A North Carolina man gained a lot of fans online for making it extra clear he intended to host an all-inclusive party for the Fourth of July – just not that kind of party.
Chris Bowman of Apex promoted his fifth annual Fourth of July barbecue using his profile in the gay meet-up app Grindr. The 61-year-old Army veteran wrote “BBQ not n ORGY” in the portion of the profile that would normally contain a form of identity.
“Why do 90% of u think this is an orgy?” Bowman asked in the profile. “Is it because I’m on this app?”
He also sent direct messages to nearby app users, telling them, “Please feel free to bring ur wife, partner or just a date. This party is open to men, women, families. Gay, str8, bi, and the unknown.”
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“The purpose of the barbecue is not for gays and straights but also black, white, any race, any sex and he-saying whatever to bring people together to talk — something we have lost the skill to do,” Bowman said in an interview.
Matt Setzer of Apex said at first he wasn’t sure what to think of the invitation Bowman sent him over the app, about a month prior to the June 30 party.
“You receive a lot of random messages and sometimes spam,” Setzer said.
But then he saw where screenshots of Bowman’s Grindr profile went viral on Twitter the day before the party, and “realized it wasn’t nearly as sketchy as my initial take.”
Setzer talked his friend Mark into going with him to the barbecue, and they were glad they did.
He said he was surprised that the two ended up being the only new faces there, given the reaction to the tweet.
“I can’t stress it enough how inclusive everyone was,” Setzer said. “From the second we walked up, everyone was so welcoming. Because of the small nature of the group, it felt very personal and everyone felt like family.”
Bowman said people from Australia to Germany have reached out to him since the viral tweet. He found out Thursday his “little BBQ” had also reached Brazil.
“I find it completely unbelievable but at the same time I find it fulfilling because people are talking — well, tweeting — about the topic and about the purpose of the BBQ,” Bowman said.
Grindr also tweeted that it would like to contribute to Bowman’s next barbecue.
“Hopefully hundreds and hundreds will attend it,” he said. “I may need a couple of extra days to prep the food but I look forward to next year.”