"We recognize that the queer community of color faces discrimination and racism as part of their regular lives," he said. "It is why Scruff is the only platform that vigorously enforces its community guidelines to ensure that harassment, racism and abuse doesn’t happen, and if it does it is dealt with swiftly."
When The Advocate published an article about Scruff making ethnicity optional in its user's profiles I kind of did a double take. on the one side, I did not recall that being there. On the other, it felt good to see that changes are being made to stymie systemic racism in gay hookup apps, something that has been discussed lately in several platforms.
I have to admit I don't remember clearly the details of my creating a profile in a hookup app. It's been awhile. But apparently I probably entered my ethnicity when I filled in the information required to let you log on it. Apart from age, email and location (which I think are needed for obvious reasons) there will be no more mandatory info asked to be filled in when creating a profile. A step in the right direction, they say. And I agree.
While being on the app, I imagine some guys did not talk to me (not even the cursory 'sup?') because my ethnicity was right there, on the profile or my photo told them all they wanted to know about me. But at the time, I guess that was not a big red flag for me because I was not on the app cruising for dick. That's a long story that probably deserves its own post. So I guess my self-esteem was not as linked to that profile as it may be the self-esteem of someone who is hoping to start a relationship or just share a good moment with another man. Having someone tell you something along the lines of 'you're good looking for a ______ but I'll pass' implicating that men of color are accidentally attractive should be infuriating and crushing in many ways. Apart from denying one of your attributes, it implies that you are the exception to a rule that marks you as 'less than'. And that's unacceptable.
I don't know about you, but the idea that your race or ethnicity could make you less desirable in the eyes of other gay men is something that many men deal with on the daily. There are countless videos on YouTube and many articles in blogs and sites that recount the misadventures of men that are told to their faces that they are 'less desirable' just because of their ethnicity or the color of their skin. And there's still people braying about Bannon being disinvited to a New Yorker event, where he would have yet another platform to discuss his ideas about white supremacy.
Not that all the men surfing for sex in the hookup apps are racists of Bannon's caliber, but I think it is that normalization of hate speech and blatant racism what gives so many men the excuse of posting 'no Blacks or Asians' o their profiles as being 'just a preference'. A preference that I could safely state in a hookup app is preferring the White Socks over the Cubs. Or favoring boxer briefs over thongs. But stating I would only let men of one race fuck me is well, overtly racist. And that is something that some men, swimming int he safe waters of their privilege, do not recognize.
So it's good for Scruff for not giving those whose 'preferred' race happens to be 'white' respite. Apparently Grindr is also starting its own initiative to 'educate' its racist, body-shaming and transphobic users on the art of... being inclusive. Online hookup apps may be useful in the search for dick online and that's a plus. But I guess that nowadays after knowing how these apps work, I'd still like to meet men the old fashioned way: face to face in a public place. Where I could read in his eyes and demeanor that he'd 'prefer' somebody with much less melanin. And then I could say that my 'preference in men is 'not racist'.
Art by Douglas Simonson