Grindr wants tech people to combat LGBTQ inequalities

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people make up nearly 40% of the 1.6 million youth who experience homelessness every year. Meanwhile, trans people are almost four times more likely than the average American to be living on less than $10,000 a year. In short, there’s a bevy of issues that negatively impact the LGBTQ community. It’s time to do something about that.

Grindr, the hookup app for gay men, is taking advantage of its massive reach (the app has two million daily users who spend an average of 54 minutes using it) and putting it toward some serious good. Born out of Grindr for Equality, Hack4Equality is a hackathon that is culminating in a demo day next week at Grindr’s Los Angeles headquarters.

“We really want to see great innovation to help support justice and equities for the LGBTQ community in international issues,” Grindr Head of People and Culture Jeremy Foreshew told me.

In total, there are 13 challenges across four major issues affecting the LGBTQ community: homelessness, trans visibility and economic empowerment, international LGBTQ issues (refugees and travel) and access to sexual health services and PrEP. Grindr is taking advantage of the data from the White House and the U.S. Census Bureau’s Opportunity Project to enable Hack4Equality participants to solve the representation issue for LGBTQ people. Grindr is also partnering with Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign, the It Gets Better Project and others.

“We’re just not being represented because no one is asking about us or has asked about us historically,” Foreshew said. “My colleagues provided anonymized Grindr data to basically put a rainbow filter over the census data, and to figure out if there are unique LGBTQ issues or flags that can be used to help solve problems.”

Grindr expects over 100 technologists to be present at the LA demo day, with hundreds more participating around the world. Through Hack4Equality, Grindr is hoping some of the hacks end up coming to market, either as standalone products or ones that live within the Grindr ecosystem.

“When we talk about something being part of the Grindr ecosystem, we talk about taking advantage of the scale and the massive community,” Foreshew said. “What’s really important for us is to find opportunities where people can use the reach we have and use the goodwill we’ve created with the millions of users we have to kind of get that warm handshake.”