When you think of the LGBTQ community, it’s tempting to imagine that we’re a big, welcoming, lovely gang of people sharing our experiences and helping each other out through hardship and marginalisation when we’re rejected by mainstream society. And while that might be the experience of some, the sad truth is that problems of racism, transphobia and discrimination run through the very heart of our community.
And nowhere is that more visible than on the hook-up app Grindr. Released in 2009, the app, used by many gay, bi, trans and queer people to meet others for dates and sex, has become the single biggest queer mobile app community in the world and is available in more than 192 countries.
But something that you’ll immediately notice if you use the app is the subtle (and sometimes shockingly explicit) racism that many users display.
Transgender model and activist Munroe Bergdorf recently asked her followers to send her examples of this sort of behaviour on the app – and the results are stomach-churning:
Now, in response to this pressure from users on the app, Grindr has announced a new initiative, to be rolled out on 19 September, tackling ‘sexual racism’ – and it’s called ‘Kindr’.
A Grindr spokesman explained in a statement to The Advocate:
“Sexual racism, transphobia, fat-shaming and other forms of discrimination are major issues that pervade our community – issues that we as a community need to address. As the leader in the gay dating space, Grindr has a responsibility to not only protect our users, but to take a stand on these issues and lead by example.
“Grindr has a new suite of queer leadership - myself included - who share this same mission to take much-needed action, make impactful changes in the app and use Grindr’s enormous power to do good for greater LGBTQ+ community.
“Our upcoming ‘Kindr’ initiative, which is built around education, awareness and specific policy changes in the Grindr app, will serve as the first step of many Grindr will be taking to help foster a more inclusive and respectful community on our platform.”
Reaction to the initiative on social media was mixed, with some people showing cautious optimism but others judging that Grindr’s efforts will ultimately be useless.
Fingers crossed this can be a helpful first step in the LGBTQ community finally facing up to our problems and tackling them head on.