Last week, we compared 4 dating and hookup apps from a queer and trans viewpoint: Lex, Bumble, Feeld, and Butterfly. This week, we’re looking at the big two: OkCupid and Grindr.
Hookups: Grindr Was Made For This
Grindr was originally designed as a hookup app for (cis) gay men, and that ethos is still front and center: you might be an anomaly if you’re aiming for something longer than hooking up. Grindr has officially opened its targeted audience to “the LGBTQ+ and broader community,” and is marketing accordingly. This isn’t always welcome to the original user base. A quick Reddit search on “Grindr” gave me more than a few posts complaining about the diversified user base. If you dive in to the Grindr pool, know that there may be some bitter waters.
Grindr Profile Options
Grindr profiles are quick to set up and publish, but can be expanded. To get started, all you need is a name, your age, and some tags. The About Me section allows for 255 characters but is not required. Tags are searchable keywords you can add to your profile. You may choose up to 8 tags from a limited list of descriptors ranging from “adventurous” to “yoga.” In between “A” and “Y” are nearly 150 different terms ripe for the picking.
You can be:
- geeky, kinky, loyal, or shy, and
- hairy, smooth, thick, cut, and flexible,
- into leather, latex, and pop music,
- or t4t, spanking, and carplay.
- or, you can be a vaccinated unicorn with tentacles.
If you’d like to build out your profile, you can add your height, weight, ethnicity, and body type. Grindr also allows you to denote your favorite position (Top, Vers Top, Versatile, Vers Bottom, Bottom, Side, or no response,) and your “Tribe.” Tribes have some overlap with tags but also can be used as search filters. There is a “Trans” tribe, so you can identify yourself as a member of Tribe Trans, or search for others who check off that box.
More Details, Please
Other options include describing your (current) relationship status, what you’re looking for (chat, cates, friends, networking, right now, relationship,) options for where you’re willing to meet, and if you’ll accept NSFW images.
The ability to specify gender and pronouns came along with expanding the Grindr userbase to the larger LGBTQ+ community. Grindr has broken up gender into three categories:
- Man (Cis, Trans, Custom (20 character field,)
- Woman (Cis, Trans, Custom (again, 20 character field,)
- Non-Binary (Non-Binary, Non-Conforming, Queer, Crossdresser, Custom Non-Binary (20 chars, you know the rules by now.)
I’m intrigued that Grindr classifies crossdressing as a gender choice, but perhaps they ran out of coding options in tags or tribes. Available pronouns are He/Him/His, She/Her/Hers, They/Them/Theirs, or custom pronouns (you guessed it, 20 characters, max.)
Grindr also offers the ability to share some sexual health details including HIV status (negative, negative on PrEP, positive,) your last testing date by month, and a reminder function for future testing. Grindr also links to information about testing and a Sexual Health FAQ from within the app. Good job, Grindr!
But Can You Find A Hookup?
For my research profile, I was curious and geeky, discreet, poly, trans, and into reading and writing. I had no pictures posted and nothing in my About Me section. And yet, I got more than a few looks, and several messages and my gallery of “nearby” folx was long and refreshed regularly. When I included a filter for Tribe Trans, my feed remained full, and that’s a good feeling: there appears to be a strong user base. I did not engage in any messaging as I had not indicated in my About Me that I was doing research.
The Vibe, and Other Tidbits
Grindr requires location permissions to operate. You can, however, allow only this time or only while using the app. Location is very granular, as may be expected for a hookup app. One of my “looks” was less than 3,000 ft. away when we were both online.
My main gallery was full of abs, underwear, and butt shots, although the majority of profiles included a clear face.
You get a lot of functionality in the free version, including filtering by age, looking for, and tribe, and online status, with/without photos, height, weight, body type, position, relationship status, meeting preference, and whether or not they accept NSFW images.
Paid subscriptions will get you more profiles in your feed, more filtering and chat options, and no ads. “XTRA” runs $20/month and “Unlimited” is $40/month. Like the other services, discounts are given for purchasing multiple months at once.
OkCupid describes itself as a dating app, has a huge user base, AND markets to LBGTQ+ folx, so for efficiency, it may be the best option for finding people to date. OkCupid has included gender and orientation options since 2013 – they may also be the best-coded app for trans and queer folk.
OKC allows up to 6 photos in your profile.
OkCupid is all about helping you describe yourself, in detail. You are required to answer 15 of the trademark match questions before your profile goes live. If you’re ever bored, there are thousands of questions waiting for your answers.
The About Me self-summary free text field is huge! I didn’t try to break it, but there does not seem to be a character limit. You can also add an image within your self-summary. Prompts include favorite childhood memories, a haiku about yourself, how other people would describe you, and things that *don’t* describe you. You’ll also have the option to write about your talents and skills, your golden rule, unique quirks, your hobbies, etc. If you’re ever stuck for a discussion topic, OkCupid is there to help.
Gender, Orientation, Identity, Relationship
22 to choose from, including Hijra, which I’ve not seen included in any other platform. There’s also “Other Gender” if no others describe you well.
20 sexual orientation options, including several options for ace and aro folks.
Identity: where you can indicate if you’re a top or bottom, a bear, a butch (stone, hard, and soft,) a switch, a stud, or a twink (and others, you get the gist.) This is a checky-box list: multiple choices allowed.
In contrast to Grindr, OkCupid is minimalistic on relationship types. Are you monogamous, non-monoagamous, or open to either?
Pronouns are optional and include He/Him, She/Her, They/Them, or Custom. Here, it looks like you have many more than 20 characters.
Looking For …
Your options in looking for include gender, identity, age, distance, and “connections.” Connections are your desired relationship type: new friends, short-term dating, long-term dating, or hookups. You can also stipulate that your choice is a dealbreaker – any one who does not match your selection is filtered out.
Here’s the big bummer. Free OkCupid feels limited in functionality. You can see, like, and message profiles, but you can’t see who has liked you. You may have a lot of matches, but you only get to see them one at a time, except for “Cupid’s Picks” which is a set of 4 or 5 matches that refreshes daily. You also have a limited number of daily likes available. There are two paid subscriptions, Basic, and Premium. They give you more ability to control who you see and sees you, how many profiles you can like, remove ads, etc. OkCupid is the most expensive option I’ve covered:
- Premium is $54.99/month
- Basic is….impossible to find if you have a subscription running. My guess is $34.99/month
- You can also purchase Boosts (get seen by more people,) and Incognito Mode
Like the first four apps, I described myself as there to do some research, and asked people to “like” me if they were interested in talking about their okc experiences. Several people liked me, most of whom were trans and/or queer. Of those, two replied to my questions. Here’s what they had to say:
To me OKC feels like one of the better sites for queer folks as far as feeling welcomed and safe, and especially when it comes to being shown the profiles of other LGBT+ people.Mark
The big positive OKC has is the extensive preferences checkboxes, and the “deal breaker” feature. But of course, the drawback that it shares with most other apps is it’s a giant cash cow and turns the act of trying to meet new people into a pay-to-play mobile game.
The only other app I’ve used lately is Bumble, which seems way worse when it comes to showing good potential matches. For example, I’m nonreligious, queer, & polyamorous but definitely more than half of the profiles that show up for me on Bumble are monogamous Christian women
I personally approach dating apps in a very different perspective than I would feel most others do. I swipe right on just about anybody and let them filter me, because I am typically not everyone’s cup of tea and don’t have the time with my home life to “curate” a list or pay for any of the apps. Most of the folks that chat with me are quite welcoming and usually amongst the queer, kink, or neurodivergent communities….PapaPicklez
I don’t filter my humans on OKC at all because I am very open to whom I may meet and as a relationship anarchist I believe anything can be built with healthy communication and practice.
The Grand Re-Cap on Dating and Hookup Apps
Best For Hookups: Grinder
Best For Adventurous Sorts: Feeld
Best For Dating: OkCupid
Best For Old School Personals: Lex
Best Dedicated Transgender Site: Butterfly
Probably Not Worth It: Bumble
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