Pioneering Gaydar Co-Founder Henry Badenhorst Has Died Aged 51

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Henry Badenhorst, founder of the groundbreaking dating site Gaydar, has died in his native South Africa at age 51 following a fall from a tower block. His tragic passing comes a decade after his co-founder and former partner Gary Frisch fell to his death in a similar fashion in London.

According to BuzzFeed News, Badenhorst fell from the 23rd floor of the Michaelangelo Towers, a hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg, on 11 November 2017. Initial reports suggest he took his own life, though the exact details surrounding his death remain unclear.

“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,” said Gaydar’s current managing director, Rob Curtis. “We are shocked and saddened to hear of Henry’s passing and send our sincerest sympathies to Henry’s friends and family.”

The duo launched Gaydar in 1999, after a friend complained that he was too busy to find a partner.

"It was June 1999," he told The Guardian in 2009. "We [he and Frisch] had a Dutch friend called Frank who was single and said: 'I need a boyfriend - can you help me?'” So they “put him on Excite [a search engine], which had a dating section where you could upload a picture. But it took two weeks for him to get a response, so we said that we were sure we could create something specifically for the gay market."

The site launched in November of the same year, and went on to become the world’s largest dating service for gay and bisexual men. At its height, Gaydar boasted more than five million subscribers. Today it’s regularly credited for its influence in pioneering the gay dating market, and Badenhorst and Frisch have both become somewhat legendary figures.

"He realised he changed the world in a way that surprised him," Curtis told the BBC. "It was difficult for gay men to find each other, and they were really the first gay social network - and the legacy of that has lived on." "Before the internet, gay people did think they were the only gay person in the world. That feeling of isolation cannot happen any more," said Patrick Strudwick, an LGBT editor for Buzzfeed. "What Henry and Gary did was enormous."

Badenhorst’s contributions to the LGBT community did not go unnoticed. The Guardian dubbed him “a quiet revolutionary”, while the Independent on Sunday Pink List named him one of Britain’s most influential gay people at least twice in the mid-2000s.

Strudwick described Badenhorst as "one of the sweetest men you could ever know” and “an incredible, clever, gentle and caring person.” “He changed life for gay and bisexual men and will be greatly missed by all,” he added.

Gaydar gave its co-founder a heartfelt and simple send-off in the form of a tweet: “To Henry. The man who revolutionised gay dating. Our founder and our friend. Thank you for dreaming. You will be forever in our hearts. Gaydar xxx”