India’s LGBT community deserves better apps
After drinks on a Saturday night, Akash* opens gay meet up-app Grindr to continue an earlier conversation. They’ve agreed to meet at the large ICICI Bank at the corner. After a few nervous minutes of waiting, he recognizes a face coming up the street. Their walk home is careful, avoiding the juice shop where policemen usually stand. “Grindr life,” Akash laughs.
Fast forward a few encounters to a Sunday afternoon. Akash opens the app again, this time to a charming stranger who asks to meet in a posh neighborhood. A short walk and a winding staircase later, he’s confronted by a man who looks nothing like the well-positioned photos he’s sent. He runs, reminded of other stories – urban tales of a man lured into a Grindr date in Delhi and beat up, or one in which blackmail and public shaming are used as revenge.
Are there options? Barely. Tinder preferences can be adjusted, but the app connects directly with Facebook to display mutual connections. That makes things more transparent but also merges a network that often includes family and friends, terrifying for many in anti-anything-but-straight India.
A few people direct me to an Indian site that’s been gaining popularity, Amour. It’s an online dating project that lets people create profiles and meet like-minded individuals across the gender spectrum. It’s available in five languages, including English, Hindi, and Kannada.
The problem is – it’s still just a database, and definitely doesn’t have the investor interest or tech background to match the likes of Grindr.
It’s clear about that. “We still DO NOT RULE OUT data leakage to external persons,” Amour writes on its site.
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