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Saturday, 6 October 2018

We need to talk about Grindr.

Dear entitled, it’s time to do and be better. 

I’ve been using Grindr on/off for the past 8 years, it would have been earlier if I’m being honest but I didn’t want to get rid of my Blackberry for an iPhone so it meant I couldn’t be active on it as Blackberry didn’t support the app. In my years of use, I’ve been abused countless times for my looks or colour and I’ve been fetishized and objectified. Long gone are the days when I thought o wow there’s an app full of other queers, hoping that it would be a place for friends and fulfilling meets opposed to fucking or ‘fun’ in its many forms. 

Of course, as a gay young man it affects my mental health to be reduced to a colour or body part, of course, I feel frustrated, sad and angry every time that’s usually most times on the app people ask me for hookups. I know the app was designed for that, and finding who’s near but as someone who in their daily life works with building, nurturing, supporting and contributing to online communities, I often wonder why can’t the leading gay ‘dating’ app do and be better. 

I guess people will say hey why don’t you delete it? For me it’s simple there are few places to meet other queers openly, I can’t just walk up to some guy I find attractive in the street and compliment and flirt. Also being on the app reduces my desire/ need to go out partying even if it means I must suffer from fickle interactions, and for all its sins in the long term, it’s another place where we can celebrate ourselves even there are repercussions. 

We have inherited all these freedoms but what do we do with them? I’ve always preferred dating to hookups, plus here (Berlin) you can hook up in a cubicle and even on the dance floor! it’s like why do I need Grindr to talk and talk and leave my house to go off into the night not knowing if I’m in danger... I think being black is bad but what about transgendered individuals, or those who are disabled or don’t fit any of the average fetish bills?

I guess for me Grindr is an open playground where many are playing games I don’t feel like playing, in the cities I’ve lived my race has meant I’m a minority on the app, meaning I feel like I’ve always felt like I’ve had to seek validation from a majority. This said majority where arrogance is rife, with bios filled with dos and dont’s and hate before the first interaction. I would and could never say I don’t find a certain race attractive, as far I am concerned my type is everyone I’m attracted to and those who aren’t is everyone I’m not. 

I may have lived in cities/ countries and partied at places, where Caucasian’s are the populace, I may have seen magazine covers, watched films, looked at art that features and promote one ideal viewpoint of beauty but that doesn’t mean just because a diverse range of beauty isn’t celebrated often that  I should discredit and ignore. The issue here is when the white body is worth more than any other race and valued higher in most circles then that’s when/ why we have a problem. 
This gives privilege and power to a populace that in many ways bully, deny and critique others and turn places into an open battlefield and war zone. 

Grindr has promised to do more and has launched a ‘Kindr’ campaign with videos featuring parts of the community which has been marginalized, hearing their voices and experiences only solidifies how tragic the app is. It’s a step in the right direction but the key question is how will they police the users who are abusive and serial offenders. It’s a large part of their job to community manage and ensures that their users feel and remain safe. 

The bottom line is, does Grindr really care about us? Does it care about our mental health? If we’re safe with sex? If we’re cautious about who we meet? Are there ways to protect the vulnerable and disempower those who use their privilege as a weapon to be quite frankly bigots, racists and bullies? When these questions are answered and practices but in place then maybe I can acknowledge that it truly has become kindr.