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LGBTQ sexuality has always been linked to symbols and codes to express sexual interest—like “top,” “bottom,” and “twink.” But now Grindr, the gay hookup and dating app, is changing up the way gay users can chat with each other, too.
Gaymoji is a separate, downloadable app from Grindr that features 500 gay-themed icons. One hundred emoji are free, and the other 400 can be unlocked by paying $3.99. The emoji are available for both iOS and Android. Examples include a peach emoji with a phone on top (booty call), a man on a top and bottom bunk bed (representing whether one is a “top” or a “bottom”), and a man restrained as a submissive sexual partner, which is self-explanatory.
Grindr Creative Director Landis Smithers told the Times that “almost 20 percent” of Grindr messages included emoji, so the company introduced the library in order to give users a more thorough ability to express themselves and their sexuality while looking for hook-up partners.
However, due to emoji’s corporate background, some LGBTQ peers are concerned that a Gaymoji release could muddle the language that LGBTQ people use to communicate with one another. Emoji, of course, were originally developed by mobile companies in Japan, then later brought to the West through both Google and Apple. University of Virginia’s Doug Meyer, an assistant professor for the university’s women, gender, and sexuality studies department, fears the business elements behind Gaymoji could hurt the queer community as a whole.
“One problem is, you have this common language that’s not being organically created by marginalized people,” Meyer told the Times. “The corporate element is a new part of this. Having a common corporate language created to benefit a business ends up excluding a lot of people and creating very particular and normative ways of thinking about sex.”
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.