To be honest, I feel like a bad gay; more specifically, one that hasn’t really participated in any public events to display my inner rainbow in over a year. Most recently, I missed Pride and Trans Pride, I’ve missed drag events with friends performing at the gay club, Chemistry, but generally, I’ve missed the active presence of my people.
Although I’m currently taking a class that centers around the role of LGBT issues in relation to race, gender, class and the political structures which shape these forces, I feel disconnected.
In parts of Greensboro near campus, the presence of the LGBT community is undeniably strong; however, the easiest way for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to connect is social media.
For LGBT college students and young adults, one of the largest social sites flocked to is tumblr, and the largest dating app, Tinder. The issue with Tinder is that it wasn’t really made with LGBT people specifically in mind, and, navigating Tinder as a lesbian can be difficult for a myriad of reasons.
First and foremost, is the issue of visibility; as Tinder is arguably the most mainstream dating app, so, closeted lesbians beware, setting Tinder preferences as looking for women will arouse suspicion. However, the opposite is also an issue, because more often than not, it isn’t clear whether or not matches are with another woman loving woman, or of a straight girl looking for friends.
And, as any lesbian Tinder user can attest, the presence of men invading spaces designated for women interested in other women is abhorrent and rampant. It is enough for many to just delete the app and move on, and as of late, what they are moving on to is HER.
Hailed as the dating app designed for LGBT women, HER has garnered a lot of attention since its creation this year. Created by the makers of Dattch, one of the most popular dating apps for women loving women, HER utilizes a variety of features from other popular social media.
In an attempt to reconnect with my people on a local level, I decided to download HER.
I was, in fact, pleasantly surprised with what I found. HER is primarily an app for women loving women to find other women, but it is also a social network.
Like Facebook, there is a “Feed” section, unlike Facebook, this is separated by the subset categories, “News,” “Discuss” and “Events.”
Under “News,” any user in the area can post links and videos, with the option to like, comment and share these links. “Discuss” functions like a never-ending stream of Facebook statuses and “Events” connect to LGBT related events in the area.
The other categories, “Meet,” “Notifications” and “Me” are pretty standard for dating apps, but it’s nice to have so many different sexuality options to identify as under settings for “Me.”
HER differentiates from Tinder in that users don’t have to go through several pictures under a profile before finally swiping left or right. Instead of the sanctimonious “match” and general focus on making matches with people, the app is more casual and notifies users when someone likes one of the pictures in their profile.
This, I believe, works to the app’s advantage.
While the lesbian stereotype of U-hauls on the second date prevails, many millennial women loving women aren’t necessarily looking for romance or anything serious. As a result of this changing attitude, the app also adapts with multiple interface options.
Having so many different ways for women loving women to connect diversifies the app, reaches a larger user demographic and can be a lot less intimidating for young and questioning women.
People are also able to connect their HER profiles to tumblr blog posts, which is a particularly smart marketing feature for HER, that taps into large blog networks for lesbians and multisexual women.
Through my experience on HER, I quickly came to appreciate the app’s rye understanding their demographic. In HER’s about section, it has pointed and relatable commentary.
These quips include but are not limited to: “Finally. You can start dating a lesbian that hasn’t slept with any of your friends,” “Because sometimes (or most times) you just want to read about lesbians… Whether you want a piece on LBGT rights or cat gifs reacting to Piper & Alex” and “We were sick of not having somewhere we could call home. Gay guys had their zillion apps, straight people got Earth. We wanted lesbians to have their space.”
Personally, I think the app is well overdue and a refreshing change of pace from mainstream dating apps.
I haven’t seen a single man or been propositioned to “spice up” someone else’s relationship, so, although I am new to HER, I look forward to using it to reconnect with Greensboro’s women loving women communities.