Why Can’t Lesbians Escape Men on Dating Apps?

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Speaker 1: Dating apps have been adding more gender options, which is awesome, but it also feels like there are guys who are misusing the system so they can show up for women who would otherwise be done.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Hi, I’m Maddison Malone.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Kircher and I’m Rachel Hampton and you’re listening to I Feel I’m.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: In Case You Missed It.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Please podcast about Internet Culture.

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Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Rachel I know I’m not supposed to get my phone on during a taping, but. Oh, but I have some exciting news for you that just broke on Twitter.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Oh, my God.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Tell me. And I know you don’t have your phone because you’re a better person than me.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Yeah, it’s on. Do not disturb. Since the last time my phone rang during a taping.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Worked towards coming back. What? Yeah. What? You’ll never guess who’s headlining.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Who is it? All time low. Is it my chemical romance? Fall out, boy. Mayday Parade.

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Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: I’m just going to play the clip for you.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Okay. Okay. I mean, I’ll recognize the intro to Misery Business anywhere. Why? You fucking kidding me? In the year of our Lord and Savior, you recruited me.

Speaker 1: I can’t help.

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Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: It. Cursing is the new Rickrolling. Gen Z has reinvented Rickrolling.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: They always do. Everything in the nineties comes back again.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: All right. Number one, to be very clear, warp door isn’t coming back. Sorry.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Oh, wow. My heart is broken right now. I’m going to go write a pop punk song about it. Mm hmm.

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Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: In case you don’t know what cursing is, it is the latest in new online trends where the phrase makes me sound old. People are posting TikTok featuring wild and very obvious lies, usually celebrities. So like Jojo, Siwa said, she was leaving the Internet and that one got me good. And then they pivot to a music video of the ladies of the Kardashian-jenner clan dancing to Lady Marmalade for a holiday card photoshoot in 2012.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: That is a mad libs that I shouldn’t be surprised makes sense. And yet every single day I’m like, How much more crazy can the internet get? The thing.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Is, I don’t hate this video.

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Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: As much as I should. Oh, same. The thing about this music video is that much like the original Rick Astley music video, it’s a time capsule. You look at this and you can immediately tell that you are not anywhere near 2022. Because not only does Kylie have her original lips, but Khloe is at least two faces ago.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: And all of them are four butts ago.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: It’s wild watching this.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Plus, Kris Jenner is wearing this like garish green sequin top. No one has any rhythm. It it’s very fun. And I haven’t hated having it pop up on my for you page.

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Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: I mean, it’s back when the Kardashians felt less fraught.

Speaker 1: Simpler times. Well.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Speaking of both sequins and big groups of women, it’s.

Speaker 1: Time on.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Honestly. Speaking of sequins and big groups of women students here.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Sequins and women. I think I put out a call on Twitter asking our LGBTQ pull ups. I see. Why am I guys once again, guys gender neutral term. To tell us what they are up to online these days. What’s good? What’s bad?

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: I’m assuming a lot is bad.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Yeah. I mean, look, I did. I had high hopes. I was like, someone’s going to bring us just a story of queer joy.

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Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: I’m sorry, but Jojo Siwa already came out. There’s nothing. There’s really nothing like that.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: And she got back together with her girlfriend. Oh.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Jojo, we love you.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: We do. We also love our listener, Gigi. And Gigi has a question that has long been burning in my brain about queer women looking to date other women on dating apps. This is a question about a problem I had truly hoped had resolved itself in the years since I have stopped using dating apps. And yes, that is a brag and know. Rachel, you cannot be mad at me for talking about my long term partner during Pride Month. July 1st is coming though.

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Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: I’m holding my singleness inside.

Speaker 1: Here’s Gigi High IQ NY. This is Gigi and I have an internet.

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Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Question for.

Speaker 1: You. So I’m on Bumble and I currently have my settings to show me only non men, but sometimes the algorithm still feeds me. Men’s profiles like guys with him his in their bios and I want to know what’s up with that. Is this some sort of glitch in the app? Is this bumble trying to force heterosexuality on me? Are there guys for intentionally messing with their settings to try to bait queer women? Let me know. Thanks and love the show.

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Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Those are some good ask questions.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: They are, and they’re not new ones either. They’re questions that no one has ever really been ever to answer properly. And in an effort to figure this out, I talked to a bunch of queer people about their experiences on dating apps, and I even read Downloaded Bumble to try to talk to some of these men who keep appearing where they shouldn’t be.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: How does Rebecca feel about this?

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: That’s my partner. I did text her being like, Hey, I’m going back on Bumble for work this week. So inevitably, because the queer community is very small, someone has certainly seen me in my travels. I also set my my location parameters at like the entire planet. Wow.

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Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: You got the 400 mile radius that they allow you to do?

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: I did. And I have learned a lot, very little. And I am even more frustrated than ever before with the state of dating apps for queer people.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Wow. I can’t wait to find out about the journey you went on. Welcome to the world of heterosexual dating, baby.

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Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: We’ve got to take a quick break. But when we come back, we’re going to hear from some of these women, discuss why it’s so frustrating for queer women specifically to try and find love online. Oh, even love just, you know, sex.

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Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Let’s talk about sexting.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: He let’s after a break.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: All right, we are back. Madison, I have to ask, as the resident straight, is this thing.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: It is 120% a thing.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: So, Beth, do you have a best guess for why this is happening? Okay.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: So I have long held an absolutely conspiracy level theory that this was straight men mucking around with their gender settings intentionally to get themselves in front of the eyeballs of queer women.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: I was going to say a conspiracy theory. You and then you sat that and I was like, you know, what is that? Even a conspiracy theory?

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: I simply cannot overstate the number of straight men I have encountered in my admittedly not that long life who truly believe that being a queer woman is just having not met the right guy yet.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: This is a temporary state or a phase.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Okay, so that’s one theory. My my slightly less conspiratorial and nefarious theory is that perhaps in setting up their dating profiles, these men did not read so carefully and and chose settings they didn’t intend to.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Men not reading carefully again now have these feel like conspiracy theories to me.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: I know we’re just talking about seeing people’s photos on your phone. So you’re ideally you’re in a safe place. You’re in your home, you’re you’re not out in like an I IRL dating scene. But the thing is, when you don’t want to be seen by straight men, it feels really violating to have that thrust upon you, even in a digital sense. When I think about like when I was working through my sexuality, I would toggle my settings all of the time because, you know, it was nice to be able to curate this version of my life in my head, you know, the one where like a woman’s picture would pop up and I would, you know, immediately envision what our life for the next 52 years would look like until we both went the way of the ending of up don’t look me like that. We all do it.

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Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: No, I was going to say, is that not normal?

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: It’s totally normal. But it was really helpful to be able to just see like woman after woman after woman to sort of play out that in my head and not, sir, why are you here? At any rate, what I’m saying is what Gigi is describing is very real. And not only that, it has been a known issue for almost as long as dating apps have existed. Which sucks.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: It does.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: And you don’t actually have to take my word for it though. I know, but I talked to plenty of LGBTQ people for this episode who have also experienced the distinct joy that is having a dating app serve you profiles of people you’ve specifically asked not to see.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Joy feels like the wrong word.

Speaker 1: Yeah, well.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: I thought I was doing sarcasm.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Sarcasm?

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: I will probably say this about six more times in this episode, but at this point I do want to strongly emphasize that we’re focusing on Gigi’s question, and we’re talking about queer women and non-binary folks who want to date other queer women and non-binary folks. This is a story about a small cross section of our beloved acronym Community, which is all to say, of course, dating as an LGBTQ person of any identity comes with its own distinct set of challenges and struggles and dangers. And I’m just not going to even pretend to presume to speak to all of those today.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: All right. So typical disclaimer point.

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Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Tweets are not endorsement.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Of we are in fact, not everywoman. It’s not all in us. Keep going.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: So I put out a call on our Twitter asking, you know, if anyone who listens to the show or follows us had experienced this. And thank you to all of the people who slid into my DMS from all over the country, from small towns and big cities, and said in just one resounding chorus, Yes, this happens to me all the time and I hate it.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: This makes me think that if you weren’t in a long term partnership, you really could just use this show as a dating.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Yeah. Is this a way that we stood up or. I mean, maybe it’s a wasted opportunity for you.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Hello. I’m single and I live in New York.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Here’s Michelle. She’s a lesbian who also lives in New York. Michelle told me she actually asked a dating app why this was happening to her. And their answer was lacking.

Speaker 1: I think that one of the challenges that I run into is that as a lesbian, there aren’t really great dating app options for me. Like, there are a couple like queer women’s specific apps like her, which I think is pretty bad. And the mainstream apps, I tend to run into issues where I’m seeing a ton of men’s profiles all the time and that just gets really annoying and discouraging.

Speaker 1: There is a day on Hinge where I saw 12 men’s profiles in a row and I actually sent in a support ticket about it and that took them a couple of days to respond. And basically they said this wasn’t a problem per say, it wasn’t a glitch, but that these guys had not entered a gender in their settings at all. So they were just showing up because there was no way to opt out of seeing them, which is kind of weird. I mean, I know that the dating app. Have been adding more gender options, which is awesome and definitely helps in some ways. But it also feels like there are guys who are misusing the system so they can show up for women who wouldn’t otherwise see them.

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Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: A tech platform absolving themselves of any responsibility from their users in Pride Month.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: So Michelle mentioned her, which is a dating app built specifically for queer women and non-binary folks. And to be honest, during my peak dating app era, although I guess I could have another but my last real.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Okay, let’s not let’s not make that that’s. No, I’m coming to your wedding. Keep going.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: I could still have another.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: That’s true. Divorce is normal. Keep going.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Oh, but monogamy is cool.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Also that.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: But I never really bothered using it. I don’t remember it working terribly well. And also, I didn’t necessarily believe that everyone I wanted to see was going to be on that app.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: That makes sense. I feel like smaller apps have smaller dating pools, right?

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: That’s the thing. Like dating apps like a tinder or a bumble work because of scale. So time for the numbers. In 2020, Tinder said that it had 75 million monthly active users and 6.5 million paid subscribers. So that’s people who open up the app every month and are swiping.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Oh my fucking God, like I’m on these apps that I’m still.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Shocked. Right? And Bumble quoted a 42 million monthly active users in 2021. So smaller but still large. Yeah her says that they have over 10 million users.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: That’s not insubstantial, but it tinder’s Eden her for lunch.

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Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Also, it’s important to know that they say they have 10 million users, which is vague enough to mean, oh, maybe we have over 10 million people who’ve made accounts.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Are they actually active?

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: I’m unclear, but it makes me think if you’re not saying it, that’s not true. I also talked to Dasha, who lives in Boston and dishes immediate response when I asked, you know, what’s it like to be queer dating apps these days? The answer was shit show.

Speaker 1: It’s about 40 to 50% unicorn hunters. And they take you out by having a woman in the first few pictures. And then you have to dive really deep into the bio to say hello. Okay, there probably is a man lurking in the background. Maybe he wants to watch or join or whatnot, but it’s not fun.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Unicorn hunters.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Hetero couple looking for a third, usually a bi woman, which is to be clear. That’s great. If you’re into it and you’re a consenting adult, hell yeah, get naked. But what these couples usually do is set up their profile to identify as a woman. Which means I get you and your boyfriend.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Yeah. So just the phraseology of unicorn hunting makes me feel like this experience is fetishizing in a way that.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: You don’t want to be hunted.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: No.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Okay. So did you mention this is happening to her own Bumble? Does Bumble have anything to say about this?

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Well, you know, I called and a spokesperson told me that, quote, A team of moderators are constantly working to support our community. There may be occasions where someone unintentionally misrepresents their gender during the onboarding process by assuming they are choosing the gender they would like to see instead of the gender they identify with. When this happens, we encourage our community to report the profile so our team can take action. So my secondary theory.

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Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: I mean, that does seem like something that would happen, but it also doesn’t strike me as the answer to the question you’re asking.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Right, exactly. And in speaking with this bumble rep, we sort of a place where we butted heads a little is this idea that Bumble stands by that this isn’t a common issue, which to me is complete.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Again, strikes me as a tech platform, not wanting to accept responsibility for a present problem.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: And I don’t think of this as some truly evil, homophobic coder. Yeah, just it doesn’t. It happens on every platform. But why I say I think this is crap is that I actually downloaded Bumble this week and it took me truly five swipes to find a man in my feed.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Oh, my.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: God. And I just to be clear, when I say man, I mean someone who had self-identified as such on the app. I’m not out here acting like there’s only one way to look or be a gender and you can’t tell what a person is. Don’t don’t try that. That’s gross So these are self-identified men who are in my feed, and I have set my profile to show me only women I’m a lesbian. If you are a woman, I will date you. If you are a man, I will not date you.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: The end says it right there on the tin baby. So did you talk to this self-identified man?

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: I did. I really did. And the way I phrased the questions, because I have set my account settings to show me only women was like, hi, I’m a journalist. I’m working on a story about dating apps I’m supposed to be only showed profiles of women. Do you identify as a woman? I was actually pleasantly surprised to learn that none of them, to their own knowledge, were trying to be that creepy, pervy guy. I had it mentioned in my head. All the guys I talked to said that they had identified they identified as men and had done so in the app and were searching for women. It’s possible that they, you know, made the goof that Bumble is describing. But yeah, one guy, Patrick I as 100% male.

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Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Of course Patrick said that.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: But I answered me. He did then follow up with There’s three sides to every story. I asked what that meant.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: What’s the third side here?

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: He then wrote, I gather what you’re writing is a piece on how women deal with online dating. Maybe you need a male perspective as well.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Bitch, we’re writing about lesbians.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Patrick, I assure you, you don’t. But actually, you did, in fact, give me one by saying you didn’t know how you wound up in my feed.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: So do you believe these men?

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: I actually do, because the guys I was talking to, I’m not going to sleep with them. They want to sleep with women. Date women. I’m not going to do any of that. No one’s getting what they want from the fact that these platforms aren’t functioning. How we need them to. Including Gigi.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: So what exactly does this mean for Gigi and for every other person like Gigi out there?

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Well, unfortunately, it means tech not built for queer people is working exactly as it was designed.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Confetti, balloons.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Like I said, this is a dating app wide problem. I heard from people complaining about the same thing on Tinder and on Hinge. One listener told me they recently spotted a quote straight man on her, literally identifying as a, quote, cisgender man in his bio read I don’t have any luck anywhere else, so I’ll try here. Devil emoji. So that bad straight guy I invented in my head. Sorry to the straight men who listen to the show. I’m sure you’re not him, but there’s at least one out there.

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Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: I would venture there’s more than we are.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Accuracy in journalism can only confirm one.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: There’s only one confirmed bad man out there, and he’s doing all the bad man things.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: And look, I generally like bumble shtick as an app. I don’t actually think this is, like I said, the case of.

Speaker 1: Homophobic.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Engineers that embedded at every dating app conspiring against the gay agenda. I just think it means that these platforms and systems that were built with heterosexuality at their core can’t ever actually fully serve queer people. Judy, I’m sorry.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: I’m also sorry you have to see straight men.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: After a quick break, we’re going to talk about those other apps, the ones built by queer people for queer people. Spoiler alert the conversation isn’t about to get much cheerier. Happy pride.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Hi. If you love our podcast, which I really hope you do, then please consider subscribing to Slate. Plus, it is the best way to support this podcast. This show would not be possible without y’all. You also will get no ads on any Slate podcasts, including this one. You’ll get bonus segments or episodes on shows like the incredible new season of Slow Burn on Amish Kids on Working and Big Mo Little Moon. You will also get unlimited reading on the Slate website, which means you get access to every single article and advice column on Slate and will never hit the paywall. Just go to Slate.com, slash on my plus a sign up that is Slate.com slash SC where I am I plus.

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Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: And we’re back.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: We talked a little bit about the kinds of apps that are built for people who aren’t aces, straight dudes looking for romance or sex or both. And there’s another app we have to mention in that category, and that’s an app called Lex.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Oh, I know this one.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Great. So Lex, which is short for Lexicon, started out as an Instagram account where queer folks would post these incredibly specific personal ads. They were so horny and delicious in a way that was just refreshing as a lesbian to see out in the open. They were just so, so detailed in the sex acts. People wanted to performed the like Mr. Softee cone with very specific like rainbow sprinkles you were going to get after. Like it just it was fun. And they were written in the style of old newspaper personal ads. So there were no photos. And then you would just go to the comments and people would just be drooling, like losing their minds over these ads. And I feel like often queer women don’t get to be sexual beings on our own terms. Right? It’s either like the gross male gaze porn stuff or you bought a U-Haul. You rented a U-Haul. I guess you could buy one, but that would be next level. You rented a U-Haul, you got two cats and then told them that they both shall live.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: You’re saying women don’t get to be sexual beings on their own terms?

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: No. And would you believe that further marginalized women, it’s even worse?

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Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: I cannot imagine. But I will say I heard of this Instagram account and I really loved it. As someone who hates the way online dating functions, this read to me is one of the more sincere ways that people were actually like looking for what they wanted, whether it was partnership, whether it was sex life, whether it was sexy, it was hot, and it was the anonymity. In many ways, dating apps offer a form anonymity. You don’t know if anyone’s real name is said, but the actual pure anonymity was so cool to see and it seemed to work.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: It did. And so it grew and it grew in. Personals has since left Instagram to become a fully fledged dating app called Flex. And while I was researching for the show, I actually found a really great piece from queer journalist Mary Emily O’Hara from 2019 about the same issue. So men popping up in lesbians dating app feeds. And at the time, O’Hara was really optimistic about the launch of Lex, this idea that this will be the piece of tech built by queer people, for queer people that will give us what we’ve long needed.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: I have a feeling that that optimism doesn’t hold up, but please tell me it. Help. I need something.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: So if you talk to people in the community, Lex has some issues, as you know.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: What?

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Yeah, community based platform doesn’t. There are allegations of trans misogyny among users. The idea that it’s become a turf haven. There are also people who are upset that the Apple family allowed six men to join queer cis men. But says men.

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Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: I mean, those sound like really real problems. The gatekeeping that’s necessary to make a space for marginalized community is inherently really difficult to actually maintain.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Precisely. And like you said, those are all really very real problems. But I actually want to zoom in on a much simpler issue. That is the pivot into an app, turn this once like very steamy and affirming dating experience into what I can best describe as queer Craigslist.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: And Craigslist is a.

Speaker 1: Hard.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: I mean, I’ve got like some really excellent furniture off of it. But our colleagues over on outward did a great show in 2021 about the state of sex about a year after its launch that will put in the shownotes. And it was kind of grim. I’m not going to lie. They describe the app as having become a place where you could find a queer book club before you’d likely find somebody to hook up with.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: So what is it still like that? That was 2021. We’re. We’re a year later.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Yeah, I checked it out this week and I set my location radius very wide and I found just so many other things before I got to a true personal ad. Someone looking for people for a photoshoot, someone looking to borrow card tables for their wedding, someone looking for a salsa instructor. Very specific, very charming, all very rooted in in queerness.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: But I again, understand the appeal of using the space like that, where, you know, if you want a salsa instructor and you’re queer, having a queer salsa instructor makes sense because you don’t want to be that intimate with someone who might fetishize you how to ever. This is not a dating app. Like what? Where’s the.

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Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Dating? Right. And there just isn’t that app. It doesn’t exist. So when we talk about gay men, for example, we can talk about Grinder. And here is where again, I say this is an episode about a small cross-section of a large community. And Griner is not a perfect app by any means, but at its core it does work as it was engineered for many people who use it seeking sex. Here’s Emma talking a little bit about that.

Speaker 4: I think I’ve seen a lot more queer women say that they would really like to have at least the option of something more casual that’s kind of agreed upon by both people.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: And it always feels like gay men get everything. So it would.

Speaker 4: Be nice to have an app that was like. Grinder. But I also think it would be nice if it felt like the major apps that already exist. The software was like better tailored to have for people existing on the app.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Well, it says makes sense. I mean if there’s anything being on the dating apps is for it’s a straight woman is at least very easy to find sex anything else. God help you but at the very least you can find somebody.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: And here’s where I’m going to put on my, like, big empathy hat for everyone, even all of our sweet, straight listeners, even though it’s still June. Just kidding. I love you all. Truly dating sucks. Full stop. Online dating really sucks.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Thank you for your sympathy.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Yeah. Yeah, man, I talked to you truly. Probably were not thrilled to have their time wasted by a lesbian who was never going to date them. But for those guys, I’m one in a zillion fish, you know, whatever, right? There are mechanisms and apps and spaces where straight folks can go to find what they’re looking for romantically and sexually versus, you know, for me and Gigi and Michelle and Emma and Dasha and all these people I talked to, there just aren’t that many options. And when I say there’s not that many options for me, I mean that’s a zillion times more true for trans folks and queer people of color. It just it gets increasingly difficult to find that space digitally or IRL to meet someone.

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Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Would you like to guess how many lesbian bars there are? The United.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: States? I feel like every year I hear another lesbian bar has closed down leaving x many. So I’m going to guess under 25.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Yeah. The numbers.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: 2103.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Of them are in New York City, which is great for me. The adult who is privileged enough to move to this incredibly queer place and come out of the closet. It’s not so great for well, I’ll speak about myself again. A 20 year old living in a tiny town in upstate New York that has a bar called Sandy’s Clam Bar, which should be a gay bar, but isn’t. Wow.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: That’s false advertising, right?

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Every time I drove fast, that sign as an adult, a great name for a gay bar.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: That’s fucked someone in the by that I am I and rename it.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: But that’s why the need for apps to work for our community is so critical. Like I’m genuinely psyched if Lex is functioning as queer craigslist and it’s working and connecting people. I just want there to also be Lady Grindr. I want Tinder that safe for trans people to date without risk of bodily harm. I gets on soapbox like to quote my favorite poem I want a dyke for president. Like Give me these things. And this specifically.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: I will learn how to code and I will make a platform. And I’m sure no one will care that a straight lady is making it like this.

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Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: I think ironically, where queer dating apps get set up to fail is that the very best of the LGBTQ community has no interest in the policing, and that is all that dating apps do. They sort you into categories like binary? You are X, they are y, x wants y, invite me to the wedding.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: I mean, it is true that communities that are built on inclusion fail exclusion.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: So we get stuck with the apps that we’re stuck with. Which to be clear, this isn’t me dissuading anybody from using them. They are what we have. But it’s just like most things in the world. When you’re a queer person or a marginalized person in any way, you learn to operate differently in the world structures around you. Here’s Willow Bennett.

Speaker 1: You know, when I was just coming out and there were so few people in my life, I knew I was queer, like dating apps definitely were that thing where it was like I could switch the knob and say it was clear and like talk to queer people about actualizing it yet. And that was so influential in coming out for me. So I do appreciate them and I think there’s value to them. And you know, if one of my friends are going through a breakup, I’m like, download him the word so often.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: What’s the worst that could happen?

Speaker 1: A lot. A lot. Okay.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: In happier news, Willa is a true romantic, though, and she told me that she’s certain she’s going to meet her next partner in real life.

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Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: Oh, my God. I love that optimism.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Me do. And I want that for. Well, it’s true. And I want that for every queer person. But, you know, Will and I also talked about how that’s just not feasible for every queer person or safe. And frankly, even if you do have the luxury of having access to those queer spaces, it’s getting harder and harder to feel entirely safe in them. Where we are ending or getting near to ending is being back at this idea of existing in a world that is built digitally for heterosexuality and figuring out how to work around that. If you want to date online, queer people are incredibly resilient. I wish we didn’t have to be, but this month I think all we can do is celebrate that and the ways in which LGBTQ people use these apps continually, successfully and figure it out. Also, if you’d like to give a shout.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: We’re turning into a dating app.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: But on today’s episode you heard from Emma, Michelle, Daysha and Willa, and I just wanted to take a second to thank all of them for their time and their thoughts. Special thanks to anybody else who slid into my DMS. You’re all wonderful, happy pride to all of our listeners in the closet and out. We see you. We love you.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: All right.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: That is a show. We’ll be back in your feet on Saturdays, so please subscribe. It is the best way to never miss an episode. Never miss a madison investigation. Please leave a rating and review an Apple or Spotify. Tell your friends about us. You can follow us on Twitter. It is who I am.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: I underscore POD, which is also seeking to address your questions like Why are there no good lesbian dating apps? We’ll try to answer. You can also always drop us an AC. Why am I at Slate.com?

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: I see. Why am I? Is produced by Daniel Shrader, Rachel Hampton and me. Madison Malone Kircher. Alicia montgomery is Slate’s VP of Audio. See you online or.

Rachel Hanson, Rachel Hampton: At a nonexistent lesbian bar.

Maddison Malone, Madison Moon: Norman Hermant That’s not the kicker.