Back in the day, marriages were decided over a cup of tea, some samosas, and a 10 minute conversation between the future bride and groom about their likes and dislikes, with their whole family staring at them. Or it was an infamous exchange of tiny notes via your deskmate, a school trip to Manali where sparks flew. It was usually offline.
Things haven’t gotten undemanding now—Love has all this and algorithms you have to work with. You have to keep swiping to find your one and on what basis do you swipe? Judging some witty (always lame) bio, looking at a few selfies, and obviously a quote from ‘The Office’? Is that what it has been reduced to? There, now you’re sent off to choose your fighters aka the individual who you would spend the rest of your life or perhaps just Saturday night with.
Living in a world which could’ve had flying cars, we are pretty digital, to say the least. Especially, after the ill-fated virus knocked on our doors. We obviously had to change gears and get on the “new normal” track. Everything was online—academics, work, Ludo and dating but now we were glued to our screens a lot more. Gen z got a way to put themselves out there even more, from the comforts of their home- through dating apps. But with that came the nightmare of catfishing, cyberbullying, getting threatened for their sexual orientation to be exposed and blatant identity thefts (most definitely not a joke, Jim).
There are a plethora of dating apps and many have failed to make their platform a safe space for people of the LGBTQ community. There has been an onslaught of hate and bigotry for people deemed different. In fact, there have been flagrant displays of unseemly behaviour targeting LGBTQ people for even trying to find love on dating apps. The onus to make these applications safe falls on the companies running them. Features that seem like lip service or mere marketing gimmicks to push downloads should be done away with and instead care should be taken to make the app friendly to everyone who chooses to be on it, regardless of their orientation.
There’s no hiding from the fact that dating apps for everyone is the ninth circle of hell and then you add, getting duped by some teen who thinks it’s funny to threaten someone to out their sexuality in their school/ college and to make them feel like a social pariah. Give me a break.
Times have changed, I have enough confidence to say that this generation is extremely mindful about certain issues and forcing someone to come out by scamming them on a dating app doesn’t suit them. But even now, LGBTQ teens and adults ask their trusted confidantes to set them up, surreptitiously, rather than joining an app, only because the algorithm just doesn’t work for them.
Why does this happen? As a consequence of limitations and restrictions on the gender identity options in these apps among many other hate crime-related reasons. Most of these apps were designed for straight people, but LGBTQ communities in India, especially need a better and stronger verification mechanism.
A person goes on a dating app, not just for social interaction or a hookup, they also want to figure out what they want. But for LGBTQ teens, it becomes increasingly difficult when the algorithm is superficial and pretty dull in helping them find matches. Moreover, some teens who are not out yet should have an option to remain anonymous for their own security and well being. There are times when some areas or a potential match is suspicious, it is the app’s tech’s responsibility to have an alert feature for them.
Legally, Section 377 changed a lot of factors—queer people can express themselves freely, be who they truly are and are finding themselves, liberally. But it’s essential for us to acknowledge that socially, things are growing slowly. There are a lot of stigmas attached to the community which might be difficult to eliminate. Keeping that in mind, the apps should be built in a way with suggests matches which they would like and not make it a difficult process since some people can be really cruel, online.
Maybe it’s high time for dating apps to step up and put together a feature which helps the teen find themselves and love, who is only exploring rather than instil fear by matching them with someone who is clearly there for fun or ruining someone’s life. No, it’s not difficult for these wiz techs who create the app to figure out their wants and needs rather than making it seem like they have to swipe and match with the next homosexual in the area. If the whole concept of swiping helps the algorithm to realize the person’s types and desirability then why can’t it pertain to the LGBTQ public.
Gen z wants authenticity and transparency rather than a hush-hush affair on finding love- it’s time for dating apps to up their games in terms of the queer community. Plus, Love is love and it’s for everyone.
But here’s a list of applications for the LGBTQ community which are safe and open, for everyone, and doing it the right way!
Tinder’s ‘More Choices, more voices’ feature brought in 23 new options in the gender category
OkCupid has an “I don’t want to see or be seen by straight people” option.