In an age of ‘Kindr Grindr‘ and niche apps celebrating tribes, black gay men still don’t have an app just for us. Instead, we tend to log on and land somewhere between “no blacks” or “BBC only!” Dating in 2019 is based on the present, preferences, prejudices, and proximity. But, when you fill in your wants and desires, are the words in your dating app profile– a preference or prejudice?

Let’s start with the basics. Preference is defined as a greater liking for one alternative over another (or others). Prejudice is the unjust or discriminatory treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex. So, when someone says: “No fats, fems, whites, or under 30; just my preference.” Is it or isn’t it?

Through the ‘preference and prejudice’ we come across daily on gay dating apps, I wanted to see how I measured up against a lot of these “preferences.” So here we go…

No fats

I once heard a guy in a bar say; “I’d never date a fat girl. It shows she lacks discipline and doesn’t care about herself. You only have one body, and that’s what you decide to do with it? No, thanks.” I sat back and felt a lot of ways. On the surface, it sounded like this was a prejudice. And then I realized, I had a similar view.

For me, it was: “I’d never date a guy with abs; he’s probably going to expect me to be in the gym and run marathons.” But hearing his preference made me realise, I was projecting my own insecurities. “No fats” through his paradigm could probably make sense to someone who attaches fitness to ambition. But, often, when it’s “no fats” on a profile, the subtext feels discriminatory.

As a man who leans HWP (height-weight proportionate), I’m guilty of feeling uncomfortable when I read this in a profile. But, a good part of me has accepted that if my body is a deal-breaker, thanks for saving my time. Under this lens, it doesn’t feel like prejudice towards me or larger bodies. Though I can’t help but ask… do you still approach someone even if you aren’t their type? I mean really, how many people really end up with their “type” anyway?

Preference or prejudice
Your Dating App Profile–Preference or Prejudice?

No fems

My dad once said: “you know you’re different, a bit effeminate, but it works for you”. I was shocked! Firstly, I didn’t know he knew such a big word. Secondly, it felt like my dad’s new love language was shade. And finally, I felt angry. How dare you suggest that I, as a man, have anything less than masculine qualities?! It was a sobering moment.

Somewhere along the dating path, I adopted the thought that men didn’t like overly feminine men. I thought, If I display feminine qualities, I am less attractive and desirable. But for many of us, “no fems” is rooted in a desire to please someone and fit in. For me, it was my dad. He didn’t like it, so I hid it. For you, it could be the same thing, or something totally different. Yes, we all have daddy issues! And those issues usually manifest into a prejudice versus a preference.

But you know what I find most interesting? Many black gay men will say that overt femininity on men isn’t attractive, pleasing or desirable. Yet, a good deal of guys who wield this request throw “girl,” “bitchhh,” and other lingo that celebrate a type of freedom we only house in our friendships. How do we celebrate the multiple ways we exist for the men in our lives and not feel emasculated about it?

No whites

Racial Hang-ups are a thing. My primary friend circle is black men. All of us date only black men, except one; he’s married to a white guy. The rest of us site cultural differences, fetishisation, and discomfort for a race that we simply feel don’t like us. It’s our preference. Meanwhile, people are continually inviting white people to the cookout, which means nothing in the dating world.

Hanging out, hooking up, and committing to a relationship for many of us just isn’t an option. I have no real interest or desire in white men, but I don’t put it in my profile. To me, it reads like a prejudice. And without that statement, I am left to receive plenty of wildly obnoxious and offensive requests. I can’t help but wonder, even though I don’t say it, am I just as bad as the guy searching for BBCs? Is my ability to remain PC worth receiving disturbing messages based on my race?

No one under—

Of all of these, I am guilty of having an age restriction in my current charge to find a partner. A few months ago, I met a guy, 22, and my “type” as I know it. Fortunately, in my years of living, I knew what it was; one night of fun. But he wanted to know what it would take to date me. I pushed back, and he grew upset and frustrated. I explained to him that he’s simply too young and that’s my preference. We forged a friendship of some sort.

After some time passed, we linked again. He shared that he was dating multiple guys and travelling much more! For me, it was an informed restriction, albeit a challenging one. Sometimes preferences are in place as a means of protection, and under this section, it makes sense. I saw the happiness and joy of his 20s on him and knew I did the right thing. While this action could seem like a prejudice, in context, life simply taught me to implement this boundary.


In the end, our “nos” are in hopes of us finding the guy who makes us say yes. Are we perpetuating a culture of shame by calling attention to the things we want or don’t want? How much of what we “want” is listed versus what we “don’t want?” How much of what we “want” is what we even get? Does anyone even read app profiles fully anymore? What I will say is that dating is fun and important. It is, essentially about collecting data. In turn, we should use that data to determine what we prefer, or simply don’t want.

I encourage you to understand the boundaries and restrictions you’ve placed on dating. Preferences come from experience and insight. Prejudices come from displaced fear and ignorance. If you don’t want to date white men, uncut men, and overweight men, fine. But keep in mind the delivery. Yes, the old saying applies, “it’s not what you say, but how you say it.” Choosing kindness is the right approach, Grindr. But, let’s not leave it up to an app, we must do the work too.


  1. Great post. I’m just reading it now, although I see this was initially published back in 2019. This is an issue that has frustrated me in the past, and I wrote about it back in 2014, “Sexual racism: When does your preference become racist”.

    I understand that we all have preferences and that attraction is subjective. I also understand that for many men (esp those my age) have been dating for decades and they want to use these filters to help them identify men they think they are more likely to click with, but I take issue with categorical filters based on race and looks. It is difficult for me to believe that someone wouldn’t find a single person from a race or heavier than their ideal mate attractive – esp in light of the fact that so many people become more (or less) attractive as one starts to text or talk to each other. Oh and by the way, this is a heated discussion I’ve had with some of my single girlfriends in the past so it’s not limited to the gay community, although it seems gay men are more apt to be more vocal about it on Grindr / Scruff / etc… Traditional dating apps don’t tolerate such language, although there are ways around it even there.

    Most upsetting is the language people seem comfortable using on these apps. I can’t imagine anyone in an office talking to a colleague and using the language they do online when addressing or talking about people’s race. The immunity people feel online gives many a sense of liberty to create profiles they would never want associated with them in any other part of their offline life. I recognize that some of this comes down to people needing to think about their words and actions. However, this is part of a larger problem regarding civility and lack of awareness that seems to be at issue online and on dating apps in general (at least the gay ones).

    Anyway, great post and thanks BGB for reposting it. I’ve shared the link to my 2014 post below.

  2. So I’m a little concerned that I have interpreted that you resolve ones ‘prejudice’ against “fats” by suggesting that those who are undesired should just be happy that ‘we’ saved our time because we have been discarded because we are not hwp? Wouldn’t that be the solution for all the ‘preferences’ you wrote about? It seems that an opportunity was missed to challenge people to interrogate their fat discrimination.

    • Hey Cory,
      Thanks for taking the time to read and reply. I totally agree with the idea that we leave the door open to challenge people on any prejudice that we come across. A couple of thoughts come to mind, though. The first is, sometimes we aren’t privy to an open conversation with those who have automatically excluded us from their dating pool. And, as a guy who isn’t fit, I know firsthand the gut-wrenching feeling rejection brings (which feels amplified when I know my body is the cause). I also understand the responsibility in me doing my own work to love the parts of myself that our community has seemingly deemed not desirable. Those attacks hurt because someone saw something “wrong” with me and I internalized it. But life has taught me, some people are self-aware, and others aren’t. I can only be responsible for myself. If I sought to challenge each person who listed “no fats” on their profile, I’d be endangering my own well-being and I don’t know that it’d add any value to me.

      The other thought I have is that, it’s presumptive of me to assume someone hasn’t done the work to reach their preference. I too have preferences, and while they may not be around the body, they’re around other components of a person. It’s totally okay to have exclusions because you’ve dated and collected data. There are multiple sides to the ‘preferences’ debate, and my hope was that, even when we meet people who we aren’t “for”, that we no longer weaponize the “don’ts” and respect people’s decisions. Instead, we take ownership of our own journey, and enter spaces where we know we’re safe, welcomed, and will be appreciated.

      I’ll wrap up on this thought. App dating is an interesting place where I feel a lot of these conversation points feel magnified. I’ve hit up guys on an app who don’t like my stats, but come across them in social settings and boom, they’re attracted or interested. Sometimes I feel like apps are more of a fantasy, hook-up, all or nothing deal… what’s your experience been like?


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