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“No Blacks.” “No Asians.” “No Hispanics.” “Whites only.”Is it racist? If you ask Joel Simkhai, the millionaire CEO of Grindr, he’ll tell you it’s preference.In a December 2016 interview with , he said, “To say, ‘I’m only into black guys’—is that a bad thing?
You have these [white] images that all gay people are seeing and this is what they identify with as they explore their sexuality through porn, billboards, and the media,” he said.“There’s always a fine line between expressing a preference and being a vile, disrespectful, and rude person on Grindr, but I’m just stating my preference because I don’t want to waste other people’s time.”Whether it be Caucasian men propositioning Theo to role play as a slave, or other Caucasian men entirely disregarding Edge and African American men across the board because of the colour of their skin, when contentions around desire and race are brought into the bedroom, it’s hard to dismiss them as simple ‘preferences’.
When Eric Silverberg and Johnny Skandros launched Scruff in October 2010, as a rival to Grindr, something extraordinary happened.
It started poaching users from the daddy of gay hookup apps, while luring others in who had never before been tempted to use their phone to find another man. It seemed edgier, yet friendlier – more inclusive for some.
Profiles also convey what members are looking for – some use this to express an apparent racial “preference”. Journalists and bloggers have reported and campaigned against it – a bubbling cry against a backdrop of shrugs, of people saying that supposed preference is innate, instinctive, and thus beyond society – outside of racism.
Anger, concern, and fears about sexual racism infecting both online dating and hookup apps have been brimming for years. So when Silverberg and Skandros beam into Buzz Feed News’ London office via Skype from New York, sitting side-by-side like plucky You Tubers, it isn’t long before the subject arises.
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