When it comes to social media, I’m the stereotypical millennial. I still remember “My Humps” playing on my MySpace page, and as soon as I received my dot-edu email address I signed up for Facebook in its infancy. Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and a trio of gay dating apps followed.
But I recently drew a line in the sand, when I started seeing ads for Distinc.tt, a year-old social network aimed exclusively at the LGBTQ+ community. Why do we need our own digital watercooler? Can’t we just connect on mainstream social media?
Thing is, Distinc.tt has received significant praise. The Wall Street Journal dubbed it “the gay app you can bring home to Mom,” and Queerty described it as “in a different league from its randier counterparts.” This isn’t just a hookup app—Distinc.tt prides itself on having “zero headless torsos” (ahem, Grindr). It’s presented as a place to communicate with the LGBTQ+ community in a judgment-free zone.
In addition to presenting thoughtful discussion threads every time you sign on, the app’s news feed displays posts from everyone on the network, creating a truly global conversation about LGBTQ+ issues. Users offered their ears to strangers still in the closet. One pansexual user started a discussion about denying love based on gender, and a straight user sought advice on dating a transgender woman. Unlike so much of the commentary on social media, these dialogues were intelligent, supportive and real.
Browsing Distinc.tt didn’t exactly convert me (I’ve been out for more than a decade, and have a great support system), but I appreciate its value for others—specifically those who might still be in the closet or confused about sexual orientation or gender identity. And I like the idea of engaging like-minded people in conversation without the assumption that I want to take their clothes off.