BLOCKED ON GRINDR: In the world of dating apps, race is a major factor By Kaj Hasselriis for DAILYXtra


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By Kaj Hasselriis for DAILYXtra

Neil Chaudhury wants to stop doing it. But like so many other gay guys in Toronto, the recent George Brown grad desires a boyfriend, or at least the chance to meet someone new. So Chaudhury goes on Grindr, the notorious hook-up app, even though it means risking another hit to his self-esteem.

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He thumbs through other guys’ profiles and sees warnings like “No Asians.” Fellow users sometimes ask him, “Do you smell like curry?” Almost always, guys ask, “Where are you from?” When he responds, “India,” the conversation often ends there.

“I feel like there is a lot of stigma attached to being a gay person of colour in Toronto,” Chaudhury says. “I start doubting my own identity. I internalize it and think maybe there’s something wrong with me. Over time, I start believing these negative things. I think, I’m South Asian and it’s not a good thing.”

Chaudhury has lived in Canada for almost three years, and, in that time, he’s never been turned down face-to-face because of his race. But the online dating world is an alternate universe where people express things they wouldn’t in real life — and it’s not just gay men.

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Muna Mire, a recent University of Toronto grad, was excited when she first joined the dating website OkCupid. She advertised herself to men and women and started sending messages to both. What Mire got in response surprised her: a few curt responses saying, “Sorry, I’m not that into black girls.” Then she noticed people pointing out the same thing in their profiles, too, right next to preferences like “Must love dogs” and “No smokers, please.”

“It’s jarring that someone would write you off as a person without even getting to know you,” Mire says. “Black women look all different kinds of ways. It’s a matter of the door being closed to you as a human being based on something completely arbitrary. And I’ve experienced this from both men and queer women, so it’s not really a gendered thing.”

Jaime Woo, author of the book Meet Grindr: How One App Changed the Way We Connect, says he never realized how much race matters in the dating world until he started advertising himself online. “I never really thought of race as a first step in terms of who I am,” he says. Then he discovered that his white friends get two to three times more responses on Grindr than he does. One day, Woo switched his profile photo from a face picture to a headless torso shot (not uncommon on Grindr) and his response rate spiked. But when guys asked for a corresponding face pic and discovered Woo is Asian, he got blocked, meaning the exchange was over.

Nowadays, it’s common for apps and websites like Grindr and OkCupid to ask users to identify themselves by race — and many do. It gives the impression that race is, indeed, just another preference, like enjoying long walks on the beach. But is it? “It’s not just a matter of preference; it really isn’t,” Mire says, and for evidence, she points to statistics from OkCupid.


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  1. I don’t feel that it is racist it just what sexually attracts you just like beard, muscles, bears, over weight, slim, manly, girly nickers, nappies, daddies, etc.

  2. Listen, this only makes headlines because of the manner in which it’s happening. Chosing someone you prefer is as is as old as time. Because someone’s not attracted to people of a certain race, religion, age, whatever, all of a sudden it’s worthy of a story. Granted people could consider the other person’s feelings. But what can we expect from a society that uses electronic devices to text, email, browse the Net? Decency and courtesy are becoming more like attributes vs common sense…that’s yet another.

    Being shocked about it is kind of taking it to the extreme. I’ve been ignored and overlooked because I don’t have a common look. I’m not saying I’m hideous but I’m 6′ 6″, not a Greek god, many have assumed I’m gay while others haven’t a clue. Thing is, I’ve mostly stopped caring what others think, it’s a work in progress. Have I totally gotten away fom what they think? No. It’s a constant reminder at times. Going new places I worry, Are people to seeing me and thinking, why does he have such a unique voice! Or is he a big ol fag? I do wonder what people take away after meeting me. Maybe I’m hyper critical because of my insecurities. But I remind myself, I’m me, I’m 42 and I’m not going to be here forever. If I struck someone wrong or they made all these opinions, so be it. I can’t help or I’d man of these attributes.

    But to bring this full circle, it’s not a big deal. We can’t expect we’re going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Maybe some are racist but maybe some just aren’t into this or that. Don’t worry about the fish you didn’t catch, focus on the one you eventually did. We can all claim we caught the big one and he got away. End of the day, people only care sbout what they can see vs what they can’t. And how that relates, stop being upset about the one that got away or maybe you wanted one fish and you caught another.

    Do I empathize with them? Yes. But it stops there. It’s foolish to be upset. Not every white guy wants an Asian. Not every black wants Hispanic. Not every Asian wants South Asian. And on it goes…And that’s just as ok as those who do. It’s no reason to cry, complain, or write an article. I mean just because the people featured above are ok with being with someone of a different race, it shouldn’t be expected or assumed the other person is. It’s a two way street. You can expect or assume that just because you’re in the same or similar community it’s going to be all puppies, sunshine, and rainbows. There are as many variations as there are people.

  3. I agree with Phantom. When you use an app like ‘Grindr’, you’re basically putting yourself on display for sexual hookups, not meaningful friendships or long-term relationships. Sure, you might make a few friends or even find the love of your life on Grindr, but be honest – it’s an app for hooking up. Therefore, while people might not consider your race/ethnicity as an important factor for friendship, they’re not looking for friendship – they are looking for sex! If they happen not to be sexually attracted to ‘Asians’, for example, that’s the same as not being attracted to blonds or redheads. They just don’t find those physical attributes sexually attractive. It’s not racist.

    Personally, I don’t find a lot of Asian men sexually attractive either, but there are exceptions. Every once in a while there will be some guy who catches my eye. That doesn’t mean I’m racist. I also don’t find a lot of Caucasian men attractive – twinks, guys who shave their body hair or are completely hairless, etc.

    I have hooked up with Asian men before, as well as Aboriginals, and even a few gingers!

    I guess the difference is that I don’t specify in my profile that I’m “not into” certain races. Those who do are probably just trying to save everyone time. If they are not into Asians as a sexual preference, then stating so will just save both parties time and rejection.

    Does not being into women make me sexist??

  4. Sometimes,the people who feel like they are in the majority,don’t see what people who are marginalized see. There is nothing wrong with preference,but this goes beyond preference. Asking someone if they smell like curry or cutting off the conversation when they say they from india,shows your an asshole and possibly racist. I once had a guy tell me that,he couldn’t date dark skinned black men,they had to be a certain color black or he couldn’t date them. So,if you run in to this on dating sites or apps,you start to wonder,what the fuck is wrong with people? I’m not singling out one race. But the article is correct,in some circles the standard of beauty is white,and variations from that unless they are considered “hot” don’t make the cut. SicilianMonkey say these guys should get over it. But,how would you feel,if your skin color/ethnicity was the only thing that people pointed to that they found unattractive? This isn’t just about racism,it’s about conditioning people to find one standard of beauty as the norm and making other people who don’t fit feel like their less than. If you don’t see that,that’s because you’ve never experienced it and can’t understand it from their prospectives.

  5. I am certainly not racist. There is nothing I like more than a BBC. However, I believe it is simply a matter of preference. I do not get offended when someone says they are not into little cocks. That is something I have no control over. I was made that way. The person who doesn’t like small cocks is dismissing me without knowing who I am.

  6. Can I just point out the automatic assumption that every man who has rejected these two men in this article are white? Mr Chaudhury could have very well been rejected by a similar amount of asian, african or hispanic men if not more

    In any given subsection of society there will be superficial people who like what they like and wont entertain an alternative. I’m sure every overweight woman will testify that it’s not merely a gay issue, so let’s not make it one.

    It sucks, but people will like what they like and it’s their prerogative whether they wish to cut themselves off from the opportunity to explore more. As I tell myself when someone decides they’re not into me or suddenly stop talking etc – it’s their loss. I’m a 6’3 24yo well endowed relatively attractive Scotsman, I’d plank myself right in the average range and do well enough with it. Have enough self respect to know that people who can dismiss others so quickly are people with whom you will never, thankfully, have a future with.

  7. I find this article and some comments preposterous. I am Hispanic and have been an immigrant for over 25 years in a country I consider one of the most liberal and accepting.. Canada! To bring racism and discrimination into the sexual arena is just ludicrous!! Throughout my sexually active life I’ve been rejected because I’m Hispanic, too fat, too skinny, uncut, not hairy enough, too short or because I don’t quite fill in the Hispanic stereotype (not a Ricky Martin or Enrique Iglesias type her.. lol) and now for another statistic… because I’m too old. But then again, I have been accepted and have had a great time because of the same reasons. “Discrimination”, “Racism” at a social level is a different thing and yes, I have experienced that as well. The only difference, I have never cried “foul” I just acknowledged people’s ignorance and moved on…

  8. OK. My response it not going to be very popular but, then again, I’ve never really worried about that. I remember this racism on Grindr ballyhoo started with an article on about a profile of white man, from Toronto, who said, “I’m blocking more Asians than the great wall of China.” I don’t use Grindr myself but I do use Scruff and Growlr. I just got back from London (Ontario don’t get excited) pride and let me tell you from the minute my location switched from Toronto to London,ON my iPhone was “blowing up” with fuck date requests. In fact, I was getting “please fuck me” requests almost 24 hours a day! WEEEE! However there’s another side to Woo’s story he’s not saying.

    I have many, many white gay friends who tell me to my face they would NEVER date “Asian” or even fuck one. Why? The part Woo doesn’t mention is, and this does not apply to all them, is he neglects to ask white man why he wouldn’t sleep with an Asian. (Now I have to clarify by Asian we are specifically talking Chinese not Filipino, Japanese or Thai. I personally think that Japanese and Filipino men are some of the hottest men on the planet but I digress.) So let’s flip the word Asian to Chinese to be more specific. Most of my white friens will not sleep Chinese men because of three top reasons:

    1) They are extremely pushy.
    2) They are extremely rude or are relentless when they want a white man?
    3) Believe it or not there are many Chinese men who are extremely racist to men of colour.

    So with that being said I have a very hard type swallowing the sticky rice of racism which Woo professes is out there against Chinese men. I’ve heard many, many, many complaints from white men about Chinese men and how they are worse than bill collectors when they want white cock. However…

    On the flip side I have been to the US and seen profiles, even with Obama, in office that read “No blacks sorry I’m not racist it’s just a preference” and you know what I’m OK with that. Why is is considered racist when a white man doesn’t want to fuck one race over the other. As long as he’s not wearing a Klan hood I get it. I’m NOT attracted to skinny, lean, thin, men. I love men with curves and muscles. But on the flip side I put in my profile No chubbies! Does that make chubbyphobic? I don’t think so. So why it one step below joining the KKK for white men to say “No Asians or Blacks” when it’s prefernce?

    I think many gay men are living in this unicorn, rainbows and Care Bear world where we are supposed to love each other as gay men. That is certainly not a case. How do I know? Try this. Go a circuit event any where in the world and watch what happens when a 400lbs man enters the room. If you want this utopian gay world we have to change the idea of what typical gay man looks like right from the coming out process. As many gay men get their ideals of what gay men should look like from porn, and we all know that change isn’t happeneing anytime soon.

  9. I have just read this article and frankly it sickens me on how people talk to one another.
    Honestly I am not attracted to Asians in that way but I would never post directly in my profile “No Asians”. There is something called diplomacy. There are ways of searching for your potential partner without having to segregate people in groups of likes and dislikes. Tack is what should be used here.

    I know from experience and also for being in the gay scene since i was 26 (for those who want to know the math I am 56 now so that would be 26 years in out)

    I have always had a battle with my weight. At times my self image is at the all time low. Other times I feel good about myseld. But that’s the same for all of us I think.

    Thanks to this Helen Gurly Brown posting a centerfold of Burt Reynolds years ago, it has left an indelible impression and now it is what every one has to aspire to. The media, television and even this site itself puts in the forefront the muscled and trim fit male before anything else. Why? Because most of us have fallen into that trap of this is what beauty is suppose to look like. So untrue. Beauty comes from within actually. You can be the most beautiful physical specimen there is and still be an A-hole. Am I right?

    If you ever have or ever get the chance to see the films “The Butch Factor” and “The Adonis Factor” it outlines our culture to a tea. It should make you think actually.

    WE cry we want to be inclusive to the heterosexual community yet we have a serious rise is segregation and discrimination amongst our very own.

    Think twice about how you post things online in what you are seeking. After all those remarks can be just as easily said about you too. I am sure it don’t make you feel all that great. Unless of course you have an ego the size of a country. LOL

    Just be happy with who you are and what you are. Build your confidence within yourself and I am sure that will attract all kinds of people. Confidence (without being cocky) is compelling to most.


  10. If you think you got problems now just wait until you are over 40. Or over 30.
    I live in a small city with very few people of color. If you put “no Asians” or “no Blacks” in your hook up profile, most here would consider you uncouth and uncivilized. And rightly so.
    But it is perfectly OK here to show utter contempt and disdain for older guys here.

  11. Be nioe and kind to one another makes the world better place to enjoy sex.

  12. Did anyone here who thinks it is not a big deal, and I agree that it should not be, listen to or read Obama’s speech after the Zimmerman verdict? He pointed out that things all Black men experience are: 1] being followed around in a store on suspicion of potential shop lifting 2] hearing car door locks click to locked when they walk by a car at an intersection, 3] white women in elevators moving away and clutching their purses/clutches a bit tighter and more uncomfortably when a Black man get on.

    I experienced this while hanging out for 10 years with a black friend – in Canada. Some say in the comments to just forget the Grindr jerks, that it is not you and to get over it. When when you experience that shunning and discrimination every day and many times every day, and then on Grindr too – by your own discriminated against community too, it is a bit much. Your self identity weakens, then cracks, dies a little and possibly crumbles. Do this to a white child from birth, calling him/her less than on a daily basis and consistently in words and more importantly, in your every action with him/her, That child will crumble and have serious questions about his/her place in the world and about self WORTH.

    So it is a BIG deal. Own up to it and figure it out for you. It is tough. I recently called my self out on a group of people I thought I was not into, and chose to look at them differently, and I have met some wonderful new friends and sex partners. Not every one of that group, of course, but I have enlarged my world. You’ll say it is not that simple. That is probably true. But challenge you self to be aware of what you do and then, possibly, you may grow. We share this planet and country and no one deserves to be minimalized for any reason.

  13. I have many partners in different races from irish to japanese. Never had a black man but always wanted to. Im native american and know how the doors close when they know your race, but i’ve had more positive than negative. If you find a person who is closed minded and won’t see you for you then they are not worth your time and energy. I want everyone to enjoy sex and relationships but do it on your own terms and change for nobody. stay stong

  14. SicilianMonkey, yeah….that’s original. Yeah, I could totally take you to task for that but there’s a higher road here. I might not be of color but because I’m not Men’s Health cover model material I’ve been overlooked. I’ve had some less than flattering things said about me. It doesn’t matter if you’re husky, fat, Asian, black, cut/uncut, short, tall, whatever. If you’d read what I said and taken the time to let it sink in, I stated that just because we don’t appeal to one person doesn’t mean we won’t to another. My point is, we have have a certain type we’re attracted to. And if you’re on Squirt or any other site, you can’t naturally expect that just because we all like dick we’re all going to be drawn to each other. I love non fat, iced, Venti mochas from Starbucks. Doesn’t mean because I do everyone else will. There are other menu choices. We can’t assume everyone that likes Starbucks will like the same one.

    So there’s less confusion this time: If someone isn’t attracted to you, who cares! That’s rejection and in the neighborhood of negativity…if you own the rejection. But if you brush it off and search for one that IS in to you, that’s where you put your energy. It’s my regret I had to further illustrate my point, that my original post wasn’t concise enough for everyone to get.

  15. God, in the PC world, now because I’m only generally attraced to white men, I’m racist? Look, here’s the facts. When I’m on sites like this I’m looking for a hook-up. I don’t want friends, a boyfriend, I want sex. And when I want sex, I want to be turned on and, jeez, physically attracted to the guy. Look at the photographs of men in gay publications – how many Chinese or Indian men are there? What about porn? When I dated women, I liked simple, unpretentious women who took care of themselves and didn’t gob on the makeup or cheap dollar store jewellery. Does that make me sexist? Yeah, from these guys perspective, online chat can be very derogatory. But on the flip side, there are some men who won’t take no for answer and have to be blocked. I also block men that I’m not interested in sexually so that I do not private message them again. The curry comment is definitely racist in my opinion. But because I’m not attracted to anything but Caucasian men, and some Hispanic, does not make me racist. I just want sex with a man that turns me on.

  16. Seems to me that this could be a one sided story. Wonder if either of these guys have ever knocked back sex offered through any of these sites? Might they also be deemed racist or discriminatory in some manner? Just wondering?????????

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