App for That

No Matter the Age, Queer Folks Are on Dating Apps

Remember when folks were meeting people IRL? Well, probably not since queer folks of all ages are taking to dating apps

A new study from the Pew Research Center shows that queer folks continue to keep dating apps alive. The study showed that lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans (51%) are more likely than their straight counterparts (28%) to have ever used a dating site or app. Out of queer folks ages 18 to 49, 54% stated that they used a dating site or app, compared to 39% of those ages 50 to 64 and 30% of those 65 and older. But one thing the study found true, lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults under 65 were all equally as likely to confirm their dating app usage. 

This information deviates heavily from straight folks using dating apps. The study found that straight individuals ages 18 to 29 were three times likely to use dating apps and sites than those 30 and up. Additionally, out of the lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults surveyed, queer men were more likely than queer women to have ever dealt with online dating platforms (57%) and were more likely to say they were current dating app users as well (17%). But it seems that there’s a happy ending somewhere because queer men (37%) were more likely to say they met their significant other on a dating app than queer women (18%). 

Who says you can’t find love on Grindr?

When a straight person sees this data, it might confuse them, but when anyone queer thinks about these numbers, it probably makes sense why queers dominate dating apps. Community is a huge aspect of queer life, but historically, the LGBTQ+ community hasn’t always been able to congregate openly. So when we aren’t allowed to create community IRL, then we find the next best thing, community online. And this isn’t something that sprung up in the new millennium.

Since the 1980s, queer folks have connected online, with many using bulletin board systems (BBSs), regional or local dial-up networks running on a computer or across several that were managed by enthusiasts, many of them gay. Queer users would flock to BBSs, like Backroom and Doug’s Den, to share everything from hobbies and politics to cruising areas and meetup spots over painstakingly slow Internet. By the 1990s, BBSs evolved into mailing lists, like the 46 different ones managed by the women-loving-women mailing list aggregate Sappho. Not to mention an estimated one-third of the chat rooms on the web portal AOL (or GayOL), the precursor to social media, were overrun by the LGBTQ+ community. 

Many of these BBSs, mailing lists, and chat rooms gave way to the online communities established across Grindr, HER, Jack’d, and other queer-centered apps today. So when we look at the development of LGBTQ+ online community and dating, don’t call it a comeback, call it an evolution. If the pandemic didn’t show us anything, it showed that queer people will continue to date and create community, whether it takes place face-to-face or over mobile devices. 

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