At the start of June, gay hook-up app Grindr removed the ethnicity filter in honour of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and Pride Month. There was mixed feedback, but the conversation has seemed to die down almost completely.
Grindr is a platform that’s infamous for the level of racism heavily sprinkled throughout the platform. Of course, not by the company itself, but the users, the so-called ‘Preference Gays’. There’s been a plague of “No fats, no fems, no Asians.” forever. This update is something that the community has been begging for, time and time again.
It makes you wonder: Was this something they could have done sooner, and should they have done it sooner?
Don’t get me wrong, this is a win for diversity. It absolutely is! It just also makes me think.
Was it finally the perfect time to sneak in their support with the wave of #BLM? Right now, there’s no time to deeply question the motive behind the companies proclaiming support. The movement is simply accepting them as they are into their cause… Go figure.
Is this a sign that other companies will follow suit? That they’ll try to sneak past the gravity of their blunders during this movement. Is that okay? I mean, realistically, this was an hour’s worth of work all to seem as though they’re doing the right thing.
They’re going the right direction, it’s simply a feature that didn’t need to exist in the first place. If you’re discounting an entire race because of a “preference” so you filter them completely out of sight, that’s literally racism. And not far from segregation while you’re at it!
By all means, you can have a preference for a guy with a killer smile or a fantastic sense of humour. You can even be attracted to men who dress a certain way. But discounting an entire culture as below your standards is pretty fucking racist.
They’re saying it’s aligned with the current events and the BLM movement, but that just doesn’t add up. People have been complaining about this feature on deaf ears for years! Heck, the Black Lives Matter people have been around for almost 7 years as of this blog, and I’m sure the feature has been on Grindr longer than that. While it’s a great move for diversity, it seems too, little, too late.
The ethnicity filter also allowed you to find those of your race/background when you know the community is small locally. I have friends of colour to meet people with similar backgrounds who just got the POC gay experience from the get-go, rather than explaining it to some privileged white dude. I get it, this whole movement has certainly clocked me about some of my family members, but I’ve cancelled all those bitches!.
Grindr executives further explain that they ‘continue’ to fight racism on their platforms. But a quick peek and I still see a bunch of headless torsos saying their disgusting mantra, ‘No Fats, No Fems, No Asians!’ It honestly makes me sick. I grew up in a white as hell town surrounded by a massive indigenous population. We grew up with separate schools, four blocks apart, but they were kept from us. They didn’t play sports against us, they didn’t join our community plays or fundraisers. For the record, I started school in the 90s, this isn’t even more than a decade ago.
Now take that and amplify it by about a bazillion and you’ve got the average life of a Black American. And for those who live in this life of intense racism, how do you think they’re responding to this? Honestly, most of my POC friends say something along the lines of, ‘Yeah, that’ll help.’ No one seems to expect this to do much of anything. And who can blame them?
Systemic racism has been plaguing the globe and there’s apparently no way to ease it.
So, let’s break down the good, the bad, and the ugly in terms of Grindr’s move.
In terms of moving forward and inclusion, this is an amazing step forward. Diversity alone would be a simple representation of POC in advertising for the app. Some platforms do a better job of this than others and I can’t truly say any of them are perfect. Generally, it’s some chiselled adonis in the ad anyway, so if there are ads, they’re unrelatable for the every-person. It’s fantastic to see a company take tangible steps forward for efforts of further inclusion.
By removing the ethnicity filter the company is saying that you no longer get to go about your day hiding your racist prejudice away. It’s also a great way to find out who amongst your circle of gay friends has terrible thoughts. It’s the ideal scientific test for determining who amongst your friends is a secret racist. Sure, they might not know that their thoughts and actions are racist, but is that really any better if they aren’t changing now?
I think that this shows the company is listening to the community. And that’s a good thing. Maybe they didn’t choose the best time to make the move or maybe it was ‘finally’ the right time for them. Either way, this is a positive step towards an equality focused future, and I can’t help but think that’s a good thing. The more corporations acknowledge the weird nuances they have that are, in fact, systemically racist or bias, the better world we create for the next generation.
This just screams I’m a marketing ploy. Seriously, at the start of Pride Month, a company comes to the table and says they’re going to do a ‘good thing’ and we just believe them? At just over a month later, there’s been no real progress or information given out to show that this was a success in cracking down on racism on the hookup app. I bet if I logged on now, I would find a profile in under 5 minutes that’s got a nasty description, and that’s not just because I’m in a bible-loving city.
The effort that Grindr went through to make this appear as though it was an effort to aid the community reeks of fish. Days of releases just to delete an arbitrary feature sounds a lot like showboating… Because it is. Grindr wasn’t the only hookup app to nix the feature, but, again, this really seems like attempting to fly under the radar. There is smoke and fire everywhere right now for the BLM movement and this message got dismissed in seconds. Maybe that’s because it’s on a queer app, so publicity is limited, but it’s an interesting time to ‘help’.
We also can’t forget that this has been asked for by POC queers fro years. So why are we celebrating it in this wave of corporate ‘support’. This is no different than the rainbow icons business use precisely for the 30 days of June. This isn’t a company being an ally, this is a company taking advantage of the perfect opportunity to sneak under the radar. Plain and simple, that’s the tea. Otherwise, they would have listened sooner, they would have changed the language sooner, they would have acted sooner if they truly felt this was in the best interest of their platform.
This one is really about the community. The fact that we even felt the need for this type of filter in the first place screams about the issues within our community. This is supposed to be a safe space that we can all come out to. That’s the dream I had as a kid, that when I came out, I would be surrounded by others like me. My first thought wasn’t, ‘I can’t wait to only have a gaggle of white gay friends’. Though, that seems to be the case for a lot of queer men.
We all have an internal bias, I get it, but that’s no excuse to hide behind how you were raised. The gay community is unique in that it loathes labels from anyone outside of it. Phrases like ‘Don’t call me gay, I’m just a person’ and ‘A fag is actually a bundle of sticks’ come to mind from my childhood. But the moment you step your queer little toes into the community you’re bombarded with endless labels to fit under. Are you dom, sub, top, bottom, vers, kinky, vanilla, hardcore, and that’s just the tip of the phallic iceberg.
The reality is that the queer community has just as much growing to do as the world. We want everyone to fit inside predetermined boxes and in turn, we live our lives projecting these thoughts onto our surroundings. It’s all a bunch of horse shit. I recognize that the world is not sunshine and rainbows but dam. I actually saw this update first on my social media and it actually looked like the right move. That’s part of the problem too, they can convince you that this is an appropriate response to the current climate, but literally only because of the current climate.
I hope we keep seeing these micro-changes that are for the better. Because this, this is too much.