In the wake of the devastating attacks on Paris, many Muslims have had to defend themselves against Islamophobia. Not all of them have to do it where Anthony Magallanez has: Grindr.
Grindr, known for its problems with racism, transphobia and general unsavoriness, was the site of tension a few nights ago when Magallanez, 22, logged on in his hometown of Phoenix and was harassed by a user who changed their screen name on the hookup app to "We Are Paris."
Magallanez tweeted images of the aggressive exchange on Sunday evening.
The user began the exchange by telling Magallanez that he should take the "terrorist writing" off his profile. Magallanez told Mic that the Arabic writing he had on his profile was lyrics from a song by Lebanese singer Fairouz. The lyrics translate to "I loved you in the winter." Magallanez said he put the words in his profile as an "Easter egg" for other Arabic speakers.
"How it jumped from a simple sentence on my profile to me being a terrorist, I find that outrageous," Magallanez said. "Especially seeing as a couple of days before Paris, a guy set off two bombs in Beirut, killing 50 people."
After the first message, Magallanez saw that the user's profile was generally unpleasant — it had a "no fats, no femmes" disclaimer on it, which meant the user was not interested in speaking to people of size or men without some unknown quantity of testosterone.
Magallanez said that, while this is the fiercest manifestation of prejudice he's encountered on the app, it's not the first time he's encountered anti-Muslim sentiment while cruising online.
"I receive a lot of comments along the lines of like, 'How can you be gay and Muslim? That doesn't make sense,'" Magallanez said. "'How do you adhere to a religion that is against you?' 'Aren't you afraid that you're going to be thrown off a building?'"
As far as his own family, after an initial freak-out when he came out at 14 years old, Magallanez said, his family is accepting of his sexuality. "The notion that my sexuality limits my choices in terms of which religion I adhere to, I find that completely ridiculous," he said. "Especially coming from people who, more than likely, all they know of Islam is what they see on the TV."
He added, "I've had more gay people tell me I'm going to be thrown off a roof and stoned than Muslims. I find that humorous."
Racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are all realities Magallanez says the gay community must combat. However, he noted, this behavior is not necessarily people's fault: They were likely raised that way.
"In the United States, if you're tall, muscular, white and you have a lumberjack beard, then you're like a good catch," he said. "A lot of gay men have this preconceived notion that white men are automatically more attractive, which I find to be a logical fallacy and, frankly, racist."