Online dating and getting your hands on the right dating apps can be frustrating. Finding users who have things in common with you can take time, and the interfaces and features of different dating apps and websites don’t always make this task easy. Add being a member of the LGBTQ community to the mix and things can get even more complicated — but they don’t have to be.
More of us are meeting our partners online than ever before, according to a 2020 survey by Pew Research, and when it comes to gay couples, this is even more common — in fact, 28% of those surveyed met their current squeeze online. Sadly, many LGBTQ online daters have horror stories to share of harassment or bullying online. Over half say they have received a sexually explicit image or message they didn’t ask for — compared to 32% of straight online daters — and 41% have experienced being called an offensive name on dating sites or apps. So when you’re hunting for a safe, inclusive space to date, how do you know which apps to choose?
There’s no need to worry, as we’ve selected some of the best LGBTQ dating apps for Android and iOS. Learning more about the different features of these apps will help you find an app that corresponds to the kind of online dating experience you would like to have.
Ever find yourself longing for the uncomplicated days of Craigslist personals? Then opt for Lex, a no-frills app with a healthy dose of ’80s and ’90s nostalgia. Inspired by the personal ads in On Our Backs, the woman-run erotica mag, it takes a simple yet charming approach to dating in the modern age. There are no cheesy selfies, just the opportunity to write an engaging personal ad that will — hopefully — help you meet your match.
The app isn’t just for dating — members have used it to make friends, start a band, and even plan a protest, according to its founder. Give shallow selfie swiping a miss and make a real, meaningful connection, or post in the “Missed Connection” section and you might find yourself getting together with that guy you saw at the farmers market but were too shy to speak to.
The app’s design is minimalist and inclusive, allowing you to choose your pronouns and asking you to agree to its strict rules of conduct for new members before you get started. You can browse the personals or search by keyword — so finding somebody who loves pizza as much as you do is totally achievable — send private messages, and save people’s posts to reply later, when you have more time. All this, and it’s totally free to use.
Surge is, dare we say, the Tinder for gay dating. It functions similarly to Tinder, with a swipe right to like and left to reject style — there’s even a Power Message option that’s the equivalent of a Super Like. It’s quick to sign up and you can share photos from your camera roll, Facebook, or Instagram to your profile. It’s free too, and you can swipe through potential matches (a limited number each day) and start chatting without paying a penny.
We love that Surge is all about inclusivity, and their motto “No Labels” means that whoever you are, you can be yourself while searching for your ideal match.
If you decide to upgrade to Premium membership, you’ll enjoy access to features like Who Liked Me, as well as Private Mode, where you’re only visible to guys you’ve already liked, the aforementioned Power Message to get you noticed, After-Match Photos, which allows you to upload private photos only visible to your matches, and several other handy features. You can sign up for a one-, three-, or 12-month membership starting at $7 a month.
Tser claims to be “the best TS and trans dating app for crossdressers and transgender women and men.” A pretty bold claim — but judging by the app’s popularity, it may well be true. Everyone’s welcome on the app, and it’s a safe space to be yourself, whatever your gender identity. It’s free to use and there’s a clean community policy that means no pornography or nudity is allowed.
Getting started involves filling out a few personal details, adding a couple of sentences (or a few paragraphs, if you’ve more to say) about what you’re looking for from the app, and uploading a photo. If we had one criticism during signup, it’s that the photo uploading process is very slow, and sometimes causes the app to crash.
Once you’re in, you can browse profiles and search for transgender singles near you using the filters. You can message matches for free, or start a voice message chat if you prefer to hear their voice. There’s a premium subscription that gives you access to additional features and starts from $13 a month, or you can sign up for three months for $27 or six months for $46.
It’s worth noting that the user base for Tser is still pretty small — but growing by the day — so unless you live in a major city, you may not find many matches near you.
Fans of Chappy, the gay dating site that shut down just as it was starting to peak in popularity will be pleased to hear that the app joined forces with Bumble. Bumble is committed to fighting inequality and creating a space for healthy, safe connections across the LGBTQ+ spectrum, so where better to find your match? Traditionally Bumble asked women to make the first move on their app — but when it comes to same-sex matches, either party can make the first move, and the other party has 24 hours to respond and start a chat.
When you first open the app you’re presented with the option to log in with your Facebook account or use a mobile number. You’ll set up your profile, which includes a startling amount of information, including what you’re looking for, what pets you have, and a wide range of sexual orientation and gender identity options. You also get to choose whether to display your gender identity to matches.
A new section called COVID Dating lets you set preferences for dating during the pandemic — for example, whether you’re okay with IRL dating or prefer to date virtually for now, and whether indoors or outdoors dates are your ideal. This will only be displayed to your matches, but it’s definitely a helpful way of gauging what people are open to, without having to ask. You can also connect your Instagram and Spotify to share even more about yourself with potential matches.
Bumble has a huge user base, making it easier to find matches in your area, and it’s free to use — plus the 24-hour time limit to make a connection means you’re less likely to let matches languish and be reshuffled into the deck. The recent addition of in-app voice and video chat functions, as well as the option to send audio notes, gives you plenty of ways to communicate if typing lengthy messages isn’t your thing. You can subscribe to Bumble Boost or Premium from $9 a month to access all of Bumble’s additional features.
Scruff allows you to browse through over 15 million profiles from nearby and around the world. Targeted toward men who have, or like, a little scruff, the app gives you options to search for different types of guys. The developers at Scruff have taken lots of steps to make the app more inclusive to everyone in the LGBTQ community, from being the first to include an option for the transgender community to removing the requirement to list an ethnicity when setting up a profile. It’s pretty easy to get started — just create your profile, entering your date of birth and uploading a photo to start matching. Profiles are pretty detailed, but you don’t have to fill everything out upfront. The app operates on a familiar swipe left or right format — but we love that if you can’t decide right now, you can choose “Ask Later” to be shown the guy again tomorrow.
There are loads of cool features to help you connect, like the quiz show, where you can meet new guys and compete for a cash prize, a social calendar of LGBTQ events in your area or worldwide, and Venture, your travel companion that lets you connect with guys in your destination city before you arrive.
Scruff is a free app, but if you want access to more advanced search features, user videos, and message histories, you’ll need to pay $20 a month for Scruff Pro.
If you’re tired of dating apps that don’t include the trans and queer communities, Grindr is a perfect solution. As the largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people, you won’t be short of choices when looking for a date. The app uses your phone’s location to find other members nearby and sign up is quick and easy – just fill out the form or sign up with your Facebook account.
The app will show you who’s in your area, with large, high-quality pictures, so there are no surprises. Don’t want to message someone right now? Just favorite them to speak to them later. You can even browse other locations, so if you’re moving to a new city or heading away for the weekend, you can meet people before you arrive. If something goes wrong, you can easily report or block accounts – but it’s worth noting free users get a limited number of blocks; a bit of a turnoff.
Grindr is free to use, with limits. With a free account, you can only see 100 profiles in your area – and there are other limits too. To lift them, you can subscribe to Grindr XTRA or Unlimited. XTRA lets you see up to 600 profiles, remove ads, and view who’s online now, plus a range of other upgrades – and it costs $20 per month. For the top-notch experience, Unlimited lets you view unlimited profiles, browse in Incognito mode, and see who’s viewed your profile. It also unlocks expiring photo mode, where images sent expire after 10 seconds – and the handy chat translate feature that lets you communicate with those who don’t speak your language. It’s a pretty hefty investment though at $25 a month.
Tinder is not just for straight folks — it lets you swipe right on people across the LGBTQ spectrum. Tinder has also added several new features to make it welcoming to trans and queer users. The More Genders feature gives users a wide variety of gender identity options, while the Traveler Alert feature warns users who have identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer when they enter a country that criminalizes this. This feature ensures your profile won’t be automatically shown when you’re traveling to one of these locations.
You don’t need a Facebook account to sign up for Tinder – but you do have to be older than 18. It’s quick to get started – just write a 500 character bio and add up to six images. There’s the option to link Tinder to your Instagram account too. Adjust your Discovery settings for who can find your profile, from distance and proximity to age range and gender identity.
Tinder operates on the now-familiar swipe right mechanism. You’ll only see a photo, name, and age for each prospective date. Tap on the photo to see some additional information – then swipe right to like them or left to pass. If you’ve fallen instantly in love, you can use a “super like” which the other person will receive instantly. If you both swipe right on each other, you’ll see a screen telling you you’ve matched and inviting you to chat. Tinder also recently adding video chat, great for getting to know each other better before meeting up, or dating during lockdown.
Tinder is free but you get limited swipes each day. To enjoy unlimited swipes and a whole host of other features, you can sign up for Tinder Plus or Tinder Gold. But the best thing about Tinder? It’s one of the most popular dating apps, so you’re more likely to meet someone you like who lives near you than on some of the other apps – and most people on the app actually want to meet up in real-life, whether for a hookup or something more.
Boasting over 30 million registered users, Hornet is one of the world’s largest dating apps designed by the gay community for the gay community. Founded in 2011, it’s as much a social network as a dating app, enabling you to create your own news feeds, join groups, and generally immerse yourself in online gay communities. Follow those you’re interested in and see their posts, videos, and photos — and share your own in the news feed. Use the virtual travel feature to explore the world, and engage in interesting conversations about every topic under the sun in curated discussions.
Hornet makes it easy to connect with others for friendship, hookups, and relationships — just use the filters to find the right person, comment on or like their posts, or send a heartstring to make a quick intro. The app takes privacy seriously, and there’s free 24/7 support if you need it.
It’s free to use, although you can subscribe to Premium to enjoy additional features — there’s a fixed period subscription or a rolling monthly one, starting from $10 per month.
With over five million users, HER is one of the most popular apps for LGBTQ women in the world, with over 5 million users. Its basic functionality revolves around the tried-and-tested “swipe right” formula of other popular apps, but it also aims to create a wider social and communal network around its core dating. As such, it covers LGBTQ+ news and shares details on relevant events taking place in your area, while it also periodically hosts parties and events in 15 cities around the world, including London, L.A., and New York. It also includes a group chat function for those who want more than just dating.
You’ll need an Instagram or Facebook account to sign up, and it’s free to use the app’s core features. Advanced features — such as the ability to see who’s online now or filter searches based on gender identity and sexuality — will require a subscription to HER Premium, which starts at $15 per month.
Targeted toward bears and their admirers, or “bear chasers”, GROWLr boasts over 10 million members worldwide. With GROWLr, it’s easy to chat, send photos and videos, enjoy a video call, or even send a shout-out to your town. There’s an Events section to see what’s happening in your areas, as well as handy Bear Bar and Bear Run listings — so you’ll never be short of places to meet bears near you or around the world. There are some cool social media-like features too, like Check-in, which lets you check-in at various venues and let other app members know you’re here.
GROWLr is a free download but offers a Pro membership from $10 a month — or pay for a year’s membership for $72. With Pro, you can enjoy searching in incognito mode, ad-free browsing, and a whole host of other features. If we had anything negative to say, it’s that the app only gives you a limited number of blocks, even for Pro members — 200 at the last count — which is frustrating. Users have also recently reported the app is buggy and crashes frequently, often while sending messages.
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