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I Put ‘No Republicans’ in My Grindr Profile. Men Started to Lose Their Minds.
June 17, 2024

I Put ‘No Republicans’ in My Grindr Profile. Men Started to Lose Their Minds.

Reading Time: 6 minutes

When I first began to explore my sexuality, I thought that being gay meant being socially progressive, open, and empathetic. My two-word vetting tool taught me the truth., Grindr app: How putting ‘No Republicans’ in my dating profile opened my eyes.

We exchanged phone numbers and took the conversation to text. Evan—name changed to protect his identity—was handsome, tall, and good at banter. I looked forward to grabbing a drink with him before he ruined things.

‘I have to confess something that’s not always popular,’ he said. ‘I’m pretty conservative for a gay guy.’

‘ ‘Make America Great Again’ conservative?’ I asked. He confirmed he was planning to vote for Trump again. (For context, this was around 2017.)

During this time, I was talking with a string of men on the apps who seemed promising at first but ended up Trumpy. As I’ve explained to countless men since then, it’s a values thing: In my eyes, the Republican Party considers gay people second-class citizens. I’m not interested in dating men who put their bank accounts, racism, or self-hatred over their own autonomy. Evan was the final straw—and the catalyst for putting ‘No Republicans, please’ in my Grindr profile.

Grindr bills itself as ‘the world’s largest social networking app for LGBTQ people.’ In my experience, it’s not that inclusive or professional, catering primarily to gay men who widely view it as a sex app. I don’t personally use it just for that, having both dated and made good friends with guys I’ve connected with on the platform.

Grindr sets itself apart from, say, Tinder or Bumble in that you don’t need a profile or photo to have an account. This facilitates meetups between men for whom open homosexuality is still dangerous or illegal. Although my profile includes photos and info about myself, anonymity is often the name of the game, and plenty of profiles will actively get annoyed with you for trying to have a nonsexual conversation or send you unsolicited nude photos before ever having glimpsed a face.

Grindr is full of profiles with caveats about what the user is seeking. They can be typical, harmless details (e.g., ‘looking for guys between 30–40,’ ‘prefer men who like the outdoors’) but also problematic (e.g., ‘no fat,’ ‘no fem,’ ‘white only’). I initially assumed my ‘No Republicans’ addition would be a vetting tool, letting conservative men know we’re not a match.

Gay conservatives are a minority, but they are more prevalent than I had realized. Twenty-eight percent of the LGBTQ+ vote went to Trump in 2020, and Grindr’s CEO, George Arison, has publicly shown support for Trump and anti-LGBTQ+ Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin. However, I hypothesize that there are more than polls count. According to Gallup, 7.6 percent of U.S. adults currently identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community.’ The word identify is key with any of these stats because there are plenty of men who have sex with men who don’t identify as gay. Research suggests that globally, more people are closeted than not.

I’ve been told, more than once, ‘By shutting out all Republicans, you’re shutting out 50 percent of people.’ Never mind that Republicans account for just 30 percent of the population; I typically respond that I’m not someone who shuts out of my life everyone with different political beliefs. The difference here is I’m not looking to date, say, my conservative uncle. (It’s also worth noting that the Venn diagram of men who tell me ‘No Republicans’ is discriminatory and men who have problematic profile standards like ‘No one fat or over 45’ is dangerously close to a circle.)

I’d say it’s mostly blank profiles reaching out to fight about my dating preferences. Although I’m sure some of these men feel unsafe being out where they’re residing, many are anonymous because they’re married to women, raising children, and cosplaying straight family men. (DL, or ‘down low,’ is the common parlance for this.)

Many are also outwardly conservative and publicly homophobic, actively working against LGBTQ+ rights. The anonymity Grindr provides seems to make it easy for these men to compartmentalize—I’ve sadly heard multiple versions of ‘I’m not a faggot; I just like having sex with men sometimes.’ These are the men that I try to have some empathy for, but frankly, they piss me off the most.

How, I’ll often ask them, do you feel good about engaging in gay sex while actively working against gay people? I’ve also begun pointing out how easy it is to be a keyboard warrior when your identity is hidden. That’s typically when I get blocked. Or guys sometimes go the romantic route: ‘Why don’t we just forget all about this and get naked?’

When I relay these anecdotes, my straight friends and colleagues are always surprised, which surprises me, as there’s ample evidence—Randy McNally, Aaron Schock, Roy Cohn—of this particular form of hypocrisy.

Then, there’s the ‘Not every gay man has to agree with the liberal agenda’ view. ‘That’s fair,’ I’ll say, ‘but I do.’ And the ‘No need to bring politics to a sex app’ stance. This is when I’ll remind them that I’d love for the politicians they support to stop doing the same.

I get a surprising amount of men who kick off the conversation with ‘Obama used to be against gay marriage.’ I’ll point out that, yes, that’s true. But he’s changed his mind. That’s called growth. Growth is good.

When I first started to explore my sexuality, I somehow thought that being gay meant being, well, a bit more socially progressive, open, and empathetic. But gay men are still men, and many men are entitled, closed-minded, racist, misogynistic, classist, toxically insecure, and cruel. Many men also view the world differently than I do and govern their lives with different values.

The out men showing their faces who disagree with my stance tend not to lead with debate. Maybe it’s because, as with Evan, I often initiate the conversations, but unlike Evan, who came right out and told me his political views, most send tentative dog whistles. They’re ‘open-minded,’ ‘do their own research,’ ‘think for themselves,’ and ‘don’t follow mainstream media.’ Though they demographically skew older, whiter, and wealthier—Grindr usage among white men spiked during the 2016 Republican National Convention—that’s not a hard line. Evan was very white and wealthy but my age.

A few months before Evan, I’d gone on several solid dates with a gentleman before learning that he owned a MAGA hat. He was Black, a teacher, and two years my junior. And later, a bona fide Gen Zer from the gym messaged me to chat before telling me that he not only ‘strongly disagreed’ with the ‘No Republicans’ in my profile but thought that it was actively dangerous. He then introduced me to the illustrious @GaysAgainstGroomers, a far-right, anti-LGBTQ+ organization that protests the inclusion of gay school curricula and asserts that gay educators who are open about their sexuality are ‘grooming’ students. (He told me that it would be eye-opening—which it was, but not in the way he likely assumed.)

While it may seem that ‘No Republicans’ has made my Grindr experience overwhelmingly negative, it has made me much more comfortable advocating for myself on a larger playing field.

The thing is, it is easier to be a keyboard warrior than it is to get into in-person confrontations. In person, I used to try to play nice. I used to be one of those guys who’d say, ‘Being gay is just one part of me; it’s not my whole identity.’ I didn’t necessarily believe this, but I didn’t want to get labeled as exhausting or pejoratively woke. I didn’t want to take up too much space, so to speak.

I didn’t have that same fear with these online interactions, and they increasingly taught me that taking up space—sticking up for yourself—isn’t a bad thing at all. The conversations that ‘No Republicans’ fostered also made me realize how incredibly privileged I am.

In writing this story, I’m not risking losing friends. I won’t be retaliated against at work. My family won’t cut off ties with me. (My parents printing this out and hanging it on their fridge still isn’t out of the question.) Not everyone has that luck.

Right after Biden won the election, I had a gentleman message me to tell me it was unfair to paint all Republicans as homophobic. He was conservative, he said, but didn’t hate gay people. I responded to him with what I believe: Not all people who identify as conservative are homophobic, but they are supporting a party that, at its core, deeply is. ‘How can you not see that?’ I said.

He conceded that he agreed and wished he had grown up in a different time, but at this point, he’d ‘blow up’ his life if he came out. ‘I love my family too much to risk that,’ he said.

‘That sucks,’ I said. ‘I’m sorry.’

‘Thanks,’ he replied. Then, he asked if I’d send him some nudes.


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