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Love them or hate them, I think we can all agree that dating apps tend to present certain, um, challenges. (See also: frustrations, headaches, and heartaches with a chance of ”I am going to throw my phone into the nearest gutter if I see another Tinder bio that says, “Looking for my partner in crime.”) And, unfortch, if you happen to be a person who is seeking literally anything outside of the standard heteronormative script, finding whatever it is you’re looking for on a dating app is that much harder. Your dating pool seriously shrinks, and less options = less opportunity to meet someone special.
Hence why it's super important as a queer person to make sure you’re downloading dating apps that are LGBTQ+ friendly—so you can be more intentional about who or what you're looking for.
“Today’s LGBTQ+ daters want to celebrate who they are,” says Michael Kaye, Director of Brand Marketing and Communications at Archer, a (brand eff-ing new!) gay dating app. “Queer daters want an app that understands and values every part of their identity and needs. They also value safe and secure spaces where they can express themselves authentically, free from discrimination or harassment.”
The good news? Those spaces *do* exist. Not only are traditional, mainstream dating apps finally starting to prioritize the needs of LGBTQ+ daters, but there are also a growing number of new dating apps out there that are designed exclusively for queer daters. And, lucky for you, we’ve graciously gone ahead and compiled a list of the very best gay dating apps for all your queer dating needs. Not only can these apps help you potentially find love, but they can also help you find a sense of belonging. Here are the ones that are actually worth downloading, like, RTFN.
Who it’s for: Queer men
Hello and welcome to the newest dating app for gay, bi, and queer men. Archer’s social-first model combines aspects of dating and social networking into one platform that prioritizes community, self-expression, and user safety, says Kaye. Archer offers unique features that allow queer men to express themselves, including profile photo verification to weed out fake profiles and pesky catfishes, and tags that allow users to get specific about who and what they’re looking for. “We understand that each person comes to a dating app for different reasons at different times. So on Archer, we give you all the tools you need to follow your own journey.” You simply love to see it.
Who it's for: Queer community as a whole
Unlike other dating apps, Lex doesn’t allow you to post photos. You can connect to your Instagram, but it’s not required. So in other words, it's basically like a queer Twitter where you can see what’s happening globally or just in your local area. You can use Lex for any type of relationship: dating, fuck buddies, friends, business partners. There’s a big focus on community building, and no tolerance for hate.
“Lex is my favorite because it deemphasizes photos and swiping, and emphasizes community,” says Cora McCold of Mindful Queer Dating. “It's as much an LQBTQ+ social hub as a dating app. In addition to meeting cuties, folks use Lex to offer extra tickets, announce LGBTQ+ events and gatherings, and as a place for mutual aid and support.”
Who it's for: Womxn
Cisgender, heterosexual people are basically the only people excluded. Though it was made as a dating app, it in some way functions as a social media app. It has a feed—much like Facebook’s, that allows you to see what others on the app are doing. For example, there's an event page to view upcoming queer events in your area and there is also a function to join “communities,” which allows you to meet people with similar interests. Of course, HER can also be used to swipe left or right for a soul mate, but its extra functions make it so much more than that.
Here's the bad news: The major drawback with Her is the paywall. If you want to see someone who has swiped right on you: paywall. If you want to chat with someone who is online near you, but you haven’t matched yet: paywall. If you want to have a decently lengthened conversation with someone you already matched with: paywall. If you have an extra $25.99 a month you will have a great time. But for those single ladies on a budget, this one may not be The Move.
Who it's for: Mxn
Please, please, please say goodbye to Grindr. Scruff works similarly, but is focused on more than just hookups. It also includes a global feature, so you can get access to men far away from you, and that makes it easy to meet people in different cities when you want to travel. Plus, the app even shows you queer events near you so you can connect in person (back when people are allowed outside).
JSYK though, Scruff is primarily targeted toward hairy men (otters, bears, and cubs specifically). It also recently added a paywall ($20 a month), which makes access to its features annoying at best.
Who it's for: Bisexuals and Pansexuals
This app does not care how you identify in terms of gender, ethnicity, ability etc., as long as you are bisexual or pansexual. This helps make a safe space for those who are attracted to multiple genders to find each other. It also includes a space for you to list almost anything else about yourself: hair color, eye color, height, religion, star sign, education, political beliefs, pets, body type, etc.
While these descriptions lean on the side of superficiality, especially given you can only choose from their list of options, they also make it easier for finding a partner who you share beliefs with. BiCupid functions like a cross between Tinder and Grindr, where you can swipe left or right, or you can peruse profiles of others on the app.
6. Ace Dating
Who it's for: Asexual community
Most other dating apps either implicitly or explicitly include some form of sexualization, but Ace Dating aims to create a space for asexual people to connect and form a community. Plus, it offers the opportunity to video chat with your potential partners.
It's great in theory, but be prepared for some bugs. Not to mention, users have reported an overwhelming number of bots, making it difficult to connect with real people.
Who it’s for: Everyone
When it comes to mainstream dating apps, OkCupid has a long history of being ahead of the game in terms of inclusivity. In 2014, the app expanded gender and sexuality options for users to select, and in 2016, it added non-monogamy options. Basically, OkCupid was prioritizing the needs of LGBTQ+ daters before it was cool, and we love them for it.
Who it's for: Everyone
Is tinder a garbage hole full of fuck boys? Sometimes! But everyone is on it, so it’s much easier to meet someone. Specialized dating apps have limited pools of users, but if you want to play a numbers game, Tinder is the right option. You will have to evade couples looking for thirds, but overall, it’s great. You have access to the whole community, and you’ll have better odds at finding a partner—or maybe just a hookup if that’s what you want.
Who it’s for: Everyone
Generally speaking, Emma Ziff, Co-director of Pink Lobster Dating and Matchmaking, encourages queer daters (especially women) to prioritize LGBTQ+ dating apps that cater specifically to those communities. But, once again, if you’re looking for more options, a mainstream dating app is where you’ll find them. And, as far they go, Bumble tends to be relatively harmless. Of course, you will still have some unicorn hunters to dodge, but overall Bumble is a fairly solid, all-purpose dating app.
Who it’s for: Everyone
As we all know, Hinge is similar to Tinder in that you’re surrounded by the straights. But, also like Tinder, it has the benefit of everyone being on it. It is targeted specifically at dating (rather than hookups) so it’s perfect for those looking for a relationship. They also added a video chat function during the pandemic so you can do a virtual first date. You’re also much less likely to run into fetishizing straights than you are on Tinder.
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