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Tinder — the popular dating app for the young, hot, and tech-savvy single — has made over 75 billion matches since it launched in 2012. But is Tinder gay friendly (or lesbian, bisexual, trans, and queer friendly, for that matter)? Our online dating experts took a look at Tinder through rainbow-colored glasses, and this is what we found out.
It’s no secret that Tinder’s gay friendliness has regularly been called into question by users over the years. Even former Tinder CEO Sean Rad has admitted, “The product works for the gay community, but we need to do a better job of sort of calling it out.”
By “works for the gay community,” perhaps Rad means it is technically possible to find the same-sex love of your life through this latest iteration of the hot-or-not game. The app does allow users to identify as male or female and then indicate interest in male, female, or male and female. So in the strictest sense, sure, Tinder is gay, lesbian, and bisexual friendly, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most popular option, and we’ve heard singles complain that sometimes the app promotes inactive profiles and straight profiles when it runs out of local gay options.
A plethora of anecdotal evidence suggests that — whether owing to app glitches, user error (or intentional creepiness), or the relatively small LGBTQIA+ userbase — Tinder will show you people outside of your selected preference with aggravating frequency.
Spoiler alert: I skipped Tinder altogether and met my wife on Match, but if you really want to get the low-down on Tinder, read on.
What Tinder does have going for it, lady love-wise, is that because it pulls profile information from Facebook (without advertising your every dating move), you can see friends you have in common — often a big comfort factor for women whether straight, lesbian, or bi.
But for lesbians who aren’t super excited about random men popping up on their screens, Tinder is almost guaranteed to annoy. And while some ladies enjoy a challenge, most lesbians looking for love don’t appreciate Tinder suggesting straight women to them, either.
Gay men also run into this issue of ill-fitting matches — though maybe less often, perhaps owing to the growing number of “not gay” men looking for gay sex.
But what about trans, queer, and non-binary people? Tinder is getting better at recognizing the dating world doesn’t just include men and women. The app now offers 80 gender options and nine sexual orientation options upon signup, so that’s definitely a step in the right direction.
To be sure, Tinder creates local dating opportunities for TQIA+ users — but it can likewise create demeaning and even dangerous interactions. Trans users, queer people, and lesbian women are particularly at risk for becoming victims of harassment by other members. Gender fluid people also often see their profiles flagged as fake, deceptive, or inauthentic, which is really a sad situation for a person just honestly looking for a date.
Tinder pays lip service to the fact that it wants to look after trans singles and uphold the right for everyone of every gender identity and sexual orientation to online date safely. But, honestly, we haven’t yet seen evidence that it’s working very well for LGBTQIA+ folks.
So, is Tinder gay friendly? We give it a resoundingly lukewarm maybe. Tinder does have more gender options and identity options available now than ever before, and it is expanding its rainbow features to make things easier on the queer population. It’s just not quite there yet.
But LGBTQIA+ romantics probably have a better chance of finding love elsewhere. Match, OurTime.com, Zoosk, BlackPeopleMeet, and BeNaughty top our lists for the best lesbian dating sites and best gay dating sites.
And if it’s not exactly love you’re looking for, you can always brave the real world and meet people at the gym, grocery store, or farmers market.