In general, dating has come a long way throughout the past few decades. Thanks to modern social channels, the dating process has evolved to a point where finding a match could be as easy as sliding into someone’s DMs.
The question is: does that effortlessness exist in the LGBTQIA+ dating world as it does for cisgender folks? The answer is moot.
While society has undeniably grown acceptant of queer individuals, that doesn’t mean that the stigma against the community is gone; not even inside dating apps strictly made for gay people.
Yes, we still have plenty of work to do. But, at the very least, modern dating apps and social media have matched queer people in all sorts of ways. Some of them don’t even have to swipe right: a single comment on a TikTok video could be indicative of a lasting relationship down the road.
That said, let’s explore the ups, the downs, and the possibilities for queer dating in 2023.
How Apps Changed LGBTQIA+ Dating
Before the internet was a thing, finding a queer partner was a covert activity. From Boston Marriages to personal newspaper ads and bespoke bar encounters, the LGBTQIA+ community would go out of their way to meet with potential partners.
Fast-forwarding to the 90s, many queer folks would find their first dates in chats like AOL. From that point on, the internet paved the way for revolutionary apps that would become inclusive and easily accessible.
Not only do these apps help people explore their sexuality, but they keep the low-profile and socially awkward bunch at home. At least until it’s time to finally graduate to in-person dates.
“As a generally anxious person, I like that technology that allows me to avoid talking to other humans is readily available,” Gillian Lelchuk writes for the Johns Hopkins Newsletter.
To some queer people, particularly for those who are still in the closet, dating apps are an answered prayer.
“A lot of my straight friends will be like, ‘why don’t you just meet people in real life?’ But it’s hard to know if someone’s gay sometimes, and it can be kind of anxiety-inducing to bring that up with people,” Rachael Thompson told The New York Times.
“As a closeted gay man, dating apps were the only place for me to discreetly find other gay men when I graduated college nearly a decade ago,” Michael Kaye, the director of communications at OkCupid, shared with PopSugar Magazine.
Some people are surprised at how the availability of dating apps facilitates dating as a queer person. They don’t need to go to bars or parties – not if they don’t feel like it. Instead, they can date-surf from the comfort of their couches and avoid “IRL” until things get somewhat serious.
As helpful as they may be, dating apps remove the spark of bumping into people and falling in love with them “organically.”
“We now have the ability to pick up our smartphone and interact with hundreds of guys in minutes… Maybe that’s part of the problem, we’re spoilt for choice,” wrote Tom Knight for Gay Times UK.
As a queer person, online dating could still mean being surrounded by curious straight people, specifically when it comes to the fetishization of those groups. Besides, it’s not uncommon for dating apps to reduce users to an easy hookup.
Hook up-focused apps like Grindr and gay clubs are often hyper-sexualized, potentially preventing LGBTQIA+ members from finding other serious relationship-seekers. This makes it difficult to connect with others who are looking for more than casual dating or flings.
Apps Like Tinder, Hinge, and Grindr Aren’t the Same When You’re Gay
Well-meaning straight people will tell their queer friends “just download Tinder.” Even though apps like Tinder are meant for all genders, things don’t always go smoothly for everyone.
It’s easier for straight people to suggest such a thing, as they’re always surrounded by other straight people. Queer people, on the other hand, are used to going the extra mile to find someone on their level. That could mean resorting to queer apps, where they’ll come across plenty of straight couples looking for a “third.”
“The pressure to get a Tinder makes me feel like I can’t have a normal romantic experience. It makes me feel like I’m backed into a corner. The ‘easy’ way out is to get a Tinder, but in reality that’s the only way out,” Jacob Took writes for the Johns Hopkins Newsletter.
Which Is Why Many LGBTQIA+ Are Turning to Other Non-Dating Apps
TikTok Search has seen all kinds of queries ranging from “how to meet gay men in your area” to “how can u meet a lesbian partner.” And gladly, there’s plenty of content to accompany those searches.
There’s a reason why The New York Times has called TikTok “the next Tinder for lesbians.” Particularly for women in the LGBTQIA+ community, the modern social media app is a solid alternative to dating apps, with the perks of learning about their personalities, lifestyles, and interests.
“I would say that TikTok is already a dating app for gay/bisexual girls, especially Gen Z,” Hannah Moreno, a TikTok user, told HuffPost.
But – and there’s always a but – it’s safe to say that not everyone uses TikTok. While it could work as a detour from your typical dating app, we shouldn’t expect social media to do the work reserved for a different type of technology.
When social media, dating apps, and IRL won’t cut it, you have the choice of matchmaking services.
Matchmaking services like Tawkify aren’t dating apps, and neither are they dating websites. Matchmaking involves humans helping other humans match with their potential life partner.
Granted, it can be hard to start dating again, especially after bad experiences. In the words of Tawkify matchmaker Karmen Paley, “I think that queer people find this service a little scary, but a little attractive. Once they know what kind of hands they’re in, it tends to go well.”
If you enjoy having mutual friends introduce you to an interesting person, you’ll find that a matchmaking service is a great alternative way to meet people you would otherwise not have crossed paths with.