How online dating changed the LGBT community
Guest Post by loveit coverit
Online dating services, be they online forums or dating apps on smartphones, have revolutionised the way that we meet each other. It’s now much less common to meet a romantic partner via ‘traditional’ means than it used to be – it’s estimated that nearly 1 in 3 people now meet their other half through some form of on online dating service.
While these services have had a huge impact on heterosexual couples, they’ve also been fundamental for members of the LGBTQ+ community, for a number of different reasons:
Safe Spaces to Meet
Research has shown that nearly 70% of LGBTQ+ couples meet through some form of dating app, highlighting how helpful they are in the community.
A big reason why so many gay, bi, transgender and non-binary users flock to LGBTQ+ dating apps is that they are a more convenient and efficient way of meeting appropriate romantic partners. Rather than having to scroll through thousands of local matches – some of whom may or may not correspond to your sexual orientation – LGBTQ+-specific services allow members of the community to find what they’re looking for, fast.
The use of LGBTQ+ dating services also mean that people who may not be publicly ‘out’ can happily explore their sexuality, while reducing the risk of accidentally coming across someone they know. Furthermore, in places that may not have spaces for LGBTQ+ people to meet ‘traditionally’, such as a bar or nightclub, online dating services offer a safe and discreet way of meeting romantic partners.
While most major dating sites and apps give you an option for ‘what you’re looking for’, which corresponds to how you define yourself, these are often very narrow definitions and exclusionary to large swathes of the LGBTQ+ community. For example, if you identify as gender-fluid or non-binary, you may not be giving that option when you sign up for a mainstream dating site, which will very often have ‘male’, ‘female’, and, sometimes ‘transgender’ as the core identifying options.
LGBTQ+-specific dating services do offer more identifiers, allowing members of the community to let matches know how they identify and what they’re looking for. Overall this is more inclusive of all aspects of the LGBTQ+ community.
More Options, More Choice
One thing that has defined the online dating age is the ability to have more options and more specific choices when looking for a romantic partner. This is clearly visible among Online Dating Association members, with services existing for all manner of interests and personalities, such as Bristlr, Christian Connection, Asian Singles Solution and Muddy Matches.
This level of choice is starting to become more prevalent in the LGBTQ+ community also, with individual services appearing to cater to the needs of different parts of the community. For example, while there are the mainstream options such as Grindr, Tinder, Match.com, and Plenty of Fish, LGBTQ+ daters can also use HER, a dating app specially aimed at gay women, and Transdr, for transgender and non-binary individuals.
Not only do these offer more choice for members of the LGBTQ+ community, it also allows them to date openly in safe spaces, away from less savoury aspects of the heterosexual community and their own, if they choose to.
Exclusion and Negativity
Despite the introduction of online dating services being a net positive for the LGBTQ+ community, there are some less positive aspects which are important to highlight in order to have a safe and great dating experience for everyone.
While LGBTQ+ dating apps are relatively inclusive, there are certain aspects that are particularly exclusive. For example, Grindr, one of the most subscribed to dating apps for gay men with 3.8 million daily users, has received accusations of racism, and body shaming within the community. This is usually presented by way of ‘sexual preference’ but has led to some members of the community feeling excluded as a result.
Online dating services have had a huge impact on how the LGBTQ+ community find romantic partners. Not only has it changed, as with all relationships, how members of the community meet and engage, it’s also given more options for meeting, allowing everyone to feel comfortable and safe while they date.
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