You can’t have missed the fact it’s pride week. It might seem that gay people are now accepted to live and work how and where they wish. Sadly this is not the case and gay people regularly suffer from harassment and social isolation. This is particularly true of the trans community. The internet has provided LGBT people with an essential resource for connecting with other gay people who share the same problems and outlook on life. Stories can be shared, help offered and a feeling of belonging imparted. Websites and apps have also offered LGBT people the ability to connect romantically without the anxiety involved in working out if someone else is gay and willing to engage in a public relationship.
“I’ve been embraced by a new community. That’s what happens when youre finally honest about who you are; you find others like you.” Chaz Bono
However, as with most things in life, men are catered for much better than women. This seems pretty unfair given the huge number of bars and clubs that openly cater to gay men. Similar entertainment and meeting spaces for gay women are few and far between which makes the need for good online exchanges even more important.
There are of course several well know dating apps out there which have an enormous following – take Tinder. You would expect these services to have lots of like minded bi and gay women on there. However this app isn’t very good at matching gay women with other gay women – it seems to want us all to settle down with a nice man whatever our preferences state! The likes of Zoosk, eHarmony and Match are getting better at providing a service to gay men but the focus for us girls isn’t quite as well developed yet. There are some specific sites for us gay girls which are much better like HER, Pink Sofa, Scissr, Gaydar Girls and Pink Lobster.
It takes some intelligence and insight to figure out you’re gay and then a tremendous amount of balls to live it and live it proudly.” Jason Bateman
The trouble with most online services is that they are open to men. Don’t get me wrong I’m not a man-hater but I am sick of straight men trawling lesbian pages and messaging us for kicks or being generally creepy and asking for weird photos (I’m sure that straight women using these apps probably have the same complaint). A high degree of vetting is needed to keep fake profiles off these sites. However, with automated sign up processes not many websites manage to offer their gay women a network that prevents voyeuristic guys joining up.
While we are talking about photos I should also mention that I hate oversharing of highly personal photos. If I go online I want to chat about life in general and get to know new people I don’t want to be assaulted by unsolicited photos of boobs and genitalia. Why on earth do people post these images on public forums!? It takes a great deal of investment from a website owner to manage posts and users so that these sort of behaviours are not acceptable – most sites can’t be bothered and let anything go. This spoils the website for everyone and prevents them being genuinely helpful forums.
Its Not All About Sex
I also don’t like the emphasis on dating and, amongst women, I know I’m not alone. Gay and bi girls and women want, and in same cases need, access to other gay women for advice and support. What if you live in a small town and are facing serious harassment or you don’t know how to come out to your family? An experienced and supportive network can be incredibly helpful. This type of social interaction requires more than a site geared towards dating, it needs open public forums, controlled groups as well as private spaces – i.e. a social network. However, it has to be actively managed to keep it clean and safe and we don’t want to pay for it or it has to be cheap. Impossible? Well actually no.
There are a few good ones in America but they are targetted at Christian Lesbians which is not really inclusive enough to interest most of us. There is a good one based in Europe that has a worldwide memebrship, GayGirlNet. The focus is not just on dating it’s on communication and chat. The site admins are really active and they take the time to educate users about inappropriate behaviours. Offensive usernames and photos are quickly removed and abuse reports are always investigated. I don’t know why this isn’t more popular in Europe and the US as it isn’t overly commercialised and you can use many of the site’s features for free. Best of all you can feel free to just chat without dating being on the cards.
Every gay and lesbian person who has been lucky enough to survive the turmoil of growing up is a survivor. Survivors always have an obligation to those who will face the same challenges.” Bob Paris