HONOLULU: A new dating app designed to provide proof someone is free from sexually transmitted diseases is drawing criticism from Native Hawaiians.
An online petition is asking for the “Hula” app to change its name. Critics call the app that says it helps people “get lei’d” culturally insensitive and insulting, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
Hula’s Facebook page includes a post apologizing for offending the Hawaiian community: “We are in the process of learning more from your community, discussing internally and hope to address your concerns shortly.”
The company’s website says Hula is meant to “provide access to the information you need to make well-informed sexual health decisions.”
The three college students who started the petition say they are not opposed to the app’s functions but don’t want to see the hula dance — a beloved cultural art form — exploited.
“My culture is more than a tourist destination,” said Kelly Luis, a student at Columbia University. “It is more than a place to go for the summer. It’s more than just sexy hula girls on the beach. There is a culture there.”
As of Wednesday, nearly 700 people signed the petition at change.org.
The petition notes that the arrival of Europeans exposed Native Hawaiians to diseases such as gonorrhea and syphilis.
It’s not clear why the app is named Hula. It was originally called Qpid.me, but the name changed about six months ago.
Nani Kauka, a hula teacher from Kailua, said this is another example of the Hawaii culture being exploited and misunderstood.
“I don’t like it,” she said. “Why don’t they call it ballet or jazz?”