In the face of hatred and violence directed towards the LGBTQ+ community, many queer people not only stay closeted, but have begun to use gay dating apps as a way of making friends and finding mutual others.
However, the safety of these apps has been questioned, with numerous cases of assaults taking place, including a June case with survivor Holden White.
White believes that since being queer is not generally accepted in the South, most LGBTQ+ youth never receive the proper preparation from their parents on how to be safe on these apps and resort to learning from bad experiences.
“Yeah, it could be dangerous in some certain ways. Because some parents that are accepting will teach their children the right ways, but the ones who don’t have these parents, they basically have to learn from online. And that’s what I did,” White said.
Unsafe situations are almost too easy to occur in these circumstances, according to the activism officer of LSU’s Spectrum, Sebastian Owens. Remaining anonymous on these apps is understandable if somebody has not come out yet, but it can also be used as a means to harm others.
“I understand, you know, ‘We want to keep this on the low because it’s the South,’ but it’s also like, are you trying to keep this on the low and you’re not posting any pictures of yourself because you’re not actually who you’re saying you are? Or is it just ‘I want to keep myself safe?’” Owens said.
While these apps have features like expiring pictures that a recipient can’t screenshot in an effort to prevent identity theft, they’re usually a limited amount, unless one makes a substantial payment.
LSU student and user of these outlets, Jack Dixon, says that until these apps make more of an effort to protect the people they profit off of, everyone within the LGBTQ+ community has the responsibility to keep one another safe as always.
“The best way for queer people to take care of one another is to do what we’ve been doing since the beginning of time, just looking out for each other. Look out for you queer brothers and sisters and non-binary siblings," Dixon said.
"Look out for yourself. It’s up to us to educate ourselves about the dangers of social media itself as well as these dating apps," he continued.
While the LSU Police Department has not responded yet to the initial request for a comment, leaders and students around campus are doing their part to ensure the safety of the youth within the LGBTQ+ community.