INTO, the online LGBTQ magazine owned and operated by gay dating app Grindr, terminated on Tuesday its editorial staff, effectively ending the digital outlet’s 17-month run.
“The company will be refocusing its efforts on video and as such, the editorial and social teams were let go this morning,” a joint statement from several INTO employees said. “We feel that INTO’s closure is a tremendous loss for LGBTQ media, journalism, and the world.”
INTO, which launched in August 2017, published news articles, op-eds and advice columns geared toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer readers. The outlet’s journalism won awards from NLGJA (formerly the National Lesbian Gay Journalism Association) and the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund.
“We told stories of transgender prisoners forced to endure nightmarish treatment behind bars, LGBTQ asylum seekers looking for hope and refuge in the United States, and drag queens fighting for space and community in small town Tennessee,” the joint statement continued. “We shared the hopes and joys of the LGBTQ community, our successes and setbacks, and our triumphs and heartaches during a vulnerable political moment.”
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In a statement shared with NBC News, a Grindr spokesperson said the decision to dismiss INTO's staff was a "strategic shift in focus."
“As with any growing business, we have to continually evaluate what is best for Grindr. After a thoughtful and collaborative process, Grindr’s leadership decided to modify INTO’s content mix to rely more heavily on video," the spokesperson told NBC News via email. "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.”
Grindr’s dismissal of INTO’s editorial staff comes just six weeks after the site published a story about Grindr President Scott Chen’s controversial comments about same-sex marriage.
“Some think marriage is between a man and a woman. I think so, too, but it’s a personal matter,” Chen wrote on Nov. 26 in a Facebook post that was translated from Chinese by NBC News. “Some people think the purpose of marriage is to have your own biological children. It’s a personal matter, too.”
Chen, who has been an executive at Grindr since Chinese gaming company Kunlun acquired the app in 2017, shot back at INTO’s story, saying it took his marriage comments out of context.
Chen’s comments, however, led to at least one executive leaving the company in protest. Two weeks after INTO reported on Chen’s controversial comments, the company’s then head of communications, Landon Rafe Zumwalt, stepped down.
“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,” Zumwalt wrote on Medium.com.
When asked on Tuesday about the layoffs of INTO’s editorial staff, Zumwalt said he was not surprised and called it “extremely sad for the queer community.” When asked whether he thought the closure may be related to the publication of an article critical of Grindr’s president, Zumwalt said “no comment.”
INTO’s former managing editor, Zach Stafford, left the company last month, a week after Zumwalt, but Stafford did not make any public comments regarding whether Chen’s Facebook post influenced his decision to part ways with the company.
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