Here are the best gay dating apps, since meeting people IRL is hell
We compare LGBTQ-specific apps plus the ones straight people also use, letting you know which are best based on what you're looking for.
Disclosure
Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.
Best for queer women
HER
HER is where you can meet nearby lesbians you never knew existed, plus read up on LGBTQ news and local events.
Best specifically for gay men
Grindr
Grindr is a classic choice for gay men who want a ton of options, very little small talk, and instant meet-up opportunities.
Best for inclusivity
OkCupid
OkCupid's matchmaking algorithm plus its queer-friendly options makes for a massive LGBTQ following.

Dating. Whether you hate it a little or hate it a lot, it's a rite of passage for most of us.

It's also particularly challenging for members of the LGBTQ community, who've traditionally only had access to hetero-based sites and apps. When I was on the apps in the late aughts, queer women could barely be found. I met so many cis straight men who checked the "women seeking women" box so they could match with queer women who, they fantasized, would magically change their sexual orientation just for them. (Nope.) 

Some of that hasn't changed in 2018. But as the number of out LGBTQ people has grown, so too have their opportunities in online dating spaces. Queer-friendly dating apps and sites are multiplying, and there are even a few that are — wait for it — pretty damn good.

If you're LGBTQ and hate leaving your home, you're not alone. Here are the best dating apps and sites that'll maximize your opportunities while minimizing your human contact. Bless.

They're all worth a look or a swipe for that next hookup or serious relationship and are available on Android or iPhone. Some have paid versions, but prices aren't anywhere near the (ridiculous) ranks of the eharmonies of the world.

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Image: her
The Good
Find hookups or something long term • No male profiles • Numerous gender identity options • Local community involvement opportunities
The Bad
Bios tell you nothing • Up and coming user base
The Bottom Line
For when you're just plain over the heteronormativity of Tinder, HER will seriously widen your dating pool of lesbians.

1. HER

HER is where you can meet nearby lesbians you never knew existed, plus read up on LGBTQ news and local events.
  • Free version: Yes
  • Paid version: $9.99
Gay men have so many great/sometimes problematic apps to choose from — Grindr, SCRUFF, Jack'd, Hornet, Adam to Adam. And queer women basically have one: HER. Thankfully, HER is a non-offensive, user friendly app good for folks seeking long-term relationships as well as those who want a more, uh, temporary arrangement. Initially launched as Drattch in 2013, the app rebranded as HER in 2015 after receiving money from Y Combinator. Aside from a dating app, HER also acts as a sort of Facebook group for the queer community: Go to local events, find new LGBT movies to watch, bash the government, and connect with anyone who shares a post you like.
Bonus: The site doesn't assume that all of their users are cis women and allows folks to identify as genderfluid, non-binary, and otherwise. 

Details to remember:

  1. HER is totally free to download. Bonus services, including unlimited swipes and the opportunity to view who's liked you, are available via their subscription service, which starts at $9.99 per month.
  2. Accounts are verified and linked to people's Facebook profiles, so you're less likely to find fake profiles and trolls.
  3. There's less room for a bio in HER than there is on Hinge or Tinder. Users have to be incredibly selective about their words and corny jokes. It can sometimes take several message before you realize the person you're speaking with is way too into Harry Potter.
Check it out here.
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Image: tinder/mashable
The Good
Massive user base • Decent amount of gender options
The Bad
Still get opposite sex suggestions • Straight couples constantly ask for threesomes
The Bottom Line
If you can get past possibly getting carpal tunnel from swiping (including past the gender you didn't ask for) Tinder offers borderline infinite match opportunities.

2. Tinder

  • Free version: Yes
  • Tinder Plus: Starting at $2.99/month
  • Tinder Gold: Starting at $4.99/month
More than 50 million people use Tinder monthly, and not all of them are straight dudes hiking mountains. Queer and trans folks head to Tinder because its dating pool is colossal. In 2016, Tinder announced that it would allow users to select from more than 40+ gender options. The app worked with GLAAD, the cast of Transparent, and trans activists to make sure it met the diverse needs of the trans community.]
In December of last year, however, Tinder came under fire after a group of transwomen reported that they'd been repeatedly kicked off the app. The users contended that they were removed from the site after male trolls submitted multiple false complaint reports. Despite all of this, Tinder has made notable efforts to be more trans and queer inclusive over the years by offering an above average number of gender options. That's more than most apps its size, which typically offer a grand total of ... two.

Details to remember:

1. Tinder is free to download. It also includes an optional tier for $4.99 a month that allows users to see who likes them.
2. More than 50 million people use Tinder, and chances are you're going to see someone who you work with on the app. Awkward! Predictable!
3. Because of its popularity, Tinder is the app people love to hate. This doesn't mean the haters don't have a point, but in general, the quality of people you find on Tinder is no better or worse than you'll find anywhere else. No matter where you go in life, crappy people will follow <3 <3 <3. Have faith!
Check it out here.


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Image: chappy
The Good
Can specify what you're looking for • Relationship-focused
The Bad
Only available in three cities • Requires a Facebook
The Bottom Line
Setting itself apart from the hookup-obsessed Tinders and Grindrs of the world, Chappy aims to take things a little more seriously — in the cities where it's available, that is.

3. Chappy

  • Free version: Yes
Chappy is the latest app to cater to the relationship-seeking crowd among gay men. In 2017, Chappy was introduced in three major cities: Los Angeles, London, and New York. Chappy brands itself as an app that caters to three demographics — people who are looking for long term relationships ("Mr. Right"), those who are looking something more casual ("Mr. Right Now") and those who don't know what they want ("Mr. Who Knows"). The app was backed by Whitney Wolfe, a co-founder of Tinder and CEO of Bumble. “Both of us identified that all the apps out there at the moment are very much casual dating apps which focus on facilitating hookups,” co-founder Jack Rogers told The Independent in an interview.
It's unclear whether Chappy will produce longer and more satisfying relationships for me than traditional apps like Grindr. If nothing else, the app at least gives people the illusion that such a partnership is in their future. Delusions schelusions, we'll take it.   

Details to remember:

1. Chappy is relatively small and young in app terms, so don't expect the overpopulated dating pool you might find on Grindr or Scruff.
2. The app requires users to have Facebook for verification purposes, so it won't work for those who've rightfully abandoned the platform. You're disproportionately likely to find people like this on the app. 
3. Chappy is free to download, though as their user base grows, so too might potential in-app purchases. 
Check it out here.
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Image: okcupid
The Good
22 gender and 13 orientation options • Large user base • Trusted matchmaking algorithm • Woke for a not exclusively LGBTQ app
The Bad
A-List can get pricey • Not LGBTQ-specific
The Bottom Line
As their slogan says, "Dating deserves better." OkCupid has made serious strides in the world of inclusivity, adding to their already-trusted matchmaking algorithm.

4. OkCupid

OkCupid's matchmaking algorithm plus its queer-friendly options makes for a massive LGBTQ following.
  • A-List Basic: Starting at $4.95/month
  • Free version: Yes
  • A-List Premium: Starting at $19.90/month
It would be great if someone developed more queer- and trans-specific dating apps. It's also not likely to happen anytime soon, due to the scale of investment required and the audience served. Dating apps need lots and lots of users to be successful, and with Tinder and OkCupid already sort of serving the community, I don't expect new ones to make major inroads anytime soon.
However, OkCupid was impressively much faster than other apps to expand their orientation and gender identity options. In 2014, OkCupid began offering their users more than a dozen different ways to identify. The app currently offers users 22 different genders and 13 orientations to choose from, and also includes helpful descriptions of each for folks who are unfamiliar with this kind of stuff. 
And unlike Tinder, OkCupid gives so much more room for people to write profiles, answer questions, and explain their possibly questionable worldview. While it's impossible for the app to screen out all the haters, you can get a decent sense of user's views on trans and queer people and whether they're gonna be an asshole because you love cable TV.

Details to remember:

1. It's free to download, but you'll have to pay to enjoy their Premium A-list features. 
2. If you want more people to see your profile, you can pay to have it promoted like you would on Twitter.
3. OkCupid also collects really interesting data about users on their OkCupid blog. Sure, some of their data collection services might be a wee bit invasive, but I'm not aware of any services that aren't.
Check it out here.


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Image: Grindr
The Good
Massive selection for gay men • Well-done online lifestyle publication • Dick pics galore
The Bad
Almost no boundaries • Most dick pics are unsolicited • Selection is less robust in less populated areas
The Bottom Line
As NSFW as it can get, Grindr still holds its place as the granddaddy of gay dating apps with a huge, diverse user base and instant meet-up opportunities.

5. Grindr

Grindr is a classic choice for gay men who want a ton of options, very little small talk, and instant meet-up opportunities.
  • Free version: Yes
  • One month of Grindr XTRA: $9.99/month
  • Three months of Grindr XTRA: $6.99/month
  • Free version: Yes
Grindr brands itself as the world's largest dating app for gay men as well as queer and trans people. With a dearth of functional trans-specific dating apps on the market, it's no wonder the app attracts a sizable segment of this population. Grindr lacks the boundaries other apps provide, so don't be surprised if people you haven't liked on the app message you. The app isn't exactly known for it's, uh, lovely and harmonious conservations about race, either. Still, it's a blockbuster app with a diverse dating pool. The company has conducted some pretty illuminating research about its international user base. Added bonus: Grindr just started a brand new LGBTQ digital media publication called Into, which we profiled here.

Details to remember:

  1. Like most apps, Grindr is free to download but also offers additional features through its subscription service.
  2. Grindr is more than just dick pics, but it's also definitely dick pics.
  3. With close to 6 million monthly users, it's one of the largest apps in the game.
Check it out here.


So, look: There are plenty of decent apps out there, and even more that are up-and-coming. For people who are queer and want to connect, fear not. There's no need to go to the cheesy bar down the block. Bust out your phone and let your index finger do the hard work.