June marks the beginning of LGBT Pride month, but celebrating might be difficult for black LGBT Americans who face additional adversity due to ongoing police violence across the country. For nearly a week, Black Lives Matter protesters have taken to the streets of several U.S. cities to commemorate the lives of black citizens who’ve died at the hands of police, including George Floyd, Ahmaud Abery, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade, among others.
In response to the protests, and in an effort to discourage racism in the LGBT community, gay dating app Grindr announced that it would be removing the ethnicity filter from its list of dating preference options on Monday.
“Racism has no place in our community. To help do our part, we have decided to remove the ethnicity filter from the Grindr app. Once the filter is removed, users will no longer be able to filter profiles by ethnicity,” a spokesperson for the company said in an email to Built In. “We thank all of those that have provided feedback. We listened and we will continue to fight racism on Grindr, both through dialogue with our community and a zero-tolerance policy for hate speech on our platform.”
The LA-based company was set to announce its #PridePerseveres programming calendar for the month of June, but ultimately decided it would be more appropriate to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in a statement published to their Instagram.
“We can still come together in the spirit of Pride, but Pride this year has an added responsibility, a shifted tone, and a new priority that will be reflected in our programming—support and solidarity for queer people of color and the #BlackLivesMatter movement,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement.
A representative for the company informed Built In via email that although the ethnicity filter would be removed immediately, users may need to update to the latest version of the app for the change to go into effect.
“We stand in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the hundreds of thousands of queer people of color who log in to our app every day. We will not be silent, and we will not be inactive,” the company spokesperson continued.
While the general response to the move made by the company has been positive, some of the apps’ critics have argued that the app shouldn't have had an ethnicity filter in the first place, while others have said the decision to remove the filter will actually hurt queer and trans people of color that are looking to share space with one another.
“Some [people of color] have told me that they used the ethnicity filter to find people like themselves, perhaps not to date but for shared experiences and cultural understanding,” said British journalist Ben Hunte, in an article written for the BBC.
Ethnicity filters aren’t exclusive to Grindr, though. Notable online dating apps like OKCupid and Hinge both allow its users to filter out potential matches using similar features.
The company, founded in 2008, also announced that it would be making a donation to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute in the near future. The nonprofit organization was created to honor and continue the legacy of the black trans activist it was named after, famous for her participation in the Stonewall riots. The amount of the donation was not disclosed.
Grindr will hold a virtual fundraiser titled “Black and Queer: State of the Union” on its Instagram today at 2 p.m. PST. The event will be facilitated by Dana White, program officer for True Colors United, an LGBT+ organization focused on eliminating youth homelessness. The event will feature additional input from activists Phil Samba and Jon Paul. Proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit The Bail Project, a nonprofit group posting bail for arrested protesters.