Until you find your queer tribe, being queer and trying to figure out who you are may be a lonely, daunting experience. To have access to LGBT groups online and an LGBT Community Online to whom you can turn for assistance, validation, comfort, or just a hug makes a huge difference for queer people. It can be hard to meet LGBT friends online after coming out, and being surrounded by straight friends who want to help but are unable to do anything can be draining. We’ve worked out that gay dating apps or LGBT youth dating apps in India aren’t always the best places to find friendship because they simply want you to swipe and read profiles.
It also doesn’t help that as you come out and figure out queer stuff, your friendships with your cis-het friends may alter, leading to you feeling lonely and alienated. You might eventually come across members of the LGBT online community on social media platforms such as Instagram or Facebook, but this can be a time-consuming process that also depends on how secure and trustworthy these platforms are. It’s even more difficult if you don’t know how to negotiate these spaces, especially if you’re still in the closet and unprepared to come out to the rest of the world.
So, why is it so important to have a LGBT online community and be connected if you are queer and in India?
Queer people, especially in their early years of self-discovery, require a supportive LGBT online community. Even if one is seeking therapy to work things out, a therapist cannot replace the support provided by an LGBT online community. It’s critical to be able to express how you feel about things with individuals who understand and validate your feelings. Friendships that give a support network are essential for one’s mental wellness.
The ability to converse about your feelings with a non-judgmental friend or group of friends is possibly the most important benefit of friendships. Sometimes just being able to express yourself is enough, and if it isn’t, you’ll find support and other find LGBT friends who are open about their feelings. It’s a great relief to realise you’re not alone in your emotions. It is important to have friends who understand your emotions and what you’re going through. It can help you stop taking yourself so seriously, and laughing, sharing, and communicating can all help us feel better.
When you’re going through something bad, it might take on a different meaning when you discuss it with your pals. There could be a humorous side to it that you haven’t seen before. Because many of our queer journeys and experiences are similar, being a queer can be made much simpler if you can share and talk about your experiences with others who may be going through the same thing.
After launching our queer dating App last year June, we have realised a lot of you are looking for more than just dating. There are a lot of you looking for avenue build long term friendships and have a sense of community while feeling safe. With an aim to meet you where you are at, we have launched our LGBT online community, WE Community – another avenue for you to engage with the larger Indian queer community.
Take part in discussions, share your thoughts, or start your own discussion on the “WE, As You Are Community”. Bring your true queer self to the judgment-free zone to engage in authentic conversations, connect with like-minded individuals and meet LGBT friends online.
LGBT Youth and Need for an Gay Online Community
As per a new recent report by Nielsen, about 2/3rd of Internet users in India are aged between 12-29 yrs and this age group corresponds to more than 70% of Internet users in rural India. Of this 2/3rd a good percentage of them maybe LGBTQ+ youth who use online spaces to find themselves and their LGBT online community. Once someone comes out it is important that they have safe and affirming experiences while on the internet.
LGBT youth may go online to find out more about their thoughts and feelings, while also wanting to learn more about their sexual orientation and gender identity. The internet sometimes can be a place for LGBTQ+ youth to find peers with shared identities, meet LGBT friends online, while also receive affirming support from others without judgement.
However, because of the volume of hate speech that goes unmoderated on social media, LGBTQ+ youth are frequently bullied online. On social media, they may also be exposed to negative messages about their body image and identity. LGBTQ youth are nearly three times as likely as their heterosexual, cisgender peers to be harassed online. As a result of cyberbullying, 66% of sexual minorities report sadness, and 35% have suicidal thoughts.
Here are our 5 Best Tips for finding your LGBT Community in India:
1. Support Groups for LGBT community in India
If you are out and want to meet other LGBT people in your city, most major cities have support groups in the country. A lot of these places have online Facebook groups where you can interact with the members and find LGBT friends before you attend an offline meeting or event. But if you are someone living in a city or town that does not have a support group, it can be exhausting to keep looking for a safe LGBT online community to make friends.
If is perfectly fine to want to look for LGBT online community while you are still in the closeted. But if you are someone still in the closet and not yet ready to come out, it can be difficult to find safe online spaces where your identity can be protected while you are trying to make friends.
Depending on gay dating apps in India to make friends is not always safe or fruitful. A lot of people on LGBT dating apps or LGBT meeting apps in India are typically looking to hook up or to look for a partner. Most apps for LGBT youth are built to push you to meeting some one in a romantic setting rather than make it easy for conversations that will help build friendships and meet LGBT friends online.
2. Gay Dating Apps India
Gay dating apps are not always a great place to start friendships. Most gay dating apps are focused on appearances and some times it might be daunting to start conversations, we understand that! With focus on how one looks and the pressure on the apps to find “the one” it isn’t always easy start a conversation to build friendship. There will be expectation mismatch and lukewarm responses can further harm your confidence level.
For lesbians, transgender women and other minorities, there is further the risk of getting blackmailed or face harassment on some of the unsafe LGBT meeting apps and LGBT dating apps where sometimes there is risk of cismen posing as women. There are enough cases of extortion and catfishing on the gay dating apps in india that has a scared a huge part of the LGBT community and lot of them are wary of these gay dating apps.
At As You Are, we have launched our dating App — AYA (As You Are), exclusively for Indian queer individuals to give safe space for the LGBTQ community. Over the last one year we have realised that Indian community needs more than a dating app and that there are a lot of you looking for avenue to make friends. We have launched out online community, WE Community – another avenue for you to engage with the larger Indian queer community.
On the WE community, you can part in discussions, share your thoughts, or start your own discussion on the “WE, As You Are Community”. Bring your true queer self to the judgment-free zone to engage in authentic conversations and connect with like-minded individuals.
3. LGBT Facebook Groups
Going to support meetings meant for LGBT community in India can be intimidating, especially fir the first time. A lot of the major cities have Facebook groups that are mostly closed and private where one can freely interact with the queer community in their city before having to go to these meetings in person. In person LGBT meetings can be much easier if you are confident, but for someone who has just come out, the online LGBT groups are sometimes a blessing.
Conversations on these groups can be validating and help you find your tribe, who match with your opinions and ideas. Since these LGBT groups online are private and closed, getting on these groups might need a certain amount of research and understanding the platform before you get the opportunity to get on the group and conversations.
It is perfectly ok if you are not ready to come out yet and are still in the closet, but you need to make sure you understand the technology enough to safeguard your profile from unwanted people finding out your participation on the groups. As safe as these Facebook groups are, to trust the space and engage in these online LGBT groups where you trust your identity can be protected while you are trying to make friends can be tough.
4. Going to events by LGBT community
Every year June, there are events celebrating LGBT Pride Month all over the country. There are usually events apart from the actual Pride March. Some cities have pride events in months apart from June also. There are surveys that show that pride events are important for LGBT community and to make society more accepting. It also helps LGBT community people to gather and celebrate.
There are various events by LGBT groups during the pride month including cultural events, theatre plays, film festivals, pride march, carnivals and panel discussions. What ever your interests are and whatever you are passionate about, these events are spaces where one can meet people from the community and build friendships. Apart from these even which are predominantly during the pride month, there are events in major cities that happened throughout the year.
Some universities and MNCs have official support groups for LGBT community as a part of their diversity and inclusion programs. If you are out at your work places these places can be quite beneficial to look for support and friendships.
5. Presence of Queer people other than Gay Men
While online platforms for LGBT community have been developing for two decades, a large part of the digital spaces catering to LGBT online community are predominantly occupied by cis-gay men. This includes most LGBT dating apps and LGBT meeting apps too!
Transgender people, lesbian, and other minorities are usually not out in numbers due to the fear of discrimination or because some times they are still in the closet. There are LGBT groups online specifically meant to cater to Transgender people, lesbian, and other minorities. These spaces are well moderated and kept safe, and sometimes are not open for all, making it slightly hard for someone who is still in the closet to have access to these online LGBT groups.
LGBT Community Online
For many Indian LGBT individuals, especially those queer individuals living in small or more rural areas, technology has made it effortless to find other LGBT people in their community. There are communities that are formed on Instagram pages, YouTube comments or Quora groups. These sometimes becomes a safe place to discuss the challenges queer individuals face and sometimes there are people who find a sense of online community in these spaces. There is still a lot of discrimination, hatred and trolling that one can risk facing even in these gay online communities and while trying to meet LGBT friends online.
Globally there is a lot of acceptance but Indian still there still lot of hesitation and discrimination against LGBT people and those who decide to come out as an LGBT supporter. Connectedness is essential for mental wellness, especially for queer individuals. If you can’t get out to see people in person, you can meet and speak with pals online and form online friendships that are much easier to transition into real-life friendships.