Racism pervades in all aspects of society— even in marginalized groups such as the LGBTQ+ community, and because of the new possibilities and the extensive reach that the internet now offers, its spread has increased at alarming rates.
Specifically, when people can hide behind the veil of anonymous online dating services, they tend to be more open about their racial “preferences” in partners. This partiality usually stems from racial stereotypes and harmful notions about white beauty standards. As a post on the National LGBTQ Task Force writes, “It is troubling to see racial hierarchies reified in online queer dating spaces because queer people should know better. Queerness does not give whites a pass to be openly racist.” These “racial hierarchies” are especially rampant on the Tinder copycat known as Grindr, a gay hook-up/dating app for men.
Grindr even acknowledges the problem with its new initiative called Kindr, an anti-discrimination update of the app’s community guidelines that are meant to address toxic behavior and bullying. The zero-tolerance updated community guidelines include some common sense rules. The main aspects of them are respect,— both of peer users and of the law— safety, authenticity, and fun. Unlike the 50-some pages of regulations on Facebook, the Grindr guidelines are fortunately comprehensible for the average reader.
Alongside the community guidelines, on its site, Grindr showcases a five part Kindr video series. The videos serve as an introduction to different issues raised on the app such as racism, body shaming, transphobia, stigma surrounding HIV, and femme shaming, showing that Grindr has begun the long fight against such issues in a productive way.
There is also a new feature on the site that allows users to report offensive profiles. This is especially useful considering a currently trending tag on Tumblr dedicated entirely to the “Douchebags of Grindr.”
Because the app only launched its new initiative in mid-September, the changes are not immediately noticeable. The real question of its successful will be determined if users of color on the app notice a more inclusive environment. Regardless, Grindr’s proactiveness in fighting damaging issues in modern society can and should set a precedent in rising social media and dating apps. While the app mainly launched the initiative after accusations of racism, hopefully it will begin to create a more inclusive environment for those with different body types, HIV statuses, and gender presentations. If the Kindr initiative can indeed be successful, then hopefully, other dating apps will follow in its footsteps.