Medical student Dustin Mangatjay McGregor said he regularly received racist abuse from potential dates on Grindr, including being called a « petrol sniffer » and a « wog abo c*** ».
Mr McGregor said gay men who were not white were more likely to be rejected in the online dating world and that he was fed up with users disclosing their racial preferences in derogatory terms, such as « no rice or spice », meaning they have no interest in Asian or Indian men.
« There’s a hierarchy in the gay community, » said Mr McGregor, who is from North East Arnhem Land and also has Greek and Scottish heritage.
« The white attractive male with the European background is at the top of the pyramid. The further you are away from that ethnicity or body image the more you’re shunned in the gay community.
« ‘No rice or spice’ is one of the most common things I’ve seen on Grindr. It’s all good and well to have preferences but don’t throw that around in a derogatory way. »
Mr McGregor, 23, said he had been sent racist messages frequently since he joined the dating app five years ago. They include slurs about traditional land ownership and petrol sniffing, as well as being asked if he speaks English because he « looks Chinese » and questioned about « bush techniques ».
Grindr users who spoke to Fairfax Media said most men who made the offensive comments on gay dating apps were white and that profiles commonly said « Euros only », « Aussies only », « GWM only » [gay white men] and « No Asians ». Some also use emojis of turbans to indicate they are not interested in Indian men.
In one disturbing example, a user’s profile picture shows a tattoo of an eagle, similar to the emblem used in Nazi symbolism.
Dinesh, a Melbourne man with Sri Lankan heritage, said he calls people out on dating apps who use terms such as « No Asians ».
« If you’re a young guy coming to terms with your sexuality the last thing you need to be told is that you’re not attractive by the community you’re supposed to be part of, » he said.
« The biggest thing for me is being asked where I’m from. Every time I’m asked that I’m jolted into thinking ‘I don’t belong’. »
Dinesh said he personally knows Asian men who discriminate against other Asians on gay dating websites. He said there was a « ranking order » that placed Asian men at the bottom. « The Asian guys want to be seen with the white guys, which is really sad, » he said.
Mr McGregor’s profile, which he has now deleted, said he was « Aboriginal/Greek/Caucasian (mixed Euro) ». As an experiment he recently removed all references to his heritage for one month and described himself as « white » instead of « other ».
« I wondered if people would notice such subtle changes in my profile and they did, » he said. « I was flooded with messages. There was so many more – I lost count. But when I changed it back there wasn’t as much interest.
« What frustrates me the most is that there are vulnerable people out there who have more typical presentations of their heritage than I do and they can’t hide from that. They receive this sort of abuse more often and in worse forms than me. »