Racism is rife against Asians and other ethnic minorities in gay hookup app Grindr, according to a gay Asian researcher who has experienced it himself.
Gene Lim, a Ph.D. candidate at Australia’s Monash University, is studying the impact of “sexual racism” on Asian men.
In June, Grindr removed its long-loathed ethnicity filter in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
The function, part of a paid subscription feature, allowed users to filter Asian, Black, Latino, Middle Eastern, Mixed, Native American, White, South Asian and/or Other as potential hookups in search results.
Grindr also explicitly bans discrimination under its community guidelines and urges users to treat others with respect.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination, harassment, and abusive behavior. We want you to be yourself, but not at the expense of someone else. Anyone found bullying, threatening, or defaming another user will be banned.”
— Grindr (@Grindr) June 1, 2020
Despite such measures, racism has persisted in the app and offenders simply get away with it, Lim says.
“I know of instances where after someone has been reported for racism or even other offences, they face zero consequences whatsoever,” he told the ABC’s Hack. “Grindr is not ever incentivised to crack down on these individuals. They only take immediate action against people trying to use their platform to advertise paid services.”
In Lim’s research, gay and bisexual Asian men repeatedly singled out Grindr as a site where they have experienced sexual racism.
“He says, ‘Send me a picture of your face.’ I send him a picture of my face, and he says, ‘Oh, you’re an Indian. I’m sorry.’ He then quickly blocked me,” user “James,” 28, shared in an article Lim had co-written for The Conversation.
Sexual racism can also be seen on the surface as some users explicitly reject specific ethnicities right in their profiles. This, they say, is simply “preference.”
“So many profiles had ‘not into Asians,’ ‘not into this [or that]’ … I was just so confused as to why that was. I was skinny, young, cute, and I thought that would be enough,” said user “Rob,” a 27-year-old Cambodian.
In its community guidelines, Grindr tells users that “you’re free to express your preferences, but we’d rather hear about what you’re into, not what you aren’t.” For reported violations, the app only says “we’ll take it from there.”
Grindr ran a “Kindr” campaign in 2017 in an effort to combat racism and discrimination. The initiative sought to ban the use of statements such as “No Asians” and “No Blacks” in bios, but “they just stopped it abruptly,” Lim said.
Feature Image via Getty