By Jermaine Rowley
For The Diamondback
Zach Stafford, the editor in chief of Grindr and INTO Magazine, discussed queer media and the importance of the dating app Grindr to his career Thursday at the Colony Ballroom in Stamp Student Union.
The event, moderated by Giovanni Rocco from Generation Progress, focused on the impact Grindr has had on the LGBT community. About 25 people were in attendance.
Grindr, one of the largest LGBTQ dating apps in the world, integrates content from their magazine, INTO, into the platform. This has provided Stafford the opportunity to share content with millions of LGBTQ individuals, focusing on LGBTQ issues.
He said that more people tend to read their news on Grindr than Facebook and the app reminds people to get tested for HIV through its notification feature.
Stafford used the app to find sources for stories he was writing.
"For me, Grindr has just become an extension of queer life for quotes," he said.
Stafford said he uses the app as a platform to provide people with content they otherwise couldn't access. In many countries, being a member of the LGBTQ community is frowned upon, but members of the LGBTQ community can connect with one another through Grindr and through the content of INTO, Stafford said.
"I'm able to send content to places where there isn't a queer magazine," Stafford said. "[Grindr] is larger than America or the western world, and a lot of emerging nations have this technology. So then with this content, I ask myself, 'How do I give them a portion of the equality that we have here?'"
Maria Aragon, a junior English and film studies major, and the president of the Reading Rainbow Club, a student group that focuses on reading LGBT literature, came to the event because she was interested in storytelling, which she believes is important to queer communities and queer lives.
Stafford is the epitome of changing the narrative of gay people, Aragon said.
"I definitely never thought about queer communities could be so harmful to one another how we need to be uplifting each other instead of being very divisive," said Aragon.
Zach Lindell, a sophomore government and politics major, said he came to the event because his LGBT200 professor sent out an email about the conversation and he found it worth checking out.
"I just found it interesting to hear about the guy who is the editor in chief of Grindr and also into it because it is just kind of cool," Lindell said.
Collin Vernay, the graduate coordinator for LGBTQ+ Student Involvement and Advocacy within the Office of Multicultural Involvement, and one of the event's organizers, said Stafford has done "extensive, incredible work" as a young queer man of color.
"I hope that students are left with a sense of possibility that Zach and his work is a possibility model for what queer folks of color, young queer folks of color can accomplish in a sort of nuance," Vernay said.