Though depictions of homosexuality continue to be widely censored in Chinese TV and film, a recent boom in gay dating app users has sparked the interest of at least one state-controlled media group in the form of a multi-million dollar investment.
Blued, China’s largest gay dating service, announced last week that it was receiving “tens of millions” of renminbi (several million US dollars) in investment from The Beijing News, a state-run newspaper.
The popular app had already received $30 million in its second round of funding in 2014, so the investment from the news group has put Blued’s total valuation at $300 million.
“The gay business is a piece of virgin territory in China, and we hope to become a leader of this lucrative market,” Blued founder Geng Le said this summer. “The substantial spending ability of gays and the funding support we got indicate the strong power of the so-called pink economy.”
As of last year, 27 million men had created accounts on Blued with 7 million users logging in every day, giving it more regular logins than Grindr.
Zank, Blued’s main competitor, counts at least 10 million registered users and Lesdo, an app for gay and bisexual women, has 1.5 million.
While these apps might be growing in popularity, attitudes toward the country’s LGBT community continue to be less than tolerant.
Early last year, the China Alliance of Radio, Film and Television released a new set of guidelines banning inappropriate sexual behavior on TV, including incest, sexual assault, adultery, one-night-stands and homosexuality. Two months later, a gay couple faced immense backlash for publicly declaring their love on their college campus.