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Finding ~a match~ isn’t a walk in the park for anyone. But queer dating has the additional hurdles of having come out to someone (ugh) and decipher whether they play for your team (double ugh). That’s where queer and lesbian dating apps come in, and thankfully, there are more available to download than ever.
“Online dating has given the queer community the opportunity to date and flirt, without the risks of having to come out to someone who’s potential dangerous,” says Sarah Sloane, a sex educator who’s been coaching queer sex classes at Good Vibrations and Pleasure Chest since 2001. (Related: What It’s Really Like To Come Out, According To 4 Women)
Plus, she says, lesbian dating apps give queer folks a way to make other queer friends without having to jet off to cities with big queer community. (Trust the writer: I met my last three girlfriends and two of my closest queer friends on dating apps! I’m a big fan.) So, give yourself a pep-talk, blast some Hayley Kiyoko or Janelle Monáe, and download one of the best dating apps for lesbians and queer folks. At the very least, maybe you’ll make a friend who ~gets you~ in a way your other besties don’t.
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Lex, which officially launched in November 2019, originally lived on Instagram (now @Lex.app). Inspired by text-first, picture-second (or never!) approach of old-school newspaper personal ads, Lex allows users to define themselves using whatever lingo feels best for them. Goodbye, limited pre-set options, a huge win for trans and non-binary daters.
IRL review: “There are tons of trans lesbians on it already,” says Ana, 26, Brooklyn. “And the cis women and non-binary lesbian folks that use it are also very respectful, kind, and fun to chat with. I can’t think of one bad experience yet.”
With the tagline, “here to connect womxn and queer people,” Her is inclusive and intentional. Plus, it features a calendar of the upcoming LGBTQ+ events in your area (kinda like MeetUp).
IRL review: “I downloaded the app because of their dope advertisements, but I stayed for the queer event calendar,” says Chelsea, 28, San Diego, CA.
For straight folks, the draw of Bumble is that the woman has to make the first move. Well, surprise: When there are two women, either of you can make the first move!
The difference between Bumble and any other app then? Because one of you *needs* to make a move within the first 24 hours of matching, or the match disappears forever, Bumble is only for serious daters—not those who just swipe on Sunday nights, then forget all about it by Monday morning.
IRL review: Bonnie, a 29-year-old living in Houston, loves the quick turnaround time. “I can swipe on Monday, match by Tuesday, and set a date or three by Friday. It’s great for my instant-gratification-loving self,” she says.
Sick of swiping on randos? Try Hinge, which only populates your scroll with friends and people your friends can vouch for. And rather than forcing you to pull a bio out of thin air, Hinge gives you prompts like, “I won’t shut up about….” and “I’m overly competitive about….”. Cute, right?
IRL review: “The blurbs give you a better sense of who someone is than just photos do,” says CT, 24.
Yep, the app that started it all really is for everyone. In fact, last summer, for Pride, Tinder launched an Orientation feature in partnership with GLAAD, which allows daters to pick up to three terms to describe their sexuality.
IRL review: “It’s the app I’ve had the most success with because it’s the most common dating app for queers,” says Mimi, 23, Chicago. That’s also why Caroline, a 24-year-old living in Dallas, uses it whenever she’s on business trips. “Because there are so many users everywhere, it’s a great way to get a temperature check of a city’s queer community.” Just be warned: Because everyone is on it, you’ll definitely swipe past your ex and ex’s ex.
As in Ivy League… get it? Rather than forcing you to think up some cutesy blurb, this app pulls info straight from your LinkedIn profile (seriously) to prove you’re not a CatFish. Only those deemed worthy by League Headquarters are granted access into the Leagues exclusive dating pool.
IRL review: Personally, the whole thing gives me college application flashbacks, but Frances, a 27-year-old living in Boston, had some success. “I won’t lie, it’s the most pretentious, most boogie app out there, but it’s where I met my girlfriend, so I can’t help but stand.” Fair.
One of the OG dating platforms, OKCupid forces you to answer hard-hitting questions like “Should the government defund Planned Parenthood” or “Is astrological sign at all important in a match?” Shallow swipers need not apply.
IRL review: “OKCupid is where I met my wife nine years ago when apps were just starting to be a thing,” says Terry, a 43-year-old living in New York City. “And it’s where most of my lesbian buddies in my age group met their partners, too.” Her take: OkCupid is especially great for the 35+ crowd. Though, according to Elliot, a 23-year-old living in New York City, OKCupid also has traction in the younger crowd. “With zero pressure to pick pronouns, and a bunch of gender and sexuality identities to choose from, I actually think it’s making a resurgence.” You heard it here first!
Calling all polyam and non-monogamous babes: Hashtag Open lets you join solo, partnered, or both. Whether you’ve already got a Boo and are looking for Boo 2 or want some romance with a couple, this app is here to help.
IRL review: It’s not *just* for queer users, but Maile, a 30-year-old from Hartford, CT calls it “pretty and wonderfully queer.” Also important: “As somebody who’s been married to a man for five years and recently opened my relationship, Hashtag Open has been the least overwhelming, most accepting app I’ve tried.” Quite the recommendation, no?
Who hasn’t responded to an IG story with a flame and called it flirting or slid into the DMs of a former high school crush? With more out queer folks plopping rainbow emojis right in their bios, there’s no denying Instagram doubles as a dating app.
Insider tip: Once a month (ish) gay sexologist Molly Margaret (@whatswrongwithmollymargaret) hosts a queer mixer through her IG stories. Here’s how it works: At her request, send her your fave photo of yourself and a short bio. She’ll post it on her story for her over 80K followers. If (nay, when) someone likes what they see, they’ll slide right into your DMs. Modern love!
IRL review: “I participated in MM’s queer mixer back in April and found one person to sext and someone to do a two-person book club with,” says Carolyn, 20, Minnesota.
Speaking of followers-turned-lovers, there are plenty of single-and-ready-to-mingle queers on Twitter.
IRL review: “Because Twitter isn’t *actually* a dating app, there’s less pressure on flirtationships to go anywhere” says Ana, 26, Brooklyn. “It’s easier to go with the flow and keep things organic, plus people tend to let their guard down a little more because they’re not trying to make a good first impression for their future babe.” RT today, ring tomorrow.
If Kinkoo’s name didn’t tip you off, Kinkoo is an app for kinky folks that requires you to list your kinks, level of kinkperiance, and type of connection you’re looking for right from the get-go. Meaning, you don’t have to worry about awkward disclosure questions.
IRL review: “Is it the most queer-inclusive app I’ve ever been on? No,” Mandy*, 28, says. “But it makes it easier to know that I’m swiping on people who are more likely to want to accompany me to play parties.”*Name has been changed
Previously known as 3ender (as in Tinder +threesome), Feeld is an app specifically made for folks looking to find thirds (or fourths). You can set up a profile as a Singleton or a Couple, then get swiping. Best part: There’s an incognito mode that hides your profile from any Facebook friends. #Blessed.
IRL review: Melissa, a 29-year-old living in New York City, says this is the best option for queer women (and couples) looking for threesomes, groupsex, or a long-term triad. Just one downside: “There are more men on the app with their girlfriends than I’d like.”
Fem is for women who love TikTok. Despite its name, being “femme”-presenting isn’t a prerequisite for this app— all gender presentations are welcome. But video is a must.
IRL review: “I’m into the visual element of the app,” says Allison, 26, Queens. “It’s way easier to get a sense of who someone is with vids than photos. And thanks to the group chat option, I’ve actually made a few pals, too.”
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