Opinion: Grindr Can't Be Kindr
Last month, Grindr unveiled a new site (kindr.grindr.com) that shows the Grindr logo accompanied by the word “Kindr” and voice over from various interviews about sexual discrimination. Although the changes aren’t set to appear until September of 2018, no change can make Grindr kinder. Its racial discrimination doesn’t come from the app itself but rather the people using it and a simple app update cannot change that.
The Grindr app is simply an application that allows people to talk to others within their immediate location- anything past that is up to the user. Whether it be drugs, sex, or discrimination, the application is simply a means for the user to interact. It is clear that Grindr is an app that facilitates a toxicity within the gay community but it only enhances the toxicity that is already there.
The first problem with the Kindr campaign is that Grindr itself has not changed. Their advertisements across all platforms have perpetuated the Eurocentric standards of beauty and lean towards a gay, white, muscular man. Advertisements (such as those pictured in this article) show stereotypically “hot” white men in groups, already excluding any other race or body type. In an effort to add more voices to their campaign, Grindr has begun to reach out to its users about being interviewed in Los Angeles on their experiences with sexual discrimination. However, their ad to join the interviews had a photo of toned, tall, mostly white men. If they are open to changing the discrimination within the app, they must stop perpetuating the idea that those are what ideal gay men look like. When every ad for Grindr shows a singular body type or a majority of one race, it is perpetuating the idea that those are the most desired kind of people. Grindr’s marketing, advertisements, and pages for products like “Grindr Premium” thrive on the objectification of one kind of man.
The second problem with the Kindr campaign is that people cannot change with an app update. Whether the update bans discrimination in bios or gives users an equal platform, people’s preferences cannot change. Our inner homophobia is rooted deep and our “types” are a collection of our upbringings. Every ad for a commercial, every billboard for Calvin Klein briefs, every popular gay character on television has been a certain kind of body and we’ve engrained it into our heads. What will make Grindr kinder is self-reflection: thinking about what you like and why you like it. Until then, all an update will do is take up a little more space on your phone.