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I also believe that racism is systemic and nuanced, and more complicated than a simple binary of “racists” and “nonracists.” That said, the social dating app universe is much bigger than myself and is shaped by the opinions, experiences and reactions of everyone who participates.

As a business, Scruff wants to act thoughtfully in fostering a dialogue that listens to and values all of these perspectives.

Growing extremism on social media and sobering images of white nationalist violence have quashed some of the idealistic expectations set in place in the early aughts.

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Cynthia Feliciano and Belinda Robnett collected data from Yahoo personals between September 2004 and May 2005, randomly selecting profiles of people ages 18-50 in the Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Atlanta metropolitan regions.

While white men were more open to dating outside their race than white women, both had specific racial preferences.

On this point, we again understand that people disagree, and because of this our approach will continue to evolve as we listen and learn more.

There are many forms of discrimination, racism being one.

When Scruff implemented these features, they were a standard followed by numerous online social and dating services. As part of our effort to be more responsive to queer voices of color, we conducted applied research and interviewed queer men of color, who strongly indicated to our team that racial language, including both negative (“I don’t date …”) and affirmative (“I only date …”), have made them feel frequently objectified, often excluded, and sometimes dehumanized.

We have faith in the sincerity of Scruff members to find and foster meaningful connections.As the CEO of Scruff, I believe the question we face today, in 2018, is whether the inclusion of ethnicity and/or race in a dating profile buoys a broader culture of racism, and whether the expression of racial preferences in profile text is itself sexual racism.Put another way: Does racism begin only at the point of full-throated discrimination?Perhaps because of this context, perhaps because of our zeal for acceptance by mainstream culture, or perhaps because of something atavistic, segments of the LGBTQ community are equally plagued by racism.Screenshots of conversations on apps can now unmistakably render what might previously have been dismissed.Is the expression of racial or ethnic preferences in dating and hookups racism? There is honest disagreement over these questions, and this disagreement is made more fraught because gay men who have had personal experiences of marginalization are now being asked to confront and challenge their own prejudices.

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