SCRUFF: Hooking guys up with travel and safety

To mark the five-year anniversary of one of the world’s largest apps connecting gay men worldwide, SCRUFF announced new features to keep you safe while traveling — and to help you travel better.

Gay men are travelers, so it is no surprise that SCRUFF launched SCRUFF Venture, a groundbreaking feature that redefines the “hook-up” app space, helping to distinguish SCRUFF from Grindr, Tinder, Daddy Hunt and other mobile apps. SCRUFF set out to create a connection among gay men who travel. In the first week, 20,000 trips were created, dozens of premier events listed and hundreds of Airbnb listings were created. Featured now are 24 destinations, and counting.

“Travel has been a core use of SCRUFF: to meet local people when you arrive in town to get advice, to hook up, to make friends in a city on an event weekend,” said Eric Silverberg, one of the company’s cofounders. “It was very early on that people started describing how they were using SCRUFF while they travel.”

Silverberg tells a story of a friend who went on a whirlwind global trip. He was in India, Cambodia, Jordan and Great Britain. He used Scruff — especially in Jordan and Cambodia — before he even arrived. He found guys to talk to on SCRUFF so when he landed he had someone ready to meet up to take him around. He went to gay bars, house parties and a tour of the desert for four days. (But, Silverberg cautioned, be careful who you meet online. They are still strangers.)

Silverberg said, “Unlike most straight travelers, gay guys befriend one another quickly and are comfortable sightseeing and spending the day with fellow travelers they have just met.”

The travel features of SCRUFF Venture are:

•       “Visiting Now & Arriving Soon” lists guys who are currently traveling in a city or will be visiting a city in upcoming weeks.

•       “Ambassadors” are residents of a city who have pledged to provide friendly advice and recommendations to visitors in their city.

•       Airbnb Integration is for members with listings on Airbnb and VRBO who target gay travelers, a novel idea to connect travelers and accommodations.

•       Local event listings highlight LGBT events.

“SCRUFF wants to keep our members safe when they travel, and we can do that with a technical approach to obscure a member’s location when in a region with unique risks,” said Silverberg.

SCRUFF launched “Gay Travel Advisories,” a comprehensive resource dedicated to documenting laws that criminalize same-sex acts worldwide. SCRUFF members who travel to one of the nearly 90 countries listed are alerted via an in-app notification of the consequences of conviction under these laws.

SCRUFF Gay Travel Advisories was built in partnership with the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (, the world federation of national and local organizations dedicated to achieving equal rights for LGBTI people.

“Some countries have fines, others prison terms and others the death penalty. We see Gay Travel Advisories as a public service,” said Silverberg.