Kristen Kilpatrick

Bumble Invests In New Gay Dating App

The creators of Chappy say their app is like the "anti-Grindr."

Bumble, the dating app that allows women to make the first move, announced this week that it’s investing in Chappy, a new app for gay and bisexual men who want an alternative to the Grindr meat market.

Young man texting on smart phone
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Based in the U.K., the service allows men to define what they’re looking for: “Mr. Right” or “Mr. Right Now.” Not sure if you’re looking for a hookup or a soulmate? You can set your default to “Mr. Who Knows.”

“We’re more focused on meaningful connections,” Ollie Locke, the co-founder of Chappy, tells Inc.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 30:  Ollie Locke attends the Emporio Armani Diamonds Fragrance launch at The Ace Hotel on June 30, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Emporio Armani)
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Locke, a cast member on the UK reality series Made in Chelsea who came out as gay this year, argues that apps like Grindr turn gay men into “objects.”

Cofounder Jack Rogers agrees, adding his experience on the site compelled him to “stay in the closet.”

“The most striking thing about Grindr is that it’s all so negative,” says Rogers, who previously worked for the lifestyle app Grabble. “I downloaded it once, and within about an hour I had d*ck pics coming through.”

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The two hope to challenge the stigma associated with gay dating by giving men a better platform to connect.

Bumble is well-positioned to help them meet that goal: The company was created by Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe as a response to the widespread harassment that women reported when using dating apps. Her service combats that problem by preventing men from communicating with female matches, unless the woman has contacted them first. (Women have 24 hours after matching with a potential suitor to get in touch, or the connection is gone.)

Bumble has, however, struggled to integrate same-sex dating into its interface. (AfterEllen called the app “irrelevant” for LGBT daters.)

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 11:  Co-founder and CEO of Bumble Whitney Wolfe speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016 at Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on May 11, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch)
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Wolfe said that while her goal has always been to challenge heteronormativity, which she said “is not normal at all,” she realizes that Bumble — and other dating apps — have a long way to go when it comes to inclusion. Tinder recently announced that it would be giving trans community 37 different gender options on the app, an update that came after reports that transgender people were commonly blocked from the service.

“Gay marriage is legal now, thank God,” Wolfe told Inc., “and I think the dating landscape has not provided that same type of acceptance.” She says she’s excited to bring Silicon Valley into 2017.

“Bumble is passionate about helping people connect confidently, safely and in an environment where they feel empowered,” a company rep told TechCrunch. “Chappy shares this same values and has created a product for an audience that week feel is very underserved. Bumble has made great strides for women in the dating space, and we believe Chappy will do the same for gay men.”

Chappy has yet to announce a launch date, but the company is allowing users to sign up for the service early through Facebook.

Nico Lang is a staff writer at INTO, where he covers politics, international LGBTQ issues, and the Amy Adams beat.
@Nico_Lang