In several posts initially viewed by Insider, Grindr users are shown gaining access to the Tokyo Olympic Village via the app’s “Explore” feature. From there, they screen record their interactions on the app, revealing the identities of several athletes — many of whom are not yet out, or representing countries wherein homosexuality is illegal or discriminated against. At least ten videos of the sort have been shared to TikTok, while four have been posted on Twitter.
One TikTok in particular has gone viral, with at least 140,000 views at the time of publication. In the clip, the user navigates to Tokyo’s Olympic Village and scrolls over 30 Olympic athletes’ profiles, revealing athletes’ faces, names, and other personal information in the process. Therefore, this user outed at least 30 people to the world at large — at least one of whom was confirmed to represent a country wherein homosexuality is considered illegal.
“I used Grindr’s explore feature to find myself an Olympian boyfriend,” the video is captioned, the poster seemingly not acknowledging the magnitude of the situation. Other TikTok users, however, do. “Gay culture in Japan still isn’t supported. Don’t put these peeps in jeopardy just to get off on the other side of the world,” one wrote. While the poster then responded to this criticism with “appreciate you bringing this concern to the community’s attention,” the video remains visible on the app.
This may seem like a harmless viral prank for those sharing the clips, but this could potentially endanger the lives of the LGBTQ+ athletes whose profiles they are broadcasting — especially while in Japan. The country is notorious for its seemingly antiquated perspective on LGBTQ rights, and as reported by Amnesty International, systematically discriminates against the LGBTQ+ community. While technically ruled unconstitutional in May, same sex marriage still has yet to be legalised in Japan. The country also requires citizens who wish to change genders on official documents to undergo sterilisation and sex reassignment surgery.
Plus, as stated before, many athletes are from countries where homosexuality may still be an actual crime. In Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, for example, same-sex sexual activity is punishable by corporal punishment or death.
Thus, this careless trend endangers athletes from all over the world — regardless of whether or not homosexuality is legal in their home country. Homosexuality is not illegal in Russia, for example, who has won 196 Olympic Gold Medals to date. Homophobia still runs rampant in Russian culture, however, with at least one gay activist having been killed and seven “injured or beaten” in 2020, according to SOVA Center for Information and Analysis. The government also banned same-sex marriage and transgender citizens from adopting just this past April.
We have refrained from linking out to any of the aforementioned videos, in an attempt to protect the athletes’ identities. We hope others will do the same — especially those on Grindr.