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When Grindr for Equality and the MENA Organization for Services, Advocacy, Integration & Capacity Building (MOSAIC) set out to document the experiences of Grindr users in the Middle East and North Africa, it was important to all of us that we dig deeper than the typical topics that come up when people talk about anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the region.
While we asked the nearly 2,000 respondents how many had experienced violence (35%), faced employment discrimination (50%) and housing discrimination (15%) because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, we also fielded questions that would bring out the stories of LGBTQ resilience. We wanted to specifically highlight those who are building happy queer lives for themselves, even when surrounded by people and institutions who are working hard against us.
For instance, despite a common belief that coming out to families is impossible in the region, a full 29% said their parents knew about their sexual orientation or gender identity, and 6% even said their families fully accepted them for who they are.
It was equally thrilling to see the number of people who reported self-acceptance. Nearly three quarters of those who answered the survey (72%) said they are happy with their sexual orientation or gender identity. One respondent wrote, “In spite of all the suffering and risks, I am happy and proud of my sexual orientation – I wouldn’t want to be anyone else.”
The most interesting finding was around LGBTQ+ friendship. In order to help assess respondents’ social support systems, we asked about their social lives – who they could trust and turn to for support. For me, the finding that 78% of respondents had friends that are LGBTQ+ helps explain people’s self-acceptance.
This talk of friendship highlights what was important to me personally about the process of creating this survey. This project was born out of my own friendship with Charbel Maydaa, a queer Lebanese activist who runs MOSAIC. When I started at Grindr, he was one of the first people I called to discuss how we could best leverage the app’s unique reach within the community to further his work in the region.
Charbel and I gathered a group of LGBTQ+ activists representing advocacy organizations in seven countries – Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, and Palestine – and spent three days in Istanbul discussing what we hoped to achieve with this survey. We focused on developing questions that would most support the activism in the region by delivering data that could be used for future grant applications, public persuasion campaigns, and advocacy work to change policies.
That meeting also created some of my most important friendships since then. One activist I met that week is now my associate director of Grindr for Equality. Another has become a sister to me in my chosen family, and I had the great honor of officiating her wedding last December. And for many of the other activists present, we have become close friends and collaborators, working together to amplify the incredible work they’ve been doing for years in the region.
It’s so often these friendships that help LGBTQ+ people get through the hard times when they face discrimination, and the same applies to activists. The only way we can achieve our mission to create a world where LGBTQ+ people can truly be free is for us to support one another, share our resources, and take risks that will amplify each other’s work. I’m proud to have centered our friendships in this project, and I believe the results will prove to be more useful because of it.
- Jack Harrison-Quintana, Executive Director of Grindr for Equality, VP of Social Impact at Grindr
LOS ANGELES - Sept. 18, 2018 - Grindr, the world’s largest queer mobile social network, today kicked off its “Kindr” initiative, which aims to foster a more inclusive and welcoming environment on Grindr and elsewhere within the queer community. The campaign is built around a combination of new community guidelines, stricter enforcement policies and awareness-raising videos that highlight user experiences of discrimination in-app.
“Sexual racism, transphobia, fat and femme shaming and further forms of othering such as stigmatization of HIV positive individuals are pervasive problems in the LGBTQ community,” said Landen Zumwalt, head of communications at Grindr. “These community issues get brought onto our platform, and as a leader in the gay dating space, Grindr has a responsibility to not only protect our users, but also to set the standard for the broader community that we serve.”
“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,“ continued Zumwalt.
“Like many of us, I was a user of Grindr before I started working here, so I was already familiar with the racism and issues faced by people of color or non-masculine identifying people on the app,” said Zach Stafford, chief content officer at Grindr and editor-in-chief of INTO. “I joined Grindr because I saw an opportunity for the company to be a leader and social change agent.”
“Online discrimination has reached epidemic proportions affecting not only Grindr but other social networks. Our ‘Kindr’ initiative is a rallying call for Grindr and our community to take a stand against sexual racism and all forms of othering. Together, we will work to maintain a welcoming and inclusive environment and end the need for people to include exclusionary statements on profiles,” said Zumwalt.
Kindr is built around education, awareness and specific policy changes in the Grindr app. Its new community guidelines will serve as the first step of many Grindr will be taking to help foster a more inclusive and respectful community on its platform. As part of the video campaign, Grindr partnered with notable queer leaders and activists, including The Vixen and Jai Rodriguez, in addition to a number of every day users to share their experiences with discrimination and speak to ways to engage in respectful conversations online.
Over the next five weeks, Grindr will roll out five videos on Grindr, social media, media buys, and Kindr.Grindr.com, a new landing page for the campaign.
Updated Community Guidelines Establish a New Standard
Grindr is setting a higher standard for its community and creating a safe and authentic experience for everyone. New community guidelines will allow users to freely express themselves while also maintaining a welcoming and inclusive environment. Here’s what people should expect from Grindr’s global community and most importantly, from Grindr:
We have a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination, harassment, and abusive behavior. We want you to be yourself, but not at the expense of someone else. Anyone found bullying, threatening, or defaming another user will be banned.
We will also remove any discriminatory statements displayed on profiles. You’re free to express your preferences, but we’d rather hear about what you’re into, not what you aren’t. Profile language that is used to openly discriminate against other users’ traits and characteristics (“No fats, no fems, no Asians”) will no longer be tolerated and will be subject to review by our moderation team.
If you see someone breaking the rules, please report them using the block button found in the upper right corner of their profile, and we’ll take it from there. You may also encounter people on the app who upset or offend you without necessarily violating our guidelines. In those instances we recommend using the block feature, which will prevent you and the other user from seeing each other or having future contact.
For access to the “Kindr” media kit, including images and videos, please click here. For more information on the campaign and to view the updated Community Guidelines, please visit Kindr.Grindr.com.
ABOUT GRINDR With 3.8 million daily active users in every country in the world, Grindr is the largest LGBTQ mobile social network. Since its launch in 2009, Grindr has grown to become a fundamental part of users’ daily lives globally. The company continues to expand their ecosystem to enable all users to connect to the world around them. Through INTO, a digital content channel for and by the LGBTQ community, various events, and experiential opportunities, Grindr is helping users engage across the spectrum.
Headquartered in West Hollywood, California, Grindr is a Certified Transgender-Inclusive Business and encompasses a diverse and passionate family of makers, innovators, leaders, and most importantly, doers. Grindr employees are fueled by an endless curiosity, an ability to embrace change, a respectful and collaborative work environment, and a knack for crossing every finish line.
Grindr is proud to have been recognized by Fast Company as one of the ten "Most Innovative Social Media Companies in 2016” and by Forbes as a “model for corporate social responsibility.” Grindr is available on the App Store and Google Play.
As the Executive Director of Grindr for Equality, I could not be more pleased to celebrate the decision by the Indian Supreme Court to decriminalize being gay throughout the country.
As with most of the laws around the world that make it illegal for us to be who we are, Indian Criminal Code 377 was introduced by European powers when they entered the country to conquer and colonize. So today’s repeal is not just a win for LGBTQ+ rights but also for Indian independence.
It’s been a long road for the Indian government, who made this declaration once before in 2009. But the decision was overturned in 2013, galvanizing the country’s LGBTQ+ activists back into action.
India is home to 18% of the world’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. That means that the number of people impacted by this decision is among the largest in history, second only to China’s decision to decriminalize in 1997.
And what an impact it will have! No longer will queer Indians grow up hearing that who they are is against the law, nor will they live under the threat of arrest simply for trying to meet a partner.
Of course that doesn’t mean the fight is over. Despite this enormous advance, LGBTQ+ people around India can still face discrimination in all areas of life from employment to housing and even healthcare.
It’s also why we have partnered with Varta Trust and SAATHII, two Indian HIV organizations, to create the country’s first LGBTQ+ service finder tool. Using this tool, Grindr users and the entire LGBTQ community can find where they can access sexual health services, mental health services, and legal aid in their local area.
Grindr For Equality works toward a world that is safe, just, and inclusive for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, and we are so happy to share not just our community’s struggles but also our celebrations.
- Jack Harrison-Quintana, VP of Social Impact & Executive Director of Grindr for Equality
As a leading platform for queer people around the world, one of the things we do at Grindr is find ways to use our technology, platform, and resources to better serve the queer community. Today, Grindr for Equality, in partnership with Indian gender and sexuality organization Varta Trust and Chennai-based not-for-profit Solidarity and Action Against the HIV Infection in India (SAATHII), launched an innovative and one-of-a-kind LGBTQ+ friendly resource database and online HIV test center location guide for India.
The spark to implement the online resource database came when Pawan Dhall, a founder of Kolkata-based Varta Trust met Jack Harrison-Quintana, VP of social impact and executive director of Grindr for Equality, at the 2016 International Aids Conference in South Africa. As a respected leader in the LGBTQ+ community and longtime activist focused on HIV in West Bengal and also nationally in India, Pawan wanted to use the local resources of Varta Trust to locate testing centers throughout the country and build a comprehensive database available in a wide variety of Indian languages, in order to be accessible to the most people. All of this fit so well into Grindr for Equality’s global mission to promote justice, health, and safety for Grindr’s 3.6 million global daily users and the worldwide LGBTQ+ community that we jumped to support it.
“It may come as a surprise to some, but India has never had a searchable online directory of HIV test centers. Before this site, if you wanted an HIV test in India, you’d have to ask a doctor, someone in the know, or know what to search for online. Nothing like this has ever been done in India on this scale,” said Dhall. “The test center locator will have an immediate impact on the sexual health of anyone in India seeking an HIV testing location.”
The resource database is accessible to LGBTQ+ identifying individuals via the Grindr app, but also anyone regardless of sexual or gender identity seeking legal aid or health service providers across India via both the Varta Trust and Grindr websites. By identifying and featuring testing sites that are supportive of different sexual and gender expressions, Grindr for Equality aims to remove much of the stigma or fear around getting an HIV test.
“This is a historic partnership that will greatly enable and empower the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community in India to identify queer-friendly providers and receive the care and support they deserve,” said Harrison-Quintana.
The queer-friendly online resource database and HIV test center locator is an effort to address the numerous queries on health concerns and complaints of rights violations which the “Varta” webzine has been receiving from its readers since its start in 2013. Service providers included in the database have been validated as “queer-friendly” through a process of information referees, direct interfaces and detailed self-administered questionnaires where it has been determined the service provider has an understanding about gender, sexuality and diversity; is sensitive to concerns of the LGBTQ+ community around stigma, discrimination, violence, health and broader well-being; and possesses the skills to address the concerns of queer individuals.
Grindr users in India will see localized ads and special notifications to drive awareness of the database’s existence. Database can be accessed via the Grindr app and website in the sexual health resource center and at the Varta Trust website http://www.vartagensex.org/hsearch.php.