LGBTQ+ Online Dating: a Historical Overview
Before the launch of HER in 2015, LGBTQ+ women faced challenges in the dating landscape. Exton noted that existing platforms either mimicked gay men’s sites with superficial modifications for women or featured straight-oriented content that was not suitable for queer women. This gap in the market prompted Exton to create a dating product tailored to women’s needs.Originally launched as Dattch, the app eventually rebranded as HER. Exton drew inspiration from Grindr, which had successfully catered to gay men’s dating needs. However, HER evolved beyond a hookup-focused model to provide users with content, events, and opportunities to connect with friends, addressing broader community needs.
Several dating apps, such as Tser, are explicitly designed for the trans community. Tser markets itself as a platform for transgender individuals and their allies to connect online and foster friendships and support.
However, user reviews for Tser on appfollow.com vary, with some praising its functionality while others criticize its use of potentially transphobic language and categorization of users as ‘men’ and ‘women.’
Mary Richardson, co-creator of the label-free LGBTQ+ dating app Bindr, developed the app in response to the feeling that she and her partner didn’t belong in the existing dating scene. Bindr allows users to share their sexual orientation and gender identity if they wish but doesn’t require it. Richardson prioritizes user safety and personally reads every support ticket to ensure a welcoming environment, particularly for transgender and nonbinary individuals.
With an increasing number of people identifying as LGBTQ+, a variety of niche dating apps have emerged. Dr. Timaree noted that while more choices offer opportunities, they can also lead to decision fatigue and a marketplace-like dynamic. Dating apps have shifted how people connect romantically, introducing challenges in establishing genuine connections in a world with more options but often less accountability than traditional in-person interactions.