Metro Weekly

Twitter Users Call for Boycott After Grindr CEO’s Conservative Tweets

Online activists spread #DeleteGrindr hashtag after tweets sympathetic to Trump, Glenn Youngkin, and Ron DeSantis come to light.

Grindr CEO George Arison
Grindr CEO George Arison – Photo: Grindr.

Some Twitter users are calling on users of the popular gay app Grindr to boycott the company by deleting their accounts in response to tweets from the the company’s incoming CEO, George Arison, that expressed support for conservative political ideas and Republican candidates. 

Arison, the former CEO of Shift Technologies, was recently announced as Grindr’s incoming CEO ahead of the company going public later this year as part of a $2.1 billion deal, which the company claims would make him the first out gay CEO to take a company public.

In February 2020, Arison, who will begin his stint as CEO on Oct. 19, replied to a since-deleted tweet from former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was seeking the Democratic nomination for the presidency.

Arison opined that Bloomberg was the only Democrat who was well-suited to take on former President Donald Trump in the general election, tweeting: “Bloomberg is the only candidate who has any shot at beating Trump.”

He replied to that tweet with two others, including one reading: “FYI I am a conservative & agree with some Trump policies. I think at least 10% of Republican voters and 1/3 of moderate independents are the same (like some Trump policies, can’t stand having him in office). So Dems need a nominee who can tap into this electoral spectrum.”

Although Arison repudiated Trump in another tweet issued that same day, claiming the former president was “everything our Founders feared the most — which was a demagogue focused solely on self-advancement and self-interest,” some current-day Twitter users remain appalled that he would admit to supporting some polices pushed by the former president.

It remains unclear which Trump policies Arison favors, as he did not specify in the tweet praising Bloomberg — another politician whom some more “woke” Twitter users also view as problematic for a host of reasons.

For one, Bloomberg, at the time of Arison’s tweets, had come under fire for refusing to apologize for a New York Police Department surveillance program that placed undercover officers at mosques and other places Muslims frequent in the city in the months and years immediately following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Bloomberg also courted criticism for “tough on crime” polices advanced during his mayoralty, including tactics like “stop and frisk,” in which New Yorkers — primarily young men of color — were stopped and searched if police believed them to be carrying concealed weapons.

Notably, just 10 days prior to Arison’s tweet, Bloomberg had also come under criticism for remarks he made at a 2019 business conference in Manhattan, in which he referred to trans women generally as “some guy in a dress,” speculating about trans women using women’s bathrooms and declaring that highlighting transgender rights was not a “winning formula” for Democrats hoping to win elections.

Although Arison’s tweet saying he agreed with some Trump policies remained in relative obscurity, on Wednesday, a group of dedicated left-wing Twitter users began circulating the hashtag #DeleteGrindr on the platform, highlighting Arison’s old tweets and urging people to stop financially supporting Grindr.

“New CEO of @grindr is a conservative tool who ‘agrees with some Trump policies,'” tweeted attorney and activist Diana Adams. “Do you feel safe sharing personal data on that app with someone who clearly doesn’t care much about LGBTQ rights/sexual freedom?”

Adams continued attacking Arison and Grindr generally, tweeting: “Even if this isn’t about your safety in the US or Europe, Grindr is not an ethical company to support. Keep in mind that homosexuality is still illegal or persecuted in much of the world & that Grindr sharing data with local officials WILL put peoples (sic) lives in danger.”

Linking to an article from The New York Times, Adams replied to that tweet in a thread, writing: “Grindr was fined under European law for selling users data & locations to advertisers, with a note that this could risk users lives in parts of the world where Grindr is used & being LGBTQ is criminalized & persecuted.”

They continued with a subsequent tweet, noting: “Grindr also sold data on HIV-status & was criticized for not being responsible to the #LGBTQ community given this- in 2018. They respond to all this critique by- hiring a conservative Trump sympathizer?? They don’t deserve your money or data. #DeleteGrindr.”

Another user tweeted: “#Grindr is full of racists & self-hating gay men who support politicians who have 0 issues advocating for erasing their civil liberties and freedoms. I deleted the app a while back. If you keep giving $ to #Grindr, you’re complicit. #DeleteGrindr.”

The user then quote-tweeted his original post, writing: “@Grindr @joelsimkhai I’m calling you out,” tagging one of Grindr’s former CEOs for good measure. “It’s time for #Gay #Bisexual men to have more respect for themselves. #Grindr has such a major problem with #racism, #transphobia, #xenophobia, and fake bots/accounts. All that $$$ doesn’t benefit gay people. #DeleteGrindr.”

Twitter users also pounced on Arison for retweeting Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin earlier this year. After Youngkin criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Arison wrote that the governor “[s]hould totally run for President.”

Youngkin, who was elected to office after running on a platform touting “parental rights” in education — which has led to calls for book banning and threats of violence directed against school board members — has most recently been criticized for pushing so-called “model policies” regarding the treatment of transgender students in public schools.

Under the policies being pushed by Youngkin’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, teachers would be required to “out” trans-identifying or gender-nonconforming youth to their parents, students would be barred from using facilities that match their gender identity, and schools would be prohibited from using students’ preferred names and pronouns, as well as from compelling teachers and fellow students not to misgender trans students. In protest of the proposed policies, thousands of students — primarily high schoolers — held walkouts across Virginia, urging their local school boards to resist adopting the model policies.

Youngkin opposes same-sex marriage, although he has said he would respect that same-sex marriages — at least under current Supreme Court precedent — are legal in Virginia. He was previously called out for appointing anti-LGBTQ figures to his transition team.

Arison has also appeared to express support for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis when referring to a tweet from National Review Editor Rich Lowry, who opined that the governor, who is best known for signing his state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law, was “better-suited to advance a new, more comabtive (sic) and populist party.” Arison quoted the tweet, writing in response to Lowry’s assertion: “Not ideal, but he’s largely right.”

While Arison’s tweets aren’t the first time a Grindr executive has made comments that appear to put them at odds with the app’s users — in 2018, then-president Scott Chen opined in a Facebook post that marriage is a “holy matrimony between a man and a woman” — many users see supporting Republican policies, at least as long as a more populist, socially conservative element holds sway over the party’s decisions, is incompatible with running a company that primarily markets itself to the LGBTQ community.

“Another scandal around @grindr: its new boss is a conservative, who agrees with Trump. Leading a gay dating platform while campaigning against gay rights is impossible. So #deletegrindr?” tweeted one user.

That said, as the Republican Party appears to become estranged from corporate America over the latter’s embrace of “woke” policies and decisions by many corporations to cut off donations to Republicans who did not denounce the U.S. Capitol riot of Jan. 6, 2021, people like Arison may soon find that their preferred political party is now more hostile to big businesses, including Grindr.

When approached about Arison’s conservative political tweets, a spokesperson for Grindr defended the incoming CEO, telling the magazine Them, “George is an out gay man, proudly married to his husband and the father of two children. George is passionate about fighting for the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ people around the world.”

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