Sexual racism in the gay community is still commonly experienced by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour). Previous literature by Han and Choi (2018) have gone more in depth within the BIPOC perspective of sexual racism by explaining how Black, Asian, and Latino users do desirability, a way of making people desire you, within larger racial infrastructures that dominate all gay sexual fields. Focusing just on one gay sexual field, Grindr, we expand on Han and Choi’s research by complexifying race, showing how Black and Asian Grindr users do desirability through different racial performatives. Thus, the research question is; how do Black and Asian Grindr users perform desirability? I argue that Black and Asian Grindr users perform desirability through authenticating alterity, the practice of playing within a racialized assumption, and mimicry, the practice of mimicking Whiteness, and thereby these practices add complexity to racial categories but nonetheless reproduce Whiteness. The methodology includes 10 interviews and a document analysis of Grindr profiles from 5 Asian identifying and 5 Black identifying Grindr users. Here the homonormative model consisting of gendered expression and its link to forming race was looked at to analyse for racial performativity. The analysis shows a Black Grindr user authenticate alterity by playing into masculine gendered expression which makes Black alterity, and Asian Grindr user practice this through playing an effeminate gendered expression which makes Asian alterity. They also perform outside of alterity where a Black Grindr user mimics Whiteness through White femininity and an Asian Grindr user mimics Whiteness through White masculinity. This shows that there are different ways for Black and Asian Grindr users to racially perform themselves, thus, complexifying race as users are able to modify themselves through different racial categories in order to perform desirability. Nonetheless users directly reproduce Whiteness through mimicry and indirectly reproduce Whiteness through authenticating alterity. This allows Whiteness to be reinforced on Grindr.

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Jess Bier, Maja Hertoghs
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

van der Veen, D. (2020, June 21). Desirability in the Gay Community: an analysis of Black and Asian navigation through Grindr. Sociology. Retrieved from