A Space of Our Own: Exploring the Relationship Initiation Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual Dating App Users
This mixed-methods study explores dating app use within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) community. LGBTQIA+ dating app users (N = 231) from across the U.S. were surveyed about their relationship initiation experiences. Thematic analysis was used to identify the benefits and challenges participants faced on dating apps and their motives for adopting (or avoiding) dating apps specifically for the LGBTQIA+ community (e.g., Grindr, Her, Butterfly). Participants described benefitting from dating apps, but also confronting significant challenges such as discrimination and the erasure of identity. Just over half (55.0%) of the sample reported using LGBTQIA+ dating apps, which functioned as safe spaces, reduced uncertainty about others’ identities, and were better adapted to community norms. Multiple logistic regression was also used to test predictions regarding user adoption. Findings have implications for understanding how people in historically thin dating markets are using mobile technology to expand their opportunities for relationship initiation.