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.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.