Tuesday, Jul 16, 2019 | Last Update : 09:26 AM IST

The quest ends

THE ASIAN AGE. | PRATYUSHA CHATTERJEE
Published : Jun 16, 2019, 1:35 am IST
Updated : Jun 16, 2019, 1:35 am IST

Online dating apps have surfaced in a new avatar where people from all spectrums of life are equally welcome.

With members of the community, loved ones and the media bringing LGBTQ+ issues into the mainstream, there is a growing sensitivity, understanding and perhaps most importantly, visibility for inclusion of the community.
 With members of the community, loved ones and the media bringing LGBTQ+ issues into the mainstream, there is a growing sensitivity, understanding and perhaps most importantly, visibility for inclusion of the community.

Finding a compatible canine partner has never been easy. But now the process becomes a lot more hassle-free for those who are social media friendly. Tinder has recently launched an additional feature for Indian users where one is allowed to foster, adopt, donate or volunteer for a pet. According to the data collected from WHO, there are approximately 35 million stray dogs in India amongst which 1 out of 12 are put up for adoption. And the case is not only for strays.  Domestic animals that have lost their purpose to serve for their owners face a fate which any animal lover will never want to imagine even in their wildest of dreams.

Social media has become a platform, which gains attention from people belonging to various castes, creeds and backgrounds. But one must also keep in mind that the vast platform is not only for connecting with people all across the world. Finding a new pet member for family is now as as easy as catching a date.

The good news doesn’t end here. People who have been victims of social bullying for being members of the rainbow community are finally getting the liberty to come out of their shells and find their partners through the online platform as well. Melissa Hobley, CMO, OkCupid, a renowned dating app, shares her views on the same. She says, “OkCupid was founded in 2004 by Harvard mathematicians who believed in the power of questions to lead you to meaningful connections. This belief in meaningful connections exited, even back then, beyond the binary understanding of gender and love. We truly believe that everyone deserves the right to love whomever they choose and express themselves in the way that feels most authentic.” The platform was initially built on the principle of celebrating individuals in all their glorious, quirky detail to truly match with somebody who understands your beliefs, values and treasures you for you. It is the first major dating app to create a space for members to declare their pronouns on the platform. You can select or write your pronoun by going to the respective field on your profile. Pick from he/him, she/her, they/them, or type in any pronoun of your choice.

Speaking about the origination of the concept, Melissa says, “The thought itself originated from our belief that sexuality and gender is more than binary. As a platform that celebrates inclusivity and diversity, we had initially introduced 13 orientations and currently we allow users to choose from 18 sexual orientations and 22 gender options. Furthermore, there are three places on the app where you can choose who you are looking for, and how you'd like your profile to be shown: your profile details, the ‘Looking For’ part of your profile, and your basic information.

This is how we enthusiastically welcome people of all orientations and gender identities to create a holistic environment for everyone to find like-minded potential matches.”

Since the inception, the team has always strived to create an inclusive platform for people from all walks of life and across all genders. The app is designed for people seeking meaningful connections, hence most of their work has always been focused on the product itself and adding questions that inform the algorithm. The virtual dating platform ensures the algorithm makes connections based on the answers and preferences shared by the users and these are further contextualised by location, gender identity, and cultural realities.

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This focus on the quality of matches has earned an overwhelming response from the LGBTQ community who are on the platform to find meaningful connections like any other user on the app. After all, ‘love is love’ and we truly believe in connecting you with somebody who shares your beliefs, values and respects your opinions to truly connect with.

 Across the world, there is a growing respect for people to be able to express themselves. This freedom of expression extends to gender identities. With members of the community, loved ones and the media bringing LGBTQ+ issues into the mainstream, there is a growing sensitivity, understanding and perhaps most importantly, visibility for inclusion of the community. Taking the context of our nation, the Supreme Court’s decision last year to scrap Article 377 has taken the country and its people on a journey of celebrating love beyond binary gender norms. The landmark judgement introduced us to countless stories that have remained uncelebrated for too long, with individuals across lines coming out in support of the community, garnering much needed attention. As a platform which celebrates you for who you are, we have our own story amongst users all over the world who have found their matches on the platform irrespective of gender or cultural differences.

Talking about their plan on contributing more towards building a better future for these people, the spokesperson openly shares, “We have celebrated inclusivity in our app since 2009 and we will always strive to be a diverse, inclusive platform where people can be themselves and tell their stories authentically, whatever the story might be.”

As more people turn to dating apps to find love and companionship, it is an oath for the app development team to continue and make the experience more customised for each individual user. She adds, “The heart of OkCupid is the algorithm and the questions that inform it so for us the challenge will always be to make sure we’re adding the right questions based on serious and topical subjects to help people match on what matters to them. We are constantly incorporating feedback from our users in the community to make the best possible product to empower every person looking to find meaningful, lasting relationships.”

On the other hand, Neha Panchamiya, Founder and President of RESQ, says “thousands of pets, if not more, get abandoned each year in India. A campaign like this will greatly help our Rehoming Centre Dogs get the exposure they need and help people become aware that rescued pets not just need homes, but that adopting one from a place that actively works on them, can make your pet experience great. All our dogs are cared for, trained and taught good canine citizen skills before they go to their forever homes! We thank Tinder for this opportunity to help spread the word about rescued pets!”

Taru Kapoor, GM, India-Tinder also shares, “Tinder stands up for the choices of a whole generation and how they choose to live their lives, and this includes standing up for things they care about. We are all about having users find a match on Tinder, and this time it’s with a cause. We’re pledging to drive user registration for pets so organisations have a wider network. We know the power of community, and are committed to extending it so pets in need can benefit this National Pet Adoption Day.”

It is truly said that love has no boundaries. And as it seems, the world has definitely started to understand the fact finally. With dating apps being in the forefront of acceptance, we are quite sure that the parts of the reality who are yet to follow the path of acceptance, will find their way towards building an equal world for all holding the hands of this virtual guide.

Tags: lgbtq community, article 377