If you are on a dating app, you’re either single (second most likely), cheating on your partner (third most likely) or doing research for an article (most likely). Whichever one applies to you, it doesn’t matter, we have all now arrived in the 21stcentury version of the bar that your parents met in. The only difference between the two is that un-requested nudity is now the custom, and you are more likely to see a miserable ‘dick pic’ than to get the round of drinks your friend swore they were going to get this time. But enough about the general and vague: I want to talk about the importance of LGBT+ dating apps. Though be advised, this isn’t a ‘how to’ manual for your first Grindr hook-up.
I downloaded my first LGBT+ dating app, Hot or Not (crass, I know), when I was 15. Living in the sticks and not knowing anyone else who was LGBT+, simply seeing the existence of others like me was more than a liberation; I felt as if I had tapped into an underground world, electrifying and strange, and I wanted to dive further into this intriguing scene. Around the same time, my friends at school had downloaded similar apps, and we would sit around in breaks swiping similar faces left and right until it became a routine to judge and dismiss shapes based on superficial traits. The only difference between myself and my friends? When I downloaded any dating apps, I had to go into the settings of the app and change it, to the ‘other’ setting, the ‘different’ setting, the ‘subordinate’ setting; gay.
With exclusively LGBT+ apps such as Grindr and Chappy, Scissr and Her ever on the rise, the LGBT+ dating scene seems to be more accessible and accommodating than ever before. There are more places for the LGBT+ community online, and more importantly, more places online where we don’t have to dive into settings to cater the app to us. Liberal capitalism and dedicated LGBT+ activists have done that for us. So here we are, at a far more promising stage than we were 5 years ago. But there is still much more work to do.
When LGBT+ people aren’t represented online, it’s because they aren’t represented in reality. The minorities of this world don’t have the leisure of abandoning self-promotion indefinitely, instead it is a constant job in addition to your 9-5, and it’s not even lunchtime yet, let alone a smoke break. What still lacks in all these apps, and the app market is representation of the smallest of small voices; everyone in-between the default labels within gender and sexuality. This is always the largest flaw and struggle for the LGBT+ community, making sure we represent everyone within our family and not just the cisgender, gay, and male…
LGBT+ dating apps send me the same message as LGBT+ characters in films and TV, LGBT+ artists and public figures, even LGBT+ cartoon characters. The message isn’t necessarily that we are being listened to or even valued and respected – we still lack that privilege all over the world. The message is that we are starting to change reality. We are taking what we deserve. And we are moulding the future for the next generation so they don’t have to change the world to fit in.
“we are changing reality. We are taking what we deserve”