Tech Your Queer: Gaying Up Tinder And Other Things About Online Dating


Well queermos, it is time. It is time to talk about dating applications. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve talked a ton about various applications—She-Seek, for example. Or Tinder! Or Dattch! Or how about the entire series on OK Cupid? But technology is fast and different dating applications are springing up like crazy. Some are just for the queers, some aren’t. But those of us who are single are duty bound to at least try them all. But whhyyyy, you ask from your perch on your couch with your tofutti in hand and Netflix on your screen. I’m glad you asked—

Reasons Us Queermos Should Use Online Dating Apps

1. Sheer numbers. The reason dating apps work so well in cities is because of the sheer number of people using them. The reason Tinder shows us straight people (sometimes—and we’ll talk a bit about this later) might be because there aren’t enough queer ones nearby. Let’s change that! We deserve just as much as anyone else out there to take up space in these applications, even when they aren’t made specifically for our community. The more queermos we’ve got using the app, the more useful the app will be to us queermos. The more of our community that shows up, the more power we have to change the ways the apps are perceived and used—that means we can use these platforms to connect with our communities when it might be difficult to find our community entirely in meat-space.

2. To support apps that have us in mind. Using apps that are made for the lesbian/queer communities is just as important as using the ones that are made for everyone. When we use something made for us, we ensure its continued existence. We also signal to other people who might create something that the territory is active and that the effort and investment wouldn’t be wasted. Supporting apps like Dattch and Wing Ma’am is a great example of supporting apps that support us. And because we’ve done (and will continue to do) that, the ultra-queer Thurst is making its bid for funding because they know the market exists.

 3. Sometimes they “work!” I put the term “work” in quotes because whether or not a dating app works for you is super subjective and is linked not at all to whether or not you have sex or a relationship or anything. These apps mean different things to different people. But in case you’re using the term “work” in a more traditional sense, I met my fiancée on OK Cupid.

4. And even when they don’t, you’re still out there meeting new people. Again, success looks different for different people. But even if you have an experience you deem a “fail,” there’s almost always something in it for you regardless. For a more in-depth discussion of this, here’s a piece from our Oh Gay Cupid series.

5. Because our spaces are disappearing. So perhaps the prevalence of online dating is contributing to the dearth of girl bars or lezzie parties, who can actually say? Perhaps it’s something entirely different. Regardless, our physical spaces are disappearing and creating new physical spaces for our community is sometimes cost or location prohibitive. Creating a queer online space using a free dating app, however, is…well…free (for the users of the app, at least). Making OKC, Tinder or Dattch into our online fantasy queer bar is our Lesbian Jesus-granted right. And while the state of the gay bar may be dismal, that doesn’t mean our dating or networking opportunities have to go the same way.

6. To submit to Swipe Right: Queers Appreciate Tinder. While this zine isn’t affiliated with Autostraddle, you might find some familiar faces editing—Anna Bongiovanni and Vanessa Friedman. And they’re looking for your contributions, funny or serious, visual or text-based, Tinder-positive or Tinder-negative (or related to all sorts of other online dating apps) to fill the pages of their latest project. Check out the Facebook page or Anna’s website for more details and submission ideas! The deadline is March 15, so y’all have got PLENTY of time to amass some wonderful (and terrible) Tinder experiences.

swipe right2

Tinder Tips

So now that I’ve convinced you to jump feet first into online dating (supposing of course that you haven’t already), how do we make apps like Tinder work for us. I sat down with Anna Bongiovanni, co-editor of Swipe Right, cartoonist behind Grease Bats here on Autostraddle and self-identifying Tinder-lover to talk tips and tricks. In their own words, here’s a few of their best practices to try:

  • If someone even seems remotely interesting, probably you should wipe right and give it a go.
  • Attempt to move the conversation offline and in person sooner than later. Or at LEAST exchange numbers and move it to text.
  • Don’t assume someone is straight, because you wouldn’t want someone assuming that about you. No policing!
  • Probably you should use that little space to write a sentence. I respond best to things that are interesting/funny. Notsomuch inspirational quotes or gibberish.
  • If you are traveling, Tinder IS THE BEST. I’ve gotten lots of last minute dates this way! Also, even if I can’t go out with the people I match up with, I can ask them where the queer hotspot is for the night!
  • People get burnt out on Tinder saying there’s no one new. Which is true! Our dating pool is small! We go out a lot and exhaust the dating scene! We are friends with all the queers in our neighborhood! My best advice would be to keep checking back. (Editors note: especially after reading this post—someone new may be trying Tinder RIGHT NOW). Who knows. Maybe it’ll keep being empty, but sometimes new people show up! I don’t understand the algorithim that makes this happen.

Still not sure which apps to dance with? Well, gentlequeers, I give you—

Every Single Article I Could Find On Autostraddle About Dating Online, Organized By App

OK Cupid

Oh Gay Cupid! No, This is How You Take A Holiday Profile Pic

Oh Gay Cupid! True Life: I’m an Equal Opportunity Makeout Artist

Oh Gay Cupid! Turning Dating Fails Into Life Wins

Oh Gay Cupid! You Met Online, And That’s OK

Oh Gay Cupid! Profiles Are the Window to the Soul, Or Something

Oh Gay Cupid! 21 Signs Your OkCupid Date Isn’t Going Well

OKCupid: We Read Your Profile

Pro-tip: you can filter for people who have an interest in Autostraddle.


Dattch: New Lady-Dating App That Could Change Everything Launches in US

Wing Ma’am

Find Yourself a Wing Ma’am


Everybody F*cking Hates Tinder And We Are All Going To Die Alone

Saturday Morning Cartoons: Swipe Right

And Other Theory/Roundups/Miscellany

Lesbians Wonder Why We Don’t Have Our Own Grindr, Must Settle For Words With Friends

New App Helps Overthinkers Get A Date

Reach Othrs on Your Phone: Why I Have a Screen of Gay Lady Dating Apps

Did I miss any? What are your best practices for Tinder? For other dating apps? Do you completely disagree with me? Do you have your own reasons for hitting the online datosphere that weren’t mentioned? Do you have feelings at all about this topic? Please tell us in the comments below!

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. I’m not saying Autostraddle should make a dating app…

    …But Autostraddle should totally make a dating app.

  2. Apparently there’s some new app in development that matches people up by astrological sign. It’s not explicitly for queers, but it’s not exclusively for male/female match-ups either, which is good because you know who’s going to make up 90% of their user base within like five minutes of launching.

  3. I think the advice of moving the conversation to in person as soon as possible is pretty good!
    I’ll usually just keep the conversation to online for forever… lol

  4. Tinder is so great if you’re travelling!

    Here in Buenos Aires, for examples there… just aren’t queers on OKC. Or the queers that are on OKC are kinda creepy, tbh. There’s hella cuties on tinder, though.

    • Thanks for the tip! When I was in Italy I gave up on finding a lesbian bar (spaces disappearing and whatnot) but I didn’t even think of tinder as a way to meet people!

    • Yes, I have tried it, but I think it’s kinda new. Hoping to really play with it when I am in SFO next week and there are more lezzies on it! :)

      • Let me just say that I have a horrible memory, but I DO recall reading about it here?Because honestly I wouldn’t have known of it otherwise?

        But yeah, it’s real. You can get it via the app store. I just did.

    • Tried to sign up but I guess it didn’t think my Facebook was gay enough to verify me…since I am one of the most publicly gay people on the planet I worry a bit about their programming…

      • @qpdx ME TOO! I think it is because I am listed as genderqueer, not a man or woman, and this app was made before that was an option maybe? So it can’t cope with it and wont let you sign up. That’s my guess.

      • Argh. That’s annoying. I just installed the app with no problems at all, so maybe what Anna said below might be the reason?

  5. this almost makes me want to try online dating again. I swore a solemn oath to myself that I wouldn’t til I move out of this tiny dumb town I live in, though.

    • Brenda works. I haven’t tried it but my partner has and it seems kind of dead but she did exchange a few messages.

      • Thanks! I made an account – there’s a couple of cute girls on there. But I wish it was as popular with girls as grindr is with boys :P

      • Thanks! I made the mistake of saying I was interested in men and women – oh my god men are so gross. I just changed it to women and it’s going much better, except for the straight girls looking for friendship lol.

  6. For those who live in Nordic countries (and maybe also Germany?) there is, of course, Qruiser. The website looks like it hasn’t been redesigned since 2001, but when I was single I found that it was really easy to meet people through it.

  7. GUYS I found a really cute human (are you here, reading this, cutie?) using the autostraddle keyword search tip on okc –thank you Ali–but she lives a billion miles away. Problems. :(

  8. So…hot tips for the like two of us who don’t have smartphones? (Besides okc. Which is a website also. Praise his noodly appendage, and BY THE WAY can we have a brief moment to roll our eyes SO HARD at the patriarchy that EVEN A PILE OF SENTIENT NOODLES is default-male? Quelle bullshite.)

    • Yes please! (The other smartphone-less human here). If everyone is apparently getting off OkCupid and switching to Tinder, is my best plan to just go ahead and embrace the hermit lifestyle?

  9. Being bi, I see all sides of Tinder. And I gotta say, most guys’ profiles on there are just so, so bad. So much douchiness. So many tigers. So little cuteness.

    • Seriously what is with all the drugged up tigers? Is that supposed to impress me? Why do so many people even HAVE these photos?

      Between that and the super douchey looking gym selfies does anybody ever look at these and think ‘yes, this looks like someone I would want to date?’

  10. Problem with Tinder for some is the fact it sees things in the binary(and diverts the question when I suggest it to them). So, for a genderqueer, agender, non-binary, genderfluid, and anyone who doesn’t identify as male, and/or female, it doesn’t work well as we are forced to choose a gender. In my case most don’t read my profile where I make it clear i’m genderqueer so I get mistaken for male).

    I dunno of OKC fixed it or not, but I choose queer as my sexuality, an trans* and genderqueer as my gender, but it didn’t give me the option to not see straight people, and it required me to choose, which gender I want to be grouped with. I want to be grouped with the non-binary/genderqueer trans people, because that is who I am.

    • I had that issue with OKCupid too. Why are you grouping me with one binary gender or the other???

      Also, how has Tinder worked for you being genderqueer? I’ve been hesitant to try it because of being forced to choose a gender I’m not and I’m wondering what others’ experiences have been like/if it’s worth it despite that (and also it seems like a lot of people use Tinder for hookups, which fine for them but that’s a massively Do Not Want for me, so I have some skepticism there too).

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