Sick of harassment, gender restrictions, and too many men? Start here.
For a long time, online dating was a club for straight people. Sites like Match.com and eHarmony, whose co-founder is notoriously homophobic, had historically excluded LGBTQ communities. Even as new apps revolutionized the online dating world, queer folks were finding that these apps had little to offer in terms of inclusivity, acceptance, and creating space for people with a wide variety of genders and sexualities. Where were the gay, queer, and lesbian dating apps that catered to everyone?
While dating apps may still have a long way to go before they’re completely able to cater to the diverse needs of LGBTQ folks, many queer-only apps are beginning to gain attention—and many existing apps are emerging with better queer-friendly features—thereby giving everyone a chance to find love and community. It’s time to start swiping!
The best queer and lesbian dating apps
Her is an award-winning app specifically created for queer, bisexual, and lesbian women that combines dating with an event feature so you can find love and a queer beach party. Though Her uses the same swiping feature we’ve all come to love and hate, profiles on the primarily lesbian dating app offer much more room for users to talk about themselves. You can add photos, multiple text boxes, your gender identity, sexual orientation, relationship status, and more.
Her also lets users “heart” each other or add each other as friends, and once two people match, the app will send you both a question in a chat box to get the conversation going. Icebreakers include things like “Would you rather date Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera?” “What song are you playing on repeat right now?” and “High heels or sneakers?” Though the app isn’t always intuitive, it’s still one of the best out there it if you’re seriously looking to find some girl-on-girl love or spaces.
Bumble started receiving attention several years ago when it became known as the app where women messaged first. According to the app store description, women “prompting conversation has lead Bumble to the highest post-match chat rate in the industry.”
Though Bumble isn’t exclusively a queer girl dating app, it allows users to choose their gender and sexual orientation and tailors the user’s experience based on sexuality. Bumble also has a great “BFF” feature so app users don’t get confused when, after days of chatting with a cutie, it turns out they’re only looking for friendship. Overall, Bumble is a little more customizable than simple swiping apps like Tinder, but less customizable than Her. The app allows you to add up to six photos, your occupation, your education, and an “about me.”
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Of all the dating apps out there, OkCupid is by far one of the most customizable ones—and the best if you’re looking to find love in a more substantial way than a swipe. With 12 sexual orientations and over 20 gender markers to choose from, OkCupid allows for the most specificity when it comes to users describing themselves.
The app’s most unique feature is its “percent match” algorithm. Users answer questions about their beliefs, experiences, likes, and dislikes, and are assigned a percentage match with every other user based on how they answered their questions. The more questions users answer, the more accurate your match rate. Many users choose to ignore the percent-match system entirely because, hey, love can’t be assigned a number. But for many, it comes in handy as a marker for how your value system may compare to someone else’s.
Like Bumble and Her, OkCupid has a feature that allows you to swipe the night away, but if you’re interested in getting to know someone better, you can visit their profile to learn about their favorite TV shows, Friday night habits, and zodiac sign before deciding whether you want to match with them. The best part of OkCupid? The “I don’t want to be seen by straight people” button.
While Fem has a lot of the same features as your average dating app, it also has something uniquely useful called “rooms,” which allows users to browse a variety of chat rooms to meet people, send selfies, or just have a late-night conversation. Some current chat rooms include “Meet Locals (W4W),” “Makeup Talk,” and “Naughty or Nice,” which is completely NSFW. The app is geared toward “lesbian and bi-curious people,” according to its app store description, and claims to weed out “fake singles.” What makes Fem stand out is its video capabilities. Users can upload their own intro videos, which means you’ll be able to see and hear what your match sounds like before you ever meetin IRL.
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No dating app write-up would be complete without mentioning Tinder. Though the app caters more to straight people, Tinder recently tried to create a more inclusive user experience by expanding options for gender, so “woman” and “man” aren’t the only two boxes everyone has to awkwardly fit into.
Queer, bisexual, and lesbian women are definitely a notable presence on the app, but many LBQ women who set their preferences to include men find that the app displays way more men than women. Women who just set their preferences to view other women sometimes find that men’s profiles have snuck into their potential matches. Though Tinder isn’t created specifically with queer or nonbinary people in mind, it’s popularity indicates that it will continue to grow among straight and LGBTQ folks looking for love.
6) The League
Let’s start off by saying the League is not for everyone. As an invite-only app that “vets” people and accepts or denies users based on looks, income, or intelligence, some view it as elitist and problematic. The app, however, has a different story to tell:
So you want to date someone who shares your education level and ambition? And maybe, just maybe, you’d like them to be in your same neighborhood, attractive enough to at least look good in black-and-white photos, with a height that meets your way-too-restrictive height preferences…While your mother may call you picky, we call you self-aware.
For those sold on the League’s mission to “date intelligently,” registration happens through an application and users have to provide their Facebook and LinkedIn accounts to hold profiles. An invitation to the League means users get 2–5 curated matches every 24 hours, unless you’re interested in paying $179/year for more “perks and prospects.”
Like on Bumble and Tinder, users on Clover will spend most of their time tapping the heart or the X icon based on photos. The app, which is queer-friendly but not explicitly queer, allows you to add interests, social media accounts, photos, your location, and personal details. Like OkCupid, Clover has a questions feature called “20 Questions.” On Clover, users can answer the questions with a simple tap, whereas OKC requires users to engage a little more deeply with the Q&A, sometimes answering a single question several different ways. Clover also allows you to glance at who likes you, who you’ve liked, and who you’ve recently passed.
Looking to skip past all the bots and potential catfish situations you might find on Tinder? Hinge is a great option to wipe out any bullshit matches from the start. It only matches you with people who share friends with you. This could be a first-degree connection (you have mutual friends) or second-degree (you share friends of friends). If your network of queer friends is somewhat small and you’re looking to expand, Hinge might be ideal. It’s also much more informative than Tinder, Bumble, or Her with personalized questions. Every user answers icebreakers that are featured on their profiles. If anything, this gives you a much more specific opening line than “Hi cutie.” Although that one might work just as well.
Looking for more? Here’s your guide to pronouns and what it means to be nonbinary, the difference between being polyamorous and sneaky, and the best dating apps for everything from hookups to true love. Plus, read more about the true meaning of kink and how to get enthusiastic consent.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.