At a time when queer media is crucial but scarce, Grindr shut down the operation of its LGBTQ2 digital magazine, Into, 17 months after its launch.
On Tuesday, the company announced it laid off Into’s entire editorial and social media staff to focus on producing more video content. According to Out, Grindr’s president, Scott Chen, announced the layoffs over email. “As with any growing business, we have to continually evaluate what is best for Grindr,” he writes. “After a thoughtful and collaborative process, we decided to modify Into’s content mix to rely more heavily on video.” Chen adds the decision was driven by the high user engagement driven by the videos through channels such as YouTube.
But Into’s former associate editor, Mary Emily O’Hara says the video department was also let go.
I see a lot of comments about Grindr closing down INTO in a ‘pivot to video’ and want to clarify for the record: INTO’s video staff was also let go today.
— Mary Emily O’Hara (@MaryEmilyOHara) January 16, 2019
The layoffs come just weeks after the editorial team broke the story that Chen, who became Grindr’s president last August, claimed marriage is a “holy matrimony between a man and a woman.”
A loss for queer media
On Tuesday, Into’s staff released a statement on Twitter, stating that Into’s closure is a “tremendous loss for LGBTQ media, journalism, and the world.”
Into, launched in August 2017, was one of the most prominent US LGBTQ2 publications that targeted younger, millennial readers who want “more than just pictures of hot guys and gals, [but also] delve into issues and more serious topics.” In less than two years, Into was awarded with a GLAAD nomination and recognized by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, among others. The organization has reported on treatment of transgender prisoners, and LGBTQ asylum seekers in the the United States.
Queer publications like Into serve as platforms not only to report but represent the LGBTQ2 community in a time when stories from and about queer communities are undermined and challenged.
GLAAD has always championed for better LGBTQ2 representation in the media. On its website, the organization states, “Today, LGBTQ people’s stories are more likely to be told in the same way as others — with fairness, integrity, and respect,” but also acknowledges that it’s important to be more vigilant as the current political climate constantly attacks the LGBTQ2 community.
What folks are saying about the closure
When news of its sudden closure broke, people reacted on social media:
With the abrupt closure of @Into, we should all ponder the danger of corporate influence in journalism. A few weeks ago, INTO published a report on @Grindr President Scott Chen’s disapproval of gay marriage. Now, the app company is shuttering the news outlet. Coincidence?
— Stuart Richardson (@StuLRichardson) January 16, 2019
— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) January 15, 2019
Every single person I ever interacted with at @Into was not only immensely talented, but they were so fun to work with, I became friends with them outside of work. Any media or tech brand would be lucky to have them, so go poach, please! ✨ https://t.co/S65tbCMOfw
— Fran Tirado (@fransquishco) January 15, 2019
If you’re really a trans and queer ally you’ll unplug your @Grindr app until they make sure every staffer, editor, contributor and freelancer has been fully paid for their work with @Into. Now is the time for everyone to see who is really real about the cause.
— Serena Sonoma (@SerenaSonoma) January 16, 2019
Writers and staff also took to Twitter:
I’m still processing. And I’m going to keep it 150% right now: it is HELL being Black and queer in digital media. Quadruply so if you’re trans too. And before I met the wonderful and spirited people at @Into, I was GOING TO QUIT WRITING.
— Clarkisha “Neck-Rolling Hood Rat” Kent (@IWriteAllDay_) January 16, 2019
It’s gonna be the INTO staff pivoting to porn to pay February rent https://t.co/UHqc27J1OP
— Mary Emily O’Hara (@MaryEmilyOHara) January 16, 2019
It has been the honor of a lifetime getting to work with the incredible @Into team making queer content for the community. We are all so proud of the platform we provided, centering underrepresented stories, and sharing the light of you all out into the world. pic.twitter.com/EvB4Qa0ozQ
— alex schmider (@anderfinn) January 15, 2019
As a nod to our fellow LGBTQ2 publication and the work of journalists who wrote and shed light on queer issues, here are some of our favourite Into pieces:
1. “The Complicated Lives of Gay Muslims” by Andy Ngo, Aug 17, 2017
“The men embraced in front of smiling guests and eager photographers. Jahed’s family was noticeably missing in images and videos circulated online. Within days, the couple’s post-nuptial celebration was abruptly cut short as they received acid attack threats. Across the world and nearly simultaneously, there was another wedding involving a Muslim family and their gay son. In a reception hall in Vancouver, a Muslim mother, Siddika, stood by her son, Ali Reza, smiling widely as he wed his beloved, a man named Paul.”
“Whenever Kim Davis pops up in the news somewhere, it drags our community right back through the mud,” [David Ermold] tells INTO over the phone. “She runs off to Romania and she feels she can tell them what to do and support a referendum in a completely different country. She’s ruining the reputation of a very good community.”
3. “How Health Care Providers Can Better Serve Non-Binary Patients” by Tris Mamone, Dec 19, 2018
“Nessi Hunter Alice tells Into, “He basically refused to treat me for anything because I was delusional and he didn’t want to treat me until I got psychological stuff worked out. And he called me delusional partially because I identified myself as non-binary.”
4. “Sad, Brown, And Gay: Let’s Talk About Queer and Trans Mental Health In The South Asian Diaspora” by Aditi Natasha Kini, Dec 26, 2018
“Stigma is doubly invoked: mental health is stigmatized in South Asian culture, leading South Asians to seek counseling less frequently. This stigma is further reified by the fear of social contamination of queerness and transness.”
5. “A Sign Of Trouble: The HIV Crisis In The Deaf Community” by Into Editor, Aug 17, 2017
“On average, the Maryland statistics show that deaf individuals were around two times more likely to acquire HIV.”
6. “HIV-Positive Venezuelans Aren’t Getting Their HIV Meds” Sept 7, 2017
“Pedro had been living with HIV since March 2017, but he took his last HIV medication on June 8 . Since then, he’d been living without Atripla, the medication he took to suppress his virus.”
“With 49 dead and more than 50 wounded, I can’t help but think about how this tragedy helped our society at-large to begin to see people like me as human. Especially in tragedy.”
8. “Serving Under Fear: The Trials of Being a Trans Soldier” Aug 1, 2017
“One short meeting effectively dismantled every dream she’d been working toward the past four years of school. And to add insult to injury, the memo referred to [Riley] Dosh—who came out as a trans woman in 2016—by male pronouns.”