I Seek, You Seek, SheSeek: Esther Zinn and her Girl-on-Girl Culture App

Esther Zinn is an app extraordinaire and freelance media professional who grew tired of googling for hours on end to find the queer events in every city she visited. So rather than doing what the rest of us might do (complaining toesther our friends while knitting in our favorite queer vegan coffee shop), she decided to make her own iPhone app to solve the problem (that way, we can have favorite queer vegan coffee shops in up to 25 major cities!). I caught up with Esther to ask about this new app magic, SheSeek. She had some fun tales to tell, from creative endeavors fueled by popcorn, to lesbian bars rated with gold stars to her motivation behind developing SheSeek (I’ll give you a hint: Esther is really big on building both local and national communities).

Can you tell me a little bit about what SheSeek does? How does it work?

SheSeek is a location-based app for LGBT-identified ladies which allows them to find the nearest clubs, bars, and fun events near to them in 25 major cities. It’ll also have daily news and pop culture articles that are delivered directly to their smartphone, which makes it easy to find something to check out and stay connected to current events.

What was your inspiration to make SheSeek?

So last year I went on a trip with some friends to Miami. Despite a rigorous Googling, I couldn’t seem to find any lesbian bars or club nights, so I found myself just walking through South Beach and asking people at places identifiable only with tiny rainbow flags in the window where the good places to go were. This happened again when I traveled to New Orleans and quickly found that all of the women’s bars listed in the guidebook I’d brought with me had closed down years ago, so I had to ask people on Bourbon Street where the events for women were. It felt like I was in the prohibition or something and I kept wondering, why isn’t there an easier and faster way to find events for women in other major cities? I remembered that when I came out 12 years ago, it was difficult to find out where to go unless you knew someone in the community, and it seemed a little silly that with the Internet and social media it isn’t easier. I thought it would be so much easier, with the technology we have now, to just turn on your phone, touch an app and figure out where to go, rather than googling things for hours or having to ask people. And then I began to think about how I subscribe to a a few newspapers and magazines digitally, how convenient it is to get news sent directly to my phone, and wouldn’t this be great if a resource like this could be available to queer women, too? I thought that a resource that would keep people effortlessly connected not only to their local communities, but to the national LGBT community as a whole on a device that they always have with them would be a great way to cooperate, stay united and work towards gaining equal rights.

sheseek screenshot 1What’s your favorite feature of your new app?

The other developers of SheSeek and I had a good laugh at some of the features over many brainstorming sessions (fueled by cupcakes and popcorn, of course.) If you search for something in your city that isn’t currently there (like, say, a ladies night on a Tuesday) it will take you to an error screen that shows a confused man in his underwear saying, “Oops. We couldn’t find what you were looking for!” Also, we had to come up with a system that shows users if a place is a lesbian bar all of the time, on certain nights, or if it’s just an awesome place to check out, so we used a star system—lesbian bars are, of course, marked as gold stars.

Also, I spent about two months researching places to go in the top 25 cities that have the highest LGBT populations, and I tried to include places that help bolster community in places like, say, the southern states. I included places like local PFLAG chapters, to help LGBT-identified people who might be afraid to come out to their family or friends, and other places that host city or state-themed equality campaigns. I also included places like tasty vegan restaurants, or cute, queer-friendly places to take a date. Basically, I am really excited about the potential for the app to be used not only as a way to find out where the latest party is, but to help strengthen communities locally…because if we can work on building our communities, educating our friends and family, and staying informed, it will make gaining equality that much easier for us!

Fill in the blank: if you found out _______ was using your app, you’d squee.

Oh my God. I would die if I found out Lady Gaga was using my app, because I find 90% of her sex appeal is in her ability to be a unique innovator, and that’s inspiring. Or Mila Kunis…my girlfriend is the hottest girl ever to me, but after her, I would say Mila is the second hottest.sheseek screenshot 4

On which platforms is SheSeek available?

Right now, the SheSeek app is only available for iPhone users, but if you have an Android, fear not! All of the same functionality (events listings, articles) will be available on Android phones via the official website.

What does the future of SheSeek look like? Anything you’re hoping to add?

I know people have been asking for a very long time for a lesbian Grindr. Depending on how many people download this version of SheSeek, I am absolutely willing to consider developing something similar: a location-based feature that provides a way to “find and meet new friends.” What other people define as “friends” will be up to them.

Tell me why Autostraddle readers will love SheSeek?

I’ve worked hard on making SheSeek really efficient, easy-to-use, and with a trendy look (because it’s clear that Autostraddle readers love good design!) This will definitely not be yet another lesbian website that looks like it’s a geocities page.

Is there a cost for all this magical appy goodness?

SheSeek is absolutely free! Enjoy.

 


 

Really like the idea of SheSeek? Isn’t Esther awesome/sexy/really smart? I was so intrigued by Esther’s interview that I went out and downloaded SheSeek – you guys, it’s beautiful! She wasn’t fucking around when she said it’s not another Geocities page-esque website. I’m big on user interface, and the app and website are both smooth and lovely. I live in New York City and the app recommended Bluestockings, a bookstore that I’m absolutely in love with! This app has good taste, if I do say so myself.

When I went to check out the cities offered, I was surprised/not at all surprised/really ecstatic to find Asbury Park on there, being a Jersey Girl by origin. You can also find bars and events in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, Tucson and Washington D.C. Basically what I’m saying is that I am super impressed by the scope of this. Some of the spaces are missing photos that you probably happen to have – if you have a photo of one of the recommended spots, just email editor@sheseekonline.com. In fact, Esther says that if you have a recommendation for a venue or event, you can email it to there as well.

Everyone ready? App downloaded? Website visited? Well then, let’s go seek some she.


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Geekery Editor for Autostraddle, Part-time Faculty at The New School (teaching digital storytelling), Managing Editor for Scholar & Feminist Online at Barnard Center for Research On Women. Follow me on Twitter @AEOsworth or on Instagram, also @AEOsworth.

Ali has written 479 articles for us.

56 Comments

  1. 0

    As someone who relies a bit too heavily on OKC while navigating new cities to mixed results, I will likely use the heck out of this. Downloading now!

  2. 0

    I really hope this extends to other cities eventually, too, because Louisville is the 31st most populous city, so I think we basically just missed the cut, AND it is seemingly a lesbidesert here (unless you’re over 40). And also this app is the tits (and, HEY-O! It helps you find tits).

    • 0

      That is hilarious!!! I will definitely put Louisville into consideration, I’ve also had requests to do Provincetown…if you have any ideas of where to go, please send them along! 🙂

    • 0

      Louisville is a rough town to find she/she action (unless you’ve already known them for 10 years and know every single lover they’ve had). There’s not even a proper lesbian bar, unless you count “Purrsuasions”, a cheesy little dive =/. The Monkey Wrench has a lesbian DJ (DJ Fabi) on some Saturdays, the Connection is a gay bar where lesbians occasionally go, Big Bar is great new gay bar where lesbians also hang out…otherwise it’s pretty sparse down here.

      • 0

        Yeah, and still those places are mostly gay guy hangouts (Monkey Wrench is good but I kind of thought the crowd skewed to the older set, I haven’t been to Purrsuasions, but with that spelling of that name, I’M SOLD). The best thing I’ve found is Mag Bar on Wednesdays. It’s their unofficial gay night.

  3. 0

    It would be wonderful if this could open up to any/all cities, especially if it goes lady grindr. Maybe submission and review based for the directory info?

  4. 0

    This is. Great! Just wish there was more content for Minneapolis. Maybe extend it to Mpls/st Paul, we’re the twin cities for a reason 🙂

  5. 0

    This is a great resource! I’m hoping to check back in a little while and magically Orange County will have some spots. LA is a good start though. Thanks for the scoop! Ariel: I do hope it “goes lady grindr” 🙂

  6. 0

    I have a giant mental “should I get a smartphone” pro/con list and I think this just tipped it prettttty solidly into the pro column. Thank you, Esther!

  7. 0

    This seems cool! Here’s hoping they get the events page going by NYE. I’m in DC for a couple weeks and I need to know whats going on, at least on the last night of the year, if not the weekend before too. Hopefully I can convince my mostly straight friends to go to a lesbian/gay bar this year since we hit a ton of straight clubs last time I was in the area. One is in the process of coming out so maybe we have a chance this time around! Some of the other cities seem a little lacking too, but overall good considering it’s such a new app!

    • 0

      Hi Yipee! I was updated events to include “Solid Gold” at Phase 1 (apparently they’ve been the hottest women’s NYE party in town for 43 years) but if you hear of anything else, please let me know! 🙂

  8. 0

    YES…YES…OH FUCK YES–YESYESYESSSSSSSS!!!!!

    and back to breathing…

    i needed that.

    p.s. i live in new orleans and was super bummed to hear about esther’s difficulties here. i know we all try our best (like, if you call our lgbt community center there is a fairly up-to-date queer women’s resource guide for the area and, of course, autostraddle’s guide), but i so agree with her that there is no reason for us not to use our collective knowledge and be smart with our smartphones. problem, of course, will be the same as it is with actually finding anything in any city– finding sheseek. it won’t work unless we make it work. the only reason info is out-of-date or hard to find anywhere is because we (the local communities) don’t always think or remember to put it out there for people outside our community. new orleans is a tourism-driven city, this holds true for our queer women’s events too, of which there are loads. and you could easily find them if you asked someone here, as i’m sure you could anywhere. you just have to know who to ask. and that’s the only issue sheseek may run into– it may be a fancy app but it is still run by people and those people have to know where to ask or people in the cities have to remember to shout it out.

    • 0

      Hi Shaun!

      I loved my trip out to New Orleans and still had a great time (at Cafe du Monde and the Museum of Voodoo) so you just reminded me to include those two there. 🙂

      I also think I may have received an email from you about covering some places, and I would love to talk about that more because I would really appreciate the help in figuring out some extra stuff to put in there. New Orleans was an awesome town and I would love to go back there soon (and hopefully take my girlfriend, because she loves vampires and the city has so much great vampire lore, haha.)

    • 0

      Oh Hai fellow NOLA-straddler.

      I agree, we’ve got some great stuff around here. Hell, I’ve lived in New Orleans my entire life and I’m pretty sure there are some things I am absolutely clueless on when it comes to the events going on in the lady-loving community. Friendly’s, St. Roch’s Tavern, Lost Love Lounge, and Mimi’s (the tapas alone is worth the trip to Mimi’s) were definitely missing on that list. I think with a little bit of a collaborative effort that app can do some great things in NOLA.

  9. 0

    This looks cool… I wish the name of the app was maybe more inclusive of dykey queers who don’t fall under the pronoun “She”, because there’s lots of us out there who wanna get our queer event finding on.

  10. 0

    Obviously you’ve never heard of Girlpages Network there are 1,000 of LESBIAN events monthly divided by region. 40,000-50,000 visitors a month. Facebook girlpagesnetwork and Girlpagesnetwork.com Good luck!

  11. 0

    This sounds great! Because I’m in Tucson and have been going to school here for two years without finding much in the way of queer places, I downloaded this halfway through the article. Unfortunately, the only thing listed was our community center 🙁 Not even our lesbian/feminist/liberal bookstore. (I did go ahead and submit that one.) hopefully more stuff for my city comes around.

    • 0

      Hey Casper! Thanks for sending in the info on that bookstore! I really needed help with the Tuscon region because it seems the lesbian bar that used to be there closed some time ago. I will put that in the next time we do updates. 🙂

      • 0

        Oops, I accidentally just put your name in the name field, so it looks like you’re responding to yourself, haha. 🙂

  12. 0

    Fuck yes!

    I’m literally downloading the new iOS just so I can download this app!! I live in Providence but I’m so excited to try it out this week in NYC!

    • 0

      Yeah I wonder if there just needs to be added more to certain cities and they’re still working on it? Because I was really surprised to see so few things in Boston, too, including nothing in Cambridge or Somerville. Maybe it’s just because it’s the holidays and there aren’t many nightlife types of events going on while everyone’s home with families? Anyway PLEASE ADD MORE BOSTON SITES but otherwise great! I would have loved to have had this when I was at a conference in NOLA a couple of months ago!

      • 0

        Thanks Rose! I had a lot of trouble finding stuff for Boston, so if anyone knows of more stuff other than Machine and ZuZu, please let me know!

  13. 0

    Damn, this is the first time I’ve wanted to trade my samsung galaxy for an iphone.
    This is really a much needed app and your efforts are truly appreciated.

    YOU ARE A PIONEER.

    • 0

      Thank you, Ashley. It’s been a LOT of work to build and maintain this app and website, and reading your comment was a great source of encouragement. 🙂

    • 0

      Hey there! Yes, venues for the boroughs will be added very soon. I’ve been bogged down a little bit with the holidays/an inconvenient cold, but I’m catching up and will have those on there shortly. 🙂

  14. 0

    Please please please lady-loving equivalent of Grindr! It’s tough out here in the west!

    I know that people think the lesbians can’t handle it, as they would just pack up their u-haul at first sight, but I promise, it’d be great just to know there are other queer-girls around.

  15. 0

    Please add Baltimore (I mostly only know the gay dude nightlife there since that’s who my friends were in college, and I still go back sometimes to see family) and Detroit/Ann Arbor!

    Otherwise it’s awesome! I just moved to Boston and I’ve been trying to figure out where to meet other girls who like girls.

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