NAVIGATING DATING APPS: ONE QPOC’S EXPERIENCE
Gage. There have been many times when I have been on Grindr – a dating and/or hookup app for gay men – and I have received messages from folks, ranging from “you’re a racist” to “so why aren’t you into white guys?” Even when I use another gay dating/hookup app primarily used by people of color (POC), Jack’d, I still get those outrageous, obscene, racist messages. These types of actions really bring to light that there are racial disparities within the LGBT community. Whether you see them or not – they exist.
But let’s take a step back. When folks usually think of what a gay male looks like, they are usually envisioning a white, thin, blonde hair, and blue eyed guy. As we know – not all queer folks look like that. In my experience with online dating, I’ve found that for queer people of color (QPOC) like myself there really is no space that fosters healthy relationships while allowing folks to explore their own sexuality. At least via dating and/or hookup apps. This of course is all from personal experience and my understanding of things – which means, not all of the folks who have similar or the same identities as myself have had the same experiences. Everyone’s experiences are different, but that does not mean we need to look past the similarities we may have.
My experience has been that there are not a lot of guys in my geographic reach – the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area – that are truly and honestly for the empowerment of queer black folks. But, thankfully, I’ve encountered a couple of folks who have seemed to do exactly that. A lot of the time these folks who are supportive of these identities and/or share these similar identities are more centralized within the Detroit area. Once again, this really shines light on how infested the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area is with the stereotypical “I’m not racist… But I don’t date black guys” or “I’m not that interested. If you were white – it’d be different” type of folks.
Those few outliers give me hope that there are other QPOC out there in this non-sense world of online dating that are also looking to empower other QPOC.
As a whole, navigating online dating is quite the conundrum, especially for those folks who don’t fit into the mold of “the stereotypical gay” or have unique (yet beautiful) identities. But a word of advice to the other QPOC out there – 1) you’re beautiful, 2) support your other POC out there, and 3) you might be lost in a sea of whiteness and whitewashing, but you exist, you are here, and I acknowledge your being.