I'm a 41 year-old man living in the "gayborhood" of a larger city in the Midwest. My husband and I have been married for over a decade and recently opened our relationship. Once we were open, I realized that what I was most attracted to for outside play partners were young guys (age 18-24). I have met up with several of these guys over the past few months and it has been great. The issue I have is that I'm contacted on Grindr relatively often (at least once every few days) by men who seem interested but then ask me to pay them for sex. So far I have reacted to such requests by declining, blocking or both.
I was recently out of town and came across a Grindr profile of a man that stated "no one should be forced to have sex just to get food or a roof over their head. Message me and I will help you." It really got me thinking about these people who contact me asking for money in exchange for sex. I had initially thought that they were generally ok but just looking for a few extra dollars. However, now I am thinking that at least some of them may have no other means to get money, and may be homeless or housing unstable, hungry, etc. I do not want to engage in survival prostitution from either side of the equation, and I want to help someone who feels that is the only way to survive. What can I reasonably do?
I know that I live in a neighborhood where there are lots of resources, but I also know that those resources are insufficient to give food, shelter, clothing, education and job training to all of the people that need it. I also know that I alone cannot solve everyone's problem. But surely there must be some things I could do to help these people with whom I have direct contact through the app (which somehow feels different and a lot more intimate than passing up a typical homeless person on the street). We have a child, so I don't think I want to open my home to someone I don't know, and since these guys are over 18 there is no foster care system to be a part of.
Is it appropriate to ask these men why they are asking for money, and if there is anything I can do to help. I'm thinking that I could offer clothing, food, small denomination gift cards for Chipotle or Target, etc. Is that helpful? Do you have any thoughts on any other reasonable steps I can take and encourage others to take. Based on your advice my husband and I do our best to follow the camp site rule and make sure to treat all of our outside partners as human beings with their own feelings. I now feel like I also owe that to the guys who are asking for money even though I don't play with them, and I'm not sure how to meaningfully effectuate that (or if I really should at all).
Playing Without Preying
Some young men—gay, straight, and bi—do sex work out of desperation, engaging in what's commonly called "survival prostitution." But others do sex work because it's what they want to do; they enjoy the work, the enjoy the attention, and, of course, the enjoy the money. (A good friend was a well-paid ICU nurse and a professional piss top back in his twenties. "I have to pee," he liked to say, "might as well get paid for it!") While guys in the latter camp might be offended if you assumed they needed your pity and/or help, there's no harm in offering assistance—but someone struggling to survive needs cash, PWP, not used clothing, food, or small denomination gift cards. (Some people think gift cards are better because you can't buy drugs with them. True, I suppose, but you can't pay the rent with a gift card either—and if someone wants to buy drugs, they can sell a gift card at a loss and buy drugs.)
All that said, PWP, there's really no way for you to know if any particular guy you're offering money actually needs that kind of assistance—they're needy and desperate—or if they're ICU nurses on a sexwork/pisslark accepting your offer because, hey, free money.
You say there are resources/organizations in your city that work with at-risk, homeless, or struggling LGBT youth. Donating your money and your time to those groups is a much more effective way to help homeless or struggling queer kids in your city. Hell, supporting those orgs is the single most effective thing you could possibly do to help. Since many queer youth aren't aware of the organizations out there to help them, PWP, you should write up and save something on your phone listing these groups, the different services they provide, their addresses, phone numbers, online contact info, etc. Then instead of blocking the next young man who asks you to pay him for sex, PWP, copy, paste, and send him the list along with a few encouraging words. Some of them may not need help, some may react negatively to your gesture (even if they do need the help), but you could wind up saving a life by directing a young man to the resources he needs (it could even be someone who initially reacted negatively).