Friday, June 03, 2016

The Queer World Is Not White Dominated


When I hear or read someone say “only into black” or “only into white,” or any other “only into” anything, I just pity that person because I understand he or she is limiting their own experiences. There are a lot of interesting people I have met through the years and I would never have met those people had I been one of those “only this” or “only that” individuals.

Unfortunately, that is not how everyone feels.

Recently there was an article on Mic about this situation. The writer, Mathew Rodriguez, a queer Latino man, wrote that gay white men are living it up in the privilege of being white in mainstream America and that “the most casual and most common place minority gays experience racism is in interactions on apps like Grindr, which to some degree have replaced gay bars as a nexus for dating and hookups.”

Now, when I read that I see someone who bought and drank the Kool-Aid. That is, that the world dominated by gay white men is the only world that exists. For example, if you happen to have believed in the fake news, from places like BuzzFeed, that claim Grindr is “The World’s Most Popular Dating Apps For Gay Dudes” then you would feel that gay white men dominate the world.

For me, Grindr is a white man’s hook up app the same way that Blued is an Asian man’s hook up app. Similarly, I look at Disponivel as a Latino man’s hook up app. When I think of Radar, the app version of Adam4Adam, I think of an app in which men of color are disproportionately represented. That is, the percentage of men of color of this app’s membership is higher than the percentage of men of color in general. I have had a profile on BlackPlanet since the early 2000s—long before there were apps. Omar Wasow, a Kenyan born Internet genius, created this Black-centered social website, which now also has an app. Millions of gay black sex took place through that system.

For a book I’m working on, I looked at 1,000 profiles in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Miami metro areas in the Adam4Adam system. I found more people of color who pointed out their ethnic preferences (and many of them complaining about the others approaching them) than white men. I suspect it has to do with the fact that many white men know the higher percentage of men of color in that system and going after it. When I did the same with Grindr in India, Germany, and Brazil, it was a different thing I noticed. People were just not into tourists. “No foreigners” generally meant don’t talk to me if you’re not Indian, German, or Brazilian. Never once did I see white men say “only whites” in Brazil on Grindr, just like I had not seen that in India.

The truth of the matter is that Grindr is not that popular. Blued is ten times more popular than Grindr. While Grindr has 2 million daily users, most of them in the North America and Europe, Blued has 27million users, most of them in Asia. That is why Blued is valued double in the economy of the gay apps market with $300 million while Grindr is valued at $150 million.  

As someone who has used all of these apps, because I’m someone interested in everyone, I have seen it all. Yet, I keep in mind that there are actually less white men who point out their ethnic preferences than others because other ethnic groups do that by using their own ethnic-specific apps. If you’re a Chinese guy on Blued there is no reason to say you’re into Asian men, as most of the profiles are Asian.

What folks of color need to do is to stop believing in lies. If you want to live in non-white dominated world then go find that world instead of lurking in the white dominated world, believing in the lies you’re fed and feeling bad about it. 

Note about the image: Kevin Phillips's image is about  golf, as described by About, it is "(also known as "winter rules") a condition that exists by local rule only and under which golfers are, on certain parts of a golf course, allowed to improve their lies without penalty." But, God damn it, it fits so good here!

Afdhere Jama is the author ofQueer Jihad”. His other books includeIllegal CitizensandBeing Queer and Somali”. He was the editor of Huriyah, a queer Muslim magazine, from 2000 to 2010. He lives in the United States.