By Erin Cassidy
Vincent Wouda-Seguin, 21, and Taylor Parsons, 21, have been dating for nearly two years. They met on a gay dating application called Grindr, which has the stigma that it is mainly used for finding quick hookups. The couple had previously tried other services like eHarmony and OKCupid, but found that those sites were not for them.
“It was easier to use Grindr,” says Wouda-Seguin. “Cause it was on my phone, whereas OKCupid was through emails and OKCupid picked (guys) for me, I don’t remember a dialogue going on when I used it.”
“I like to choose for myself,” says Parsons. “I’ve done Plenty Of Fish, eHarmony…eHarmony wasn’t that good for me because they choose for you, you just give them your answers and they choose for you…and I didn’t like that.”
The two had an interesting start to their relationship that started with a Muppet incident. When they first met, Parsons was wearing a Muppet shirt and Wouda-Seguin said that he liked them.
“I asked him on a follow-up date to go see the Muppet Movie, but it wasn’t till halfway through the Muppet movie that he said he didn’t like the Muppets,” Parsons says as he places his hand on Wouda-Seguins leg while laughing. “I based the whole date around it.”
Grindr was launched on March 25 in 2009. Now, four years later, it has more than 6 million users in 192 countries.
CEO and Founder of Grindr, Joel Simkhai, wanted a better way of finding guys, rather then going to the clubs or bars.
“I was curious to know who else way gay around me,” says Simkhai. “I wanted a more spontaneous, exciting and instantaneous way to meet guys and to help guys meet one another.”
When Grindr was first released, Simkhai didn’t expect it to be as popular as it is currently.
“We really owe it to our users,” Simkhai says. “They’re the ones who have made the app into an international sensation in just a few short years.”
Besides Grindr, there are many other apps geared towards the gay population such as Hunter, ManHunt and Scruff. However, there isn’t as much selection for the lesbian population unfortunately.
Steven Bender, founder of Brenda, a lesbian dating app, says that Brenda is more of a networking app for lesbians.
“(Brenda) is a place where you can make random connections with other women,” Bender says. “If the other user is just a couple of miles away which means you can go on a date and turn it into a real world thing, then that’s fabulous.”
Bender says that Brenda is for finding dates, making friends, and even just finding other women like yourself to chat to, in the same town as you or on the other side of the world. It sounds just like Grindr. But unlike the users of Grindr, Brenda’s users have to sign off on a strict app rule, if broken, they face consequences.
“(Brenda) users must agree on sign up that they understand that Brenda is not a sex app,” Bender says. “Any sexual content leads to an immediate ban.”
Bender says that lesbians typically don’t go searching for hookups, so having an app such as Brenda, may be what these women are looking for. Although, he does say that Brenda users can have intimate conversations, if they so choose to.
“If users want to get into a sexy chat with each other, that’s up to them and we are all for it if it’s what they want,” Bender says. “But we don’t have sexual profiles and we won’t tolerate unsolicited sexual messages being sent to our users.”
Sam Garanzini, executive director at Gay Couples Institute in San Francisco, deals with LGBTQ couples. He highly approves of these online dating services for the LBGTQ communities.
“They are great as they end up putting a lot of people in touch with one another that might not have spoken initially,” says Garanzini. “They are very important in the gay and lesbian culture.”