Believe it or not, China has a vibrant LGBT app scene where a number of dating apps are serving the estimated tens of millions of people in the LGBT community in China. Even though the authorities have released regulations in 2016 to ban portrayal of homosexual relationships on television dramas and web series (in Chinese), the LGBT dating app sector has been burgeoning nonetheless.
Here are the latest networking apps catering to the LGBT community in China.
Born out of LGBT NGO Danlan, Blued was launched in 2012 and has since pocketed six rounds of financing with the latest C++ round from the investment arm of The Beijing News, a state-backed newspaper group.
Blued boasts over 27 million registered users, about 20% of which are overseas users, according to its official website. The China-born app is ambitiously eyeing overseas market in particular. It has opened offices in Europe and Southeast Asia, covering over 190 countries and regions, and is available in 11 languages. In December 2016, Blued even made a strategic investment with US dating app Hornet in an attempt to make forays into North American and Latin American markets. As a part of the deal, Blued invested an undisclosed sum as an extension of the $8 million Series A Hornet announced in November 2016.
On the other hand, Blued has made profits thanks to the thriving live streaming feature and its mobile marketing business. For the growth of the live streaming sector in 2016, Blued ranked the 13th among all the Chinese apps (of all verticals) which had live streaming features, according to a Cheetah Global Lab’s report released earlier this year.
However, there’s one thing that the app needs to be more mindful for the live streaming feature: Zank, Blued’s past rival, got closed down (in Chinese) by the authorities in April due to its explicit content during live streaming and has yet to re-open.
LESDO (乐Do) is arguably the largest lesbian dating app in China, boasting 1.5 million users. Founded by a team of gay women, the startup launched in 2012, and the app came out in 2013.
In 2014, the app got angel funding from GSR Ventures, and the next year landed millions of US dollars of pre-A financing led by IVP, SOSVentures, and Linear.
LESDO is not just a social networking app. It has also created its own web dramas. Its 34-minute mini-movie, Miss You Always, has been watched 1.36 million times on iQiyi, China’s major video streaming site.
Aloha is a social networking app designed for gay men. Picking up the “swipe” feature from Tinder, users swipe left for “nope” and right for “aloha” to get matched with other nearby men.
Aloha, Blued’s major rival in China, is especially known for its friendly UI design for photo sharing, making it more than a dating app with Tinder and Instagram-like features rolled into one.
LesPark (拉拉公园), the major rival of LESDO, is a dating app catering to gay women. The app is known for its live streaming feature and has millions of registered users.
It’s worth noting that LesPark’s parent company also rolled out an LGBT “marriage service” app, Queers, a networking app for gay and lesbians to find partners for sham marriages or “marriages of convenience.”
Rolled out in December 2012, the L is one of the major lesbian location-based dating apps in China.
It’s interesting to note that the L has also produced its own web drama to bring in more users just like LESDO. The company in 2015 released The L Bang, which depicts the story of the daily lives of a few young women who get to know each other through the L and proceed to live together in a big city in China.