Welcome to the digital age, where online dating has blossomed into a world of edgy named dating apps. From your typically vanilla Tinder, to more specific apps like Bristlr that allows those with a love of facial hair to find the Hagrid of their dreams and Jswipe, matchmaking users into finding their Jewish sweetheart, the 21st century has proved to be a can of worms for finding everything from a soulmate to a hookup. And of course, queen bee of the dating app world, let alone the gay world, is Grindr, joined by the likes of similar apps Hornet, Scruff, and Jack’d.
Love it or hate it, Grindr, the “gay GPS”, has been nothing less than a revolutionary and cultural phenomenon. It has opened up a new dimension of finding and practising homosexual identity, allowing gay men from all backgrounds – and backgrounds less favourable of us gays – to express who they are, where they are, and, typical of Grindr, what they want; now.
So when the app is opened to hear that painfully familiar screech of a notification sound and see users displaying “No fats. No femmes. No Asians. No Blacks. My age or younger,” it’s a little disheartening to say the least. We get it, everyone has “preferences” and types, but by rejecting any diversity, such Grindr users are using filtering to disguise the racist beefcake they truly are. Dating apps seem to be replacing a thriving culture of sexual identity and freedom with rooted social issues and segregation. It’s amazing how we’ve spring-boarded into a new world of finding love, only to be dragged right back into the 1950s.
Find hot racists and misogynists near you!
Alternatively, those same EDL-resembling and probably UKIP-voting users stating that they want Asian/Black men only are just as bad. Reducing a race or group of people for a short term sexual partner is fetishism; nothing less. There’s a fine line between taste and festishisation.
And with that eye-roll worthy tagline, “masc for masc”, “no femmes” and “str8 acting”, in creeps the misogyny. I know what you’re thinking, “oh god he’s talking about sexism when there’s only men involved”, but by perpetuating and grounding what masculinity actually is and rejecting the ideologies of traditional femininity, it is, well, sexist. Oh patriarchy, how you always manage to find a way, don’t you? Not only is it sexist, but it devalues gay men who may not fit into the typical and traditional form of masculinity.
This rejection of widely acknowledged and embraced homosexual identity could strongly be suggested as internalised homophobia. By rejecting the way that certain gay men behave, is to refer to a heteronormative way of being , living and seeing that as the dominant. Not pretty. Described as “the self-hatred that occurs as a result of being a socially stigmatized person” by academic John Locke, internalised homophobia is yet another wall perpetuating negative stereotypes for gay men. Really, really not pretty.
Though as a “white twink” (if we’re really labelling) who isn’t particularly camp who can’t really experience this cyber-fascism on a first hand basis, it’s important to highlight these rooted issues that are being actively voiced through dating app platforms.
Persecuting each other for our differences isn’t working for us. It doesn’t allow us to address many of the greater issues facing the queer community.
Please oh please, make sure you do not hook up with these people. We’re sorry, they’re just not our type.
Words – Dean Eastmond