No Blacks, No Fats, No Fems
It occurs to me that the most appropriate way for one to begin a discussion about Grindr might be to explain Grindr itself. In short, it’s a gay dating app. The “Looking for” section does, in all fairness, include a “Networking” option but I can tell you assuredly that no business deals have been brokered on this app. I find it more likely that a job has been secured through Candy Crush.
And conceptually I think Grindr is truly exciting. It’s the intersection of technological advancement and queer normalization. Gay men are now proudly coming out more than ever before and part of that liberation is hooking up and having fun, just as our straight peers do. But it should be liberating for all of us.
When I scroll through Grindr it isn’t uncommon to read “no blacks”, “no fats” or “no fems”.
The latter meaning “no feminine gay guys” while the prior and the former are self-explanatory. Here we are. 2016! We’ve secured the right to marry, seen the nation’s first openly LGBT Governor, and have created a visibility for queer people that previously existed only in our dreams. But what this illustrates to me is that we still have a long way to go.
As long as injustice occurs anywhere, for any marginalized group, the LGBT community has a responsibility. It was not long ago that queer people who came before us were raided, beaten and jailed for defying societal norms. Today, people of color are being killed by law enforcement officers and incarcerated at rates much higher than that of their white counterparts. These are our brothers and sisters and we must think about them and the ways in which our words build them up or bring them down.
So when I see “no blacks” in your bio, I think less of you. When I see you passing racism off as preference and calling it acceptable, I think less of you. And I think less of you when I see “no fats” or “no fems” in your bio.
Living in a country that has made progress on LGBT rights does not mean we live in a country free of malice toward the gay community. The amount of people who demean and disrespect our existence has not reduced that drastically. What we need less than anything is to bully one another online with a fraction of the country still salivating at the idea of taking away our right to marry.
I don’t find it coincidental that most of these phrases come from blank profiles. But I hope you’re reading this. I hope you know that maintaining anonymity does not absolve you of responsibility for your words. I hope you understand that belittling feminine gay men will not make you feel better about yourself. And while you may take pride in your pseudo-masculinity, you still open Grindr every night after 11 pm and benefit from the hard work and activism of queer people who came before you. Many of whom, you should note, were drag queens and people of color and transgender.
Also, while the animal names thing is not technically offensive I do find it weird.