Henry Badenhorst, the co-founder of the trailblazing Gaydar dating website, has died after falling from a tower block in his native South Africa, close friends of the businessman’s have confirmed to BuzzFeed News. He was 51.
The cause of death has not yet been formally established but it is understood he killed himself.
Along with Gary Frisch, his business and romantic partner, Badenhorst founded Gaydar in November 1999. Frisch died in 2007 – he also fell to his death from the balcony of a building.
The couple dreamed up the website after a single gay friend of theirs had been complaining about how hard it was to find a boyfriend on existing online dating sites.
Rob Curtis, the current managing director of Gaydar, told BuzzFeed News: “Eighteen years ago, Henry and his partner Gary revolutionised the way that gay men meet, and in doing so created a safer environment for LGBT people everywhere. The Gaydar team is shocked and saddened to hear of Henry’s passing and send our sincerest sympathies to Henry’s friends and family.”
Frisch and Badenhorst had come to London two years earlier to set up a revenue management company called QSoft. But it was Gaydar that made their name, their fortune, and forged incalculable connections between gay, bi and queer men.
Although a few dating sites such as Gay.com had begun to capitalise on both the new opportunities the burgeoning internet offered and the need among gay and bisexual men to connect, Gaydar revolutionised the way it was done.
Badenhorst and Frisch introduced live chat rooms, sophisticated search facilities – including location searches enabling you to find the nearest gay men looking to meet – and perhaps most importantly, profile pages. These provided numerous photographic features and endless capacity for people to convey who they were, what they liked and what they were looking for. It changed everything.
Gaydar enabled gay men in the closet, in the countryside, in countries where it was illegal and in open, metropolitan environments alike to meet. It influenced a slew of copycat heterosexual sites, and paved the way for mobile phone dating apps such as Grindr, Scruff and Tinder that are today enjoyed by tens of millions. Read more via Buzzfeed