In a world where discrimination easily gets disguised as ‘preference’, online dating becomes the space where one’s sense of self suffers at the hands of racism, fem-shaming, fat-shaming and so on, every single discriminative comment leaving a permanent mark in the esteem of another person. ‘Only now are we seeing the detrimental effects on our community, from problems of how we treat one another, low self-esteem, to more extreme forms of depression and mental health issues – even suicide.’ Comments Lee Valls, Psychotherapist. Chappy, the new gay dating app offering solutions for those seeking both Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now, aims to tackle the problem head on by introducing a first-of-its-kind Pledge.
The founders of Chappy, Jack Rogers, Max Cheremkhin and Ollie Locke, joined us to discuss this new initiative:
Tell us about your Pledge
The Chappy Pledge is a declaration every Chappy user must sign promising that they will be respectful to all users. At Chappy, we believe beauty is found in the way you treat others. Discrimination by race, religion, disability, gender identity, age or anything else is strictly forbidden. By using Chappy, you commit to treating your fellow members with respect, kindness and honesty; without judgement or bias. We care about the community and we want people to enjoy dating, not feel alienated. From our market research, we found that people weren’t being respectful on gay dating apps and we wanted to get in front the issue and address it. Chappy is a space in which you can celebrate your differences.
Why did you decide to introduce it?
We saw a few profiles in our initial launch period that made us all feel uncomfortable. It highlighted the need for The Pledge, we wanted to ensure that Chappy didn’t become another platform where people felt that behaviour was OK, or that other users had to put up with discriminatory behaviour. The Pledge was a team project, born from experiences and research. We drew on the strengths of everyone at Chappy – having a diverse company helped shape The Pledge creatively, but it also ensured it had real nuance in market.
How did you select your participants for the campaign?
We interviewed 40 diverse gay men and simply listened to their stories. It was cathartic and, empowering, we really wanted to change the existing market offering and give the community something new, something valuable. We finally chose 16 men, took the concept to production house, Pink Banana, which helped us produce the final product.
How can readers be assured of the effect of your pledge as opposed to other terms & conditions? How does the pledge set itself apart?
We wanted to take The Pledge out of T&C’s territory, and really make people think about their actions, accountability is important, especially on a platform designed to be transparent. We’ve received a huge amount of heartwarming messages and heartbreaking stories since launching The Pledge. People suddenly saw an alternative, they were grateful and that was especially emotional for us. It helped motivate us to push The Pledge as far as we could. Without sharing personal stories there was just a sense of relief and gratitude for what we are trying to do. We’ve seen real evidence that we’re building the foundations of a safer space.
How will rule breakers be policed?
We have 500 global moderators who are kept up to date on various unacceptable terms. We also call upon users to report anything that may have slipped through the net. We’re actively doing what we can to stamp out all ‘isms’ on our platform. Ageism, fatism, racism – all of them.
Sometimes discrimination is so deeply ingrained in one that it doesn’t necessarily manifest through abuse, but it can consciously or unconsciously involve the avoidance of certain types of people by swiping left based on traits like race, religion, etc. How does Chappy aim to combat that and make their users see beyond judgement or bias?
We accept we may never eradicate prejudice from within the gay community, we are, as a brand taking steps to protect people from having to even see profiles with things such as sexual ‘preferences’. We believe listing these ‘preferences’ is inherently discriminatory and there is no place for discrimination on Chappy. It’s a long battle to overcome inherent prejudicial behaviour and this is but the first small step we are taking to actively change people’s perceptions. We want to encourage people to question their ideals and their approach when it comes to digital dating. We don’t hope to solve it with just The Pledge, but it’s a very important first step to first recognise the problem and raise awareness within the gay community.
This global campaign aims to combat prejudicial language and attitudes by reassuring users that the Chappy platform remains a safer, responsible and transparent platform. By pairing their terms and conditions with a moving short film, collecting the honest accounts of individuals who have dealt with such prejudice on online dating platforms, Chappy sets out to mould the defective popular mindset associated with digital dating into one of inclusivity and acceptance. The film will appear both in cinemas and online, putting the audience face to face with the stories of 16 men, all which have been discriminated against, sometimes with a long term impact.
All new and existing users now must sign The Chappy Pledge, committing to to be considerate to fellow users. Users found not to be adhering to the pledge will be banned. Permanently. #DontBeADick
The Chappy Pledge:
‘At Chappy we believe beauty is found in the way you treat others. Discrimination by race, religion, disability, gender identity, age or anything else is strictly forbidden. By using Chappy, you commit to treating your fellow members with respect, kindness and honesty, without judgement or bias. We care about the community and we want people to enjoy dating.’