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It is a sadness that’s rooted in the fact that this case is not about a villainous man with criminal intent, but more about a perhaps naive black gay man who lives in a world full of ignorance around HIV, sexual health, racism, and homophobia.Furthermore, this case shows us that racism among LGBT people, particularly when using gay dating apps, is not just a matter of preference but has real implications in a country where black folks are still chanting #Black Lives Matter.Despite claiming that he disclosed his HIV-positive status to all six of his accusers, black gay college wrestler Michael Johnson, more widely known as Tiger Mandingo, faces 30 years in prison for "recklessly infecting" a white male partner with HIV after meeting him on a gay dating app.Since following the case, I’ve felt a great sadness.
Studies from dating sites like Ok Cupid reveal that white men are the least likely to respond to messages from other races, despite being the most likely to get a response from members outside their own race.As a result, black gay men are simultaneously feared, ignored, and desired.However, the chief problem surrounding the discussion about racial dating bias is that it gets reduced to "personal preference." Many of the white men on these apps will often try to excuse their racism by stating "it’s just a preference." But what Michael Johnson’s conviction shows us is that racially biased dating preferences are buttressed by a system of institutional racism that begets more tangible harm.As Steven Thrasher uncovers in his Buzz Feed investigation, Johnson was accused by a white partner who reportedly wanted to have sex with him because he was "well-endowed," "huge," and "only his third black guy." Tiger Mandingo’s screen name itself alludes to a historically inaccurate notion of strong black slaves who were sent to fight each other for their masters, which has since become a colloquialism about the hypersexual black man.
Because of that, along with the fact that Grindr was predominantly populated by white men, I decided to turn to other apps, like Jackd.Jackd features more men of color than Grindr and therefore more dating prospects for a man like me.