It’s not ‘just a preference,’ it’s just racist

By Managing Editor

Many might only expect to see the phrases “no blacks” or “no Asians” within the pages of a civil rights history textbook, but a quick visit to the popular gay dating app “Grindr” often proves otherwise.

“Grindr” has succeeded in providing an online network meant to help gay people meet, especially those in smaller, suburban or rural areas of the country. But within this cyber-community, the app has also served as an enabler for hatred and discrimination.

Tucked into thousands of users’ profiles are brash and offensive disclaimers about their sexual preferences. Common tags include “no fats” or “no fems,” indicating an aversion to overweight or feminine men. Some of the more offensive tags, however, draw connections between specific races and various types of food, such as “no rice” or “no curry” to discourage Asian or Indian men from messaging.

“It’s only a preference,” is the argument users of these disclaimers make to defend their actions, but that does not change their preferences, which are rooted in racism.

An Australian study published in July 2015 by sex researchers Denton Callander, Christy E. Newman and Martin Holt asked more than 2,000 gay and bisexual men to complete an online survey about race and dating as well as the Quick Discrimination Index, which measures general attitudes about race and diversity. 

Titled “Is Sexual Racism Really Racism? Distinguishing Attitudes Toward Sexual Racism and Generic Racism Among Gay and Bisexual Men,” the study found “almost every identified factor associated with men’s racist attitudes was also related to their attitudes toward sexual racism.”

According to the online survey, a shocking 64 percent of participants agreed that it is acceptable to specify a racial preference in a dating profile, and 46 percent of participants said seeing these preferences noted in tags did not bother them. Additionally, 70 percent of participants said they did not view sexual racism as an actual form of racism. 

However, a comparison between the online survey and the QDI results showed men who express sexual racism typically displayed a generally racist attitude. These results suggest sexual racism is likely fueled by overall racist attitudes.

Racial discrimination on gay dating apps is not a matter of mere aesthetic preferences but is instead a result of general racism.

Even more concerning than the general acceptance of sexual racism is that the apps enable it. Some of the most popular gay dating apps like “Grindr,” “SCRUFF” and “GROWLr” allow users to filter their matches based on race.

This only reinforces people’s beliefs that sexual racism is acceptable and not actually a form of racism.

Sexual racism is indeed a form of racism, and gay dating apps should step in to minimize the prevalence of this discrimination by disabling settings that allow users to filter based on race.