REMILLARD: On Grindr and Internalized Homophobia

Christopher Remillard
Original Article:

There are two very distinct classes of people in the world: those who know exactly what Grindr is and those who have never heard of it. If you find yourself in the latter group, allow me to enlighten you.

Founded in 2009, Grindr is a mobile application aimed at gay and bisexual men that allows users to create a profile and interact with other users located around them. Since its inception, Grindr has become a staple of communication in the gay community, amassing more than 10 million users worldwide as of November 2014, according to Business Insider. Several other apps serving similar purposes have emerged since Grindr’s release, and despite the fact that most of them are, in my humble opinion, significantly more user-friendly, Grindr has maintained its position as the most popular gay social networking platform in the world.

I’m sure you’re asking yourself one question at this point: so what?

In theory, Grindr was intended to make communication between members of a socially marginalized group easier, and more or less, it has achieved that goal. However, in practice, Grindr has become a platform exhibiting the many ways in which the modern gay community has internalized homophobic tendencies. It’s no secret to users that Grindr is a “hook-up” app. Most utilize the app to find people with which to have sex. As a result, many profiles are limited to descriptions of users’ preferences in sexual partners, and such profiles far too often demonstrate a greater problem of internalized homophobia. Feminine men are often the target of offensive profiles that boast phrases such as “masc only,” “straight-acting men only” and “no femmes.” Many users on Grindr are exclusionary to men that don’t fit the mold of traditional masculinity.

Masculinity is seen as the ultimate goal for any man in our society: gay, straight or other. Those who subvert masculinity are often the targets of marginalization, and homophobia emerges out of the conception that all gay men are effeminate and flamboyant. We, as a society, and as a result of mass media marketing, lust after a very specific type of man: one that is traditionally masculine, rugged, usually white and always straight.

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