Just in time for my swipe-athon, Tinder, in partnership with GLAAD, just rolled out a feature called “Orientation” that allows users to select from nine sexual-orientation markers: straight, gay, lesbian bisexual, demisexual, pansexual, queer, asexual, and questioning. And since sexuality is nuanced (which is not a new thing, yet still news to some), folks can choose up to three orientations on that list. This is a huge improvement from the platform's previous "interested in" options, which were limited to men, women, or both.
The noteworthy and thoughtful feature allow you to opt to have your orientation(s) appear in your bio or kept private, which helps keep users who are worried about being outed and/or who simply want to explore/experiment swipe more safely. And, you can choose to see people who share your orientation preferences, which may be appealing. For new Tinderers, choosing your sexual orientation is now part of the onboarding experience, whereas previously, “straight” was the assumed sexuality, so only non-hetero users were tasked with going into the back end and fiddling with their preferences. (Other datings apps would be wise to take note of this detail, which can disenfranchise LGBTQ+ seekers who are left to feel like an afterthought.)
I have the same question for Tinder as I do for any company releasing inclusive products and features during Pride: What are you doing year-round to make your product/company queer-friendly?
Also worth mentioning: This isn’t the first time Tinder has stepped up to the inclusive plate. In November of 2016, the company rolled out 37-plus gender-identity options, which has led to 80 million new matches among users. As Rich Ferraro, chief communications officer at GLAAD says in a press release, "Tinder continues to show a dedication to inclusivity with updates that reach millions of people and create safer spaces for LGBTQ users.”
To that point, Elie Seidman, CEO of Tinder adds, “Dating apps are invaluable platforms for connecting the LGBTQ+ community, and we’re beyond proud to continue our efforts.” (It's true: Research suggests that nearly than two-thirds of LGBTQ+ couples meet online). That word "continue" is genuine, too: Tinder acknowledges that its list of sexual orientation identifiers will evolve change over time and encourages users to write in to firstname.lastname@example.org with feedback.
And if I were to write in, I'd suggest to Tinder the same tip I would offer any company releasing inclusive products and features during Pride: What are you doing year-round to make your product/company queer-friendly? What are you doing to support the rights of queer people who are supporting your company by using your product/app? Are you hiring queer employees and paying them well? Are you thinking about how your service could be even better for the queer community during every month of the year rather than just profiting on Pride-month rainbow products?
I hope inclusive features and launches are never a brand's attempt to capitalize on the LGBTQ+ community, and that these rollouts are reflective of an ongoing effort to be queer-inclusive. In Tinder's case, the latter is true. This summer, for instance, Tinder is supporting the LGBTQ+ community by offering free advertising to nonprofits dedicated to driving social, political, and cultural equality and acceptance of people across all genders and orientations. Pretty rad, no?
That said, in that same press release, Tinder describes itself as, “the top-grossing non-gaming app globally in 2018.” So I ask again: Tinder—amped as I am by this feature, which I hope leads to a more nuanced cultural understanding of sexual and romantic relations—could you be doing more? And I ask all consumers to repeat that question to every company, platform, brand, and organization they patronize, because rainbows shouldn't be limited to June.
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