Online dating sites and applications have become very much the norm in our society. They have become our go-to buddy when looking for our next big romantic conquest (especially nowadays). Whether we are sitting on the sofa waiting for our favourite TV show to come on, on the commute to work, having a coffee break, or even while having a drink with a couple of mates, it doesn't take much to find your type of dating platform. Technological advancement has been integrated in the form of tools in a lot of dating sites - and you know what that means...! You're now only surrounded by the people YOU want to meet!
For the LGBTQ community, utilising dating sites and apps has made it easier to meet like minded individuals. It takes away that fear of having to walk up to someone in a bar when unsure of their sexual orientation or preferences, and with gay bars and nightclubs becoming more 'hetero-friendly' you can sometimes wonder if the right ideas is to make the first move!
So what kinds of dating sites are people using at the moment, and are they the right ones for you?
One of the UK's most well known and popular dating websites is match.com, with research showing that 1 in 5 people in the UK know a couple who have met through the website! They're seen as the serious version of online dating, using algorithms to find your best suited partner.
The free version provides a rather basic and limited functionality, however it can give you a glimpse, so you can decide whether you would want to upgrade to one of their monthly plans. They have now created their app which is available to download - though our top tip for you is setting up your dating profile using a desktop to maintain great quality of profile pictures, then use the app once set up is completed.
Based on their testimonials, it’s evident that love, happiness and even marriage is possible!
Plenty of Fish
Not one to shy away, PlentyofFish (or POF as otherwise known) is one of the alternative dating sites that doesn't break the bank balance. They offer a free messaging system, meaning you don't need to match or subscribe to start your journey. With their slogan 'Dating for Grown ups', and their easy-to-use interface, it's no wonder they have over 3 million active users.
Keeping up with the inclusivity of LGBTQ members, POF wants you to feel safe and comfortable expressing your gender identity and includes the gender options of male, female, cis male, cis female, trans man, trans woman and non-binary. You also have the control of whether you want this information public and visible on your profile.
Elite Singles Lesbian Dating
There are many dating websites that match you with another member purely based on the fact you are both searching for a particular gender. One company that stands out is Elite Singles Lesbian Dating, who pride themselves in their personality questionnaire, along with your individual search preferences they take their matching criteria one step further to find you the perfect match for a long term relationship. They're clearly doing something right, as they have 30,000 new members registering every month looking for same sex relationships.
The free membership unfortunately offers very basic and limited functions, with messaging not being included, though you will receive partner suggestions daily and can upload pictures and send 'smiles' and 'likes' to other members on the platform. With an upgraded premium membership, you can send and receive unlimited messages and also comment on pictures, while also being able to see who has been checking you out.
No list of LGBTQ dating sites would be complete without the infamous Grindr. Although only available to download as a mobile app for your phone, the concept is still the same – dating and connecting with those who are closest to you geographically (though there is now the option of spreading your wings and seeing who is around in other areas around the world).
After many comments and requests for change, Grindr has been working harder on its inclusivity in recent years, including an identity section on member profiles. Users can fill out their gender identity or select from a drop-down menu, and the app also allows them to select the pronouns that they prefer to be referred to, aiding in communication between members. They also allow you to keep that information private, so you can discuss it when you feel ready to.
Although Grindr does offer more than one package with different features and benefits (unlimited profile search, incognito mode, read receipts and additional filtering options) their free package includes unlimited text and photo messaging, so that the availability to connect with someone is in your control 24/7.
These dating sites (and many more!) are not just an aid to find a partner, but can also be used for friendship, conversations, finding out information, events and brief encounters.
Dating is not the only thing to be done online for the LGBTQ+ Community
While online dating sites are a means to find a relationship, these platforms have become a fundamental part of social interaction for the LGBTQ collective, providing a massive help to those who have recently come out of the closet to converse with others in the same situation. This is just one situation. For those who do not know anyone with the same gender identity or sexual preferences, it can be quite a lonely time. For many, having any sort of engagement with like minded individuals was something out of reach, with no one to bounce ideas off of, express their feelings or generally just be themselves.
When you think of how it was only 30 years ago, LGBTQ were a collective that were in the shadows. Websites and applications did not cater to the wider community, mainly being aimed at the straight cis male and female. LGBTQ dating sites and applications can now be looked at as a support network, and strong bonds can be formed.
Times are changing, websites are listening to the voices of the LGBTQ community and are making an effort to become more inclusive. It's not just up to the dating companies to make sure inclusivity is adhered to and taken seriously – we all have our part to play.
So regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity, remember to be kind, courteous, respectful, and accepting of others.
We're all looking for love, after all!