Why LGBTQ Daters Have Better Luck Online

The gay bar has gone digital

Illustration: R. A. Di Ieso
May 26, 2016 at 1:08 PM ET

Two new studies from Match found that when it comes to love online (and finding it), your sexual orientation and gender identity can make a world of difference in your odds of succes. The surveys on being single and America and being a member of the LGBTQ community polled thousands of singles for insights into the dating patterns of Americans today. Across the board, LGBTQ survey respondents said they had dated someone they met online more often than heterosexual respondents. While only 36 and 33 percent of straight men and women said they have dated someone they met online, nearly two-thirds of transgender respondents had, with lesbian, gay, and bisexual singles falling within the middle.

“I think that if you’re a sexual or gender minority, going to the internet allows you to find someone else either like you or satisfies what you’re looking for,” said Justin R. Garcia, a professor of gender studies and scientific advisor to Match. “So if you’re in a small town and you’re a gay man or lesbian woman, there might not be that many other people like you around given your minority status. So going to the internet allows you to search your town, neighboring towns, a wider radius, and it allows you to pinpoint who it is you’re looking for.”

In addition to heightened specificity and convenience, Garcia also believes that safety plays a role in why LGBTQ individuals may be turning to the internet more readily than straight singles looking for dating partners online.

“If you can use the internet to potentially find a dating partner, it might be a lot safer than walking into a bar and potentially trying to pick someone up if you don’t know the… specific social context of that place,” he added.

More Your Scientific, Data-Driven Guide To Online Dating

For transgender singles, who reported meeting dating partners online at a higher rate than any other group, this issue is especially important. The “LGBTQ in America” portion of Match’s survey found that 61 percent of transgender singles tell their date about their identity as a trans person before first going out, something BuzzFeed contributor Raquel Willis explained in a personal essay about her dating life last year:

“I typically come out via text message or on my online profiles. It’s not very personal, but it lessens the possibility of a more life-threatening situation.”

Despite its logical appeal in terms of safety, the popularity of online dating among transgender singles was especially notable given well-documented difficulties that these daters have faced in the past, fielding issues like rejection and discrimination. While the survey did not specify where online transgender persons met their dating partners, there has been a marked change in dating service options.

Dozens of specialized dating sites and apps for the trans and gender non-conforming population as well as individuals that fall in other places on the spectrum of gender and sexuality have sprung up. And even generalized dating websites like OKCupid have finally caught up with the times, after some (perhaps unintentionally) discriminatory gaffes in the past, adding a plethora of different gender identities and sexual orientations to choose from.