Advertisement

Grindr, LGBTQ2 social networking app, removes ‘ethnicity filter’ amid racism complaints

Grindr is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Leon Neal/Getty Images

Grindr has removed its ethnicity filter, a move that representatives say is a show of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Since launching in 2009, the app has grown into the largest social networking site for LGBTQ2 people, with over seven million users in 192 countries.

Ethnicity filters were a controversial function on the app that allows users the ability to single out profiles of certain races such as “Black,” “Asian” or “Latino.” But as of last week, an update to the app takes that function away.

READ MORE: ‘No Black, no Asian’: Racism in the LGBTQ2 dating community

Grindr released a statement about the filter, using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. This action came as protests were held across North America after George Floyd, a Black man, died in police custody after a white Minneapolis police officer was filmed kneeling on his neck.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'U.S. Supreme Court decision ‘catalyst’ for change: LGBTQ+ activists' U.S. Supreme Court decision ‘catalyst’ for change: LGBTQ+ activists
U.S. Supreme Court decision ‘catalyst’ for change: LGBTQ+ activists – Jun 16, 2020

“Racism has no place in our community. To help do our part, we have decided to remove the ethnicity filter from the Grindr app,” a spokesperson for Grindr said to Global News.

While some users say this is a step in the right direction, many argue that this is not enough, and that more action needs to be taken.

Story continues below advertisement

Story continues below advertisement

“It is insulting to say they are removing it to fight racism when it’s doing the bare minimum. They’re just not allowing people to be openly racist anymore,” says Taylor Henderson, a Black LGBTQ2 activist in Los Angeles.

Henderson is no stranger to racism on the app.

He says he has regularly been called the N-word, and has been blocked by users simply for the colour of his skin.

“I remember rejecting this one guy, and him just going off on me, calling me the N-word among other things, and then blocking me,” Henderson said.

Click to play video: 'Living In Colour: How the experience of online dating differs for people of colour' Living In Colour: How the experience of online dating differs for people of colour
Living In Colour: How the experience of online dating differs for people of colour – Jul 30, 2018

Other users say that the ethnicity filter in itself is not a cause for racism, but rather, that racism is being driven from the users themselves.

Story continues below advertisement

Isaac Scott, a 26-year-old Asian man from Vancouver, says he experiences racism almost daily on the app.

“I regularly come across profiles that read ‘no Blacks,’ ‘no Asians,’ and this takes it past the point of a person’s preference. This is outright racism,” says Scott.

Scott explains that while some people say these are preferences, these statements can cause significant harm to queer men of colour. He says this is an issue that causes many men to feel undesirable.

READ MORE: COMMENTARY: Yes, there is systemic racism in Canada — our history is filled with it

“You’re quite literally saying you won’t date someone based on their skin tone, when you don’t even know their laugh, their smile or their energy,” Scott said.

Haran Vijayanathan, the executive director of the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention in Toronto, also agrees that taking away the ethnicity filter “may not do much in terms of stopping racism.”

He says that the way this “preference” is communicated is a bigger issue, and comes across as racism to people of colour.

Vijayanathan says it comes down to action on an individual level, and that action needs to be taken to see the harm these comments can cause.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'LGBTQ community marks 10 years of connecting through Grindr dating app' LGBTQ community marks 10 years of connecting through Grindr dating app
LGBTQ community marks 10 years of connecting through Grindr dating app – Mar 17, 2019

“If these apps want to fight racism, they need to put in the work, share resources, and prioritize the safety of Black and person of colour users on their apps,” said Henderson.

Following Grindr’s announcement, popular gay dating apps Scruff and Jack’d also announced that they would be removing the ethnicity filter function.

In addition to removing its ethnicity filter, the app also pledged that it would make donations to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute and Black Lives Matter, according to their statement.

Click to play video: 'Reaction to BLM Protests' Reaction to BLM Protests
Reaction to BLM Protests – Jun 8, 2020

Sponsored content