Man's Grindr Messages Highlights Racial Issues in LGBT Community, Online Dating

May 31st 2017

A Louisiana police officer has been accused of reportedly sending racist Grindr messages to a black man who recently graduated from Louisiana State University (LSU).


In the messages sent over the gay dating app, which Charles Davis screen-captured and shared on Facebook, the anonymous user used racist expletives. As seen in the message, the user then went on to accuse Davis of stealing his college cap and gown.

“Girl. All the way down. I’m degreed and unbothered. Be Blessed,” Davis wrote in response to the insults.

The user continued to address Davis with racist expletives, calling him a “black ratchet.”


Police in Gonzales, Louisiana, were alerted to the exchange after a member of the Gonzales Police Department was reportedly tagged in the post. Reports say the tag has since been removed, with Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson confirming that an investigation into the allegations will take place.

Jackson told WBRZ of Baton Rouge that a formal complaint hasn't been filed outside of the Facebook post.

While the current case in Louisiana is in the early stages of investigation, racism and racial bias has garnered serious concern in the online dating world, with other users coming forward with their own racist experiences.

Often masked as "preferences," negative notices targeting people of color are widespread on dating apps like Grindr.

In a study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, Australian researchers found that 64 percent of men find it acceptable to “state a racial preference” on an online dating profile, yet only 46 percent of study respondents said that these preferences didn't bother them.

“While society is generally pretty comfortable condemning racism, there has been a surprising reluctance among people — gay or otherwise — to challenge racialized sex and dating practices,” said Denton Callander, the study's co-author, to the Daily Beast.

The topic has garnered widespread editorial attention over the last few years, and some believe apps like Grindr and Scuff aren’t doing enough to combat the racism among its users.

However, research suggests that racial bias - which can be seen in the LGBT community, too - is more than just a preference.

“...it sounds great — it would be great to foster a kinder community, potentially. But we're a platform where we want people to meet. That's not my job, to solve societal problems,” said Grindr CEO Joel Simkhai in a 2016 interview with Broadly. “To say, 'I'm only into black guys' — is that a bad thing? I think we should allow you to say that, because that's your preference.”

The Fact Site, a U.K. publication sponsored by The Health Equality and Rights Organization pulled more than 850 gay men from different racial and ethnic backgrounds and found that more than two-thirds of the men from minority communities had experienced racism in the LGBT community.

While racism in the LGBT community has gained recent media attention, racial bias in dating and hookup culture is by no means limited to the LGBT community.

OkCupid found in 2014 that white men rated black women as 18 percent less attractive than the average woman on the dating platform, and Latino men rated black women as 22 percent less attractive. Similarly, white women rated Asian men as 12 percent less attractive than the average man, while Asian women rated Latino men as 12 percent less attractive.

Sites including OkCupid, which are largely used for heterosexual dating, have also included questions regarding race, and racial bias continues to be an issue across the spectrum of dating platforms.

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