it was more than just a way to meet men.
“In countries where being gay is a crime, people were now able to find new contacts and to organize,” Mr. Curtis said.
Even in countries where being gay or bisexual has been accepted, the impact on the mental well-being cannot be under-estimated.
“Before the internet, gays don’t think they were the only gay person in the world. This feeling of isolation can’t produce more,” Mr Strudwick said. “What Henry and Gary has not been huge.”
Not only that, but the number of connections that the site has made over the years, whether they be romantic, sexual or platonic, could not help but the form of the community.The precursor to Facebook
When Gaydar launched for the first time, the idea that we would one day be “slide to the right”, as we sought to love would not have been possible.
Eighteen years later, millions of people connect on these applications every day, whether they are heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual.
And nothing of all this, no doubt, would have happened had it not been for the Gaydar.
“Gaydar was revolutionary, really, in the way in which gay and bisexual men to meet – and the ripples fanned out much further,” said Mr Strudwick. “The idea that you can have your own profile page and also to find people by where they are, these thing that has really changed the whole culture.
“It was the forerunner of Facebook. The idea of a person have their own page, it was quite new. The GPS element has been later updated with things like Tinder and Grinder.”
“Before, it was the small ads,” said Mr. Curtis. “Now, we have GPS-based locations.”An intelligent, caring person
The irony, perhaps, is that Mr Badenhorst was not a user of his own product.
Instead, the South African admitted to Mr. Strudwick, he chose to meet people “the old fashioned way”.
“I go to bars,” he said in the 2009 interview, one of the few he has ever given.
Mr Badenhorst was a private person, but one who was much loved and admired.
Mr. Strudwick and technology millionaire who became friends after the interview. He last spoke to him a few months before his death.
The product, Mr. Strudwick recognizes, it has its controversies. Making the community too selective, for one. Others have accused sites such as Gaydar and Grindr lead to the closure of gay bars.
But Mr Badenhorst also used to connect people with health care workers, said Mr Strudwick.
“Henry was an amazing, intelligent, gentle and caring person,” he said. “He cared about people, he cared about his community,
“Its product has been controversial, but he was of good heart, gentle, and wished to prevent gay men from suffering.”
The details surrounding Mr Badenhorst’s death remain unclear.