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Grindr shutters its digital publication Into

The company laid off its editorial and social media staff

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hookup culture, gay news, Washington Blade
(Photo via Bigstock)

Grindr unexpectedly laid off the editorial and social media staff for its digital LGBT publication, Into, on Tuesday in an effort to shift to video content.

According to the Advocate, Grindr’s communications department issued a statement to the press explaining the pivot.

“This decision was driven by the high user engagement and development we see through channels such as Twitter and YouTube. With this strategic shift in focus, several Into employees will be leaving the company. This was a difficult decision and one that we do not take lightly. We want to thank these colleagues for all of their contributions to Grindr and our community,” the statement reads.

Into’s staff penned a goodbye letter calling the decision “a tremendous loss for LGBTQ media, journalism, and the world. “

Into launched in 2017 as an online LGBT publication aimed at millennials. During it’s run, it earned a GLAAD nomination and won an award from the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF). After it’s debut, other dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble began to follow suit with plans to launch their own digital editorial platforms.

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai told Forbes in 2017: “We want Into to give people an understanding of the gay world, from a global perspective. It’s quite ambitious but we like to do things big and we like to positively impact the community.”

In November, Into published a story titled “Grindr President Says Marriage Is ‘Holy Matrimony Between a Man and a Woman’ In Deleted Social Media Post,” which called out Grindr President Scott Chen’s same-sex marriage comments.

“Some think marriage is between a man and a woman. I think so, too, but it’s a personal matter,” Chen wrote in a Facebook post that was translated from Chinese to English. “Some people think the purpose of marriage is to have your own biological children. It’s a personal matter, too.”

Chen defended his statement saying that his comments were lost in translation. A few weeks later Landon Rafe Zumwalt, Grindr’s head of communications, resigned.

“As an out and proud gay man madly in love with a man I don’t deserve, I refused to compromise my own values or professional integrity to defend a statement that goes against everything I am and everything I believe. While that resulted in my time at Grindr being cut short, I have absolutely no regrets. And neither should you,” Zumwalt wrote in a statement.

Into was honored on social media as people grappled with its sudden demise.

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Theater

‘Blindness’ explores a terrifying new pandemic

Sidney Harman Hall production features immersive sound, light installation

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The audience takes the stage in ‘Blindness.’ (Photo by Helen Maybanks)

‘Blindness’
Through June 13
Shakespeare Theatre Company
Sidney Harman Hall
610 F St., N.W.
$44-54
Shakespearetheatre.org

Masks and social distancing, yes, but I never expected a return to live theater to include a stage without actors and an audience seated onstage. But that’s exactly how it went it down on a recent sunny Saturday morning in Washington.

We longed for something, and after a year of indisputably warranted darkness, the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) has obliged by reopening Sidney Harman Hall with Donmar Warehouse’s terrifyingly enthralling production of “Blindness,” an immersive sound and light installation anchored by Juliet Stevenson’s astonishing recorded vocal performance heard — jarringly, soothingly, eerily — through binaural headphones.

Adapted by Simon Stephens from Nobel Prize winner José Saramago’s same-titled dystopian novel, and staged by Walter Meierjohann (“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”), the London born, 75-minute tale begins with narrator Stevens matter-of-factly relaying the details surrounding the outbreak of a pandemic that causes blindness. What starts off as an alarming, isolated incident, rapidly devolves into something all-encompassing and petrifying.

Uncannily, Saramago’s 1995 book, both looks back to plague stories and prophetically toward COVID-19.
In addition to narrator, Stevenson (an Olivier Award-winning stage actor also known for films like “Truly, Madly, Deeply”) plays the wife of an ophthalmologist whose office is where patient zero spreads the disease to various other patients – a little cross-eyed boy, an alluring young woman hiding a case of conjunctivitis behind dark sunglasses, a thief, an older gent sporting an eye patch, and sundry others.

The doctor’s wife, who is immune to the new sight-stealing disease, is doomed/blessed to become the lone eyewitness to violence, injustices, and death as the situation becomes progressively scary, primitive, and dangerous.

Rather than darkness, the afflicted are submerged into a world of milky whiteness. The pandemic – a new pathogen whose means of transmission is unknown – moves quickly throughout the city, then the nation, and beyond. Early in the outbreak, the health ministry is reluctant to get too involved, choosing instead to minimize the seriousness of what’s happening. Sounds familiar, I know.

Like the story, Jessica Hung Han Yun’s lighting design becomes increasingly menacing as things move along. Originally playfully colorful fluorescent tubes suspended high from the ceiling, they turn stark white and are lowered to audience members’ line of sight. Then they are darkened altogether, interrupted by occasional bright colorless flashes.

Through headphones, the audience hears rain storms, harsh announcements, barricades being dragged, screams, sobs, footsteps, and gunshots. At times, Stevenson whispers in your ear. Once, I mechanically answered “Yes, I’m here.”

Masked, seated often in total darkness, headphones, it’s immersive, sometimes claustrophobically so. (If it becomes too much, there’s a flash light attached to the leg of each metal chair. Turn it on and an usher will escort you off the stage.)

During the pandemic STC has developed health and safety measures that include masks, air filtration, social distancing, etc.

For “Blindness” only 40 patrons are allowed per viewing. No one is seated next to someone outside of their own party, and a limited number of single tickets are available for purchase by calling the box office. Headsets, seats, and flashlights are disinfected before every performance, and all bathrooms and lobby spaces will be cleaned prior to the next seating group enters the building.

Exiting the Harman, you might think how odd it is to have been on stage before the actors’ union has allowed them to perform indoors before a live audience.

Outdoors, the warm wind feels invigorating against your face as you walk down the street. Still, the nearby upscale Mexican restaurant’s windows remain boarded and the half dozen people around you are walking determinedly, all — except one — wearing a mask.

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Movies

Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs screens ‘Eat With Me’

David Au’s directorial debut presented

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In celebration of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, The Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, DC Public Library, and the Mayor’s Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs host a screening of “Eat With Me” for May’s #DCQueerFlix on May 14, beginning at 6 p.m.

“Eat With Me,” David Au’s directorial debut, features the story of a mother and her gay son learning to reconnect while trying to keep their business afloat. The film offers a novel take on love, life, and food in the center of Los Angeles.

“Eat With Me” will be available on the Kanopy streaming service and is free for D.C. library patrons.

To register for this virtual event, visit the Eventbrite page.

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Out & About

Virtual panel tackles Va. trans student policies

Equality Virginia event to dissect VDOE guidance

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inclusive curricula, Frederick County School Board, transgender students, gay news, Washington Blade

Equality Virginia hosts a virtual panel focused on dissecting the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) newly released guidance concerning the treatment of transgender and non-binary youth in schools. This event will be on May 12 at 6 p.m.

Perspectives from LGBTQ youth, parents, legal experts, and community leaders will be shared to shed light on VDOE’s new policies set to go into effect during the 2021-2022 school year.

Event registration is available here.

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