Last Friday, Grindr posted a cryptic video on Instagram that teased an upcoming initiative called "Kindr."
The details were vague. A graphic reading "Kindr: It's time to play nice" was overlaid with audio of men discussing different forms of discrimination.
"When someone says something like 'I don't date black people' ... that would be referred to as 'sexual racism,'" a voice said, before being joined by a flurry of other voices complaining of labels like "black fantasy" and "rice queen."
That same day, the website Kindr.grindr.com appeared. The home page featured the same graphics and audio clip as the Instagram post. In the background, a pink curtain billowed. A date, September 19, was listed for the unveiling.
Landen Zumwalt, Grindr's head of communications, confirmed that Kindr is an upcoming initiative that is the "first step of many" in fighting racism, transphobia, and body-shaming on the gay dating app.
Grindr released the following statement to The Advocate:
Sexual racism, transphobia, fat-shaming and other forms of discrimination are major issues that pervade our community – issues that we as a community need to address. As the leader in the gay dating space, Grindr has a responsibility to not only protect our users, but to take a stand on these issues and lead by example.
Grindr has a new suite of queer leadership - myself included - who share this same mission to take much-needed action, make impactful changes in the app and use Grindr's enormous power to do good for greater LGBTQ+ community.
Our upcoming "Kindr" initiative, which is built around education, awareness and specific policy changes in the Grindr app, will serve as the first step of many Grindr will be taking to help foster a more inclusive and respectful community on our platform.
From its onset, Grindr has drawn criticism for the racist statements of some of its users. Profiles with text like "no fats, no femmes, no Asians" have made the app feel exclusionary to members of marginalized communities. In a recent commentary for The Advocate, Sinakhone Keodara said he is considering suing Grindr for the "hostile atmosphere" created by this racist messaging.
"Especially when expressed en masse, these (non)preferential expressions have the insidious tendency to create a hostile atmosphere that is unwelcoming, threatening, and disturbing to the queer men and young boys of color against whom such (non)preferences are directed," Keodara wrote.
Kindr was greeted with some skepticism on social media. But it was also hailed as a step in the right direction by some activists.
Very excited for this Kindr @Grindr Movement!
— The Vixen (@TheVixensworld) July 27, 2018
It shouldn’t have to take a company to create a whole ass app for queer people to be kind/better to one another when the whole world isn’t kind to us.
But, here we are.
I appreciate them setting precedence tho.
— DoctorJonPaul (@DoctorJonPaul) July 28, 2018
This looks like a positive step toward rectifying sexual racism on your platform. I commend you guys for listening to our plea for change. I anticipate seeing developments on this issue with great hope. #Grindr #Lawsuit #SexualRacism #Gaysian #GaysiansAgainstDiscrimination
— Sinakhone Keodara (@frogseatmoon) July 29, 2018