This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Avinaba Dutta. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

This Indian Queer Dating App Hopes To Make Things Inclusive For All Sexualities!

More from Avinaba Dutta

Hey, I feel something very unusual after chatting with you. Guess I am in love. Do you feel the same?

About 13 years ago, I sent this message to a guy with the id ‘lonely_heart’ on Yahoo! Messenger. The application has now become history, but back then, it was probably the only platform where people with alternative sexualities could meet. My conversation with him lasted for a few hours and included multiple moments of adrenalin rush. “Me 2 gay 1000000%” – he typed in. And thus taught me how multiple zeroes somehow reaffirmed our sexualities beyond doubt. This was also the first time I had those proverbial butterflies in my stomach you get on meeting someone you might like.

I narrated this story during my first informal conversation with the co-founders and volunteers of ‘Amour,’ an online dating project. Srini, one of the founders, added: “You see, our society uses this well-experimented template of marriage as a benchmark for a successful life – of course you try to look for ‘love’ in whoever you first interact with. The luxury to choose is not a reality for queer folks yet.

But that has to change.

Which is why in May this year, Srini, along with Dolly and Karan launched their all-inclusive dating space for the queer community. Individuals need to fill up s form to create their profiles – each scanned by moderators Deepti, Andy and Shilok – before they can join Amour’s curated Facebook community. And in the spirit of inclusion there are five language options – English, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, and Telugu – and the translation work on Bengali and Tamil is in progress. “Guess that’s the reason Amour got several profiles from non-metro cities within just few months,” says my friend Prasenjit.

Amour essentially arranges physical gatherings in different cities for individuals across the gender and sexuality spectrum. In co-founder Karan’s words, “‘Amour’ is much more than a matrimonial or dating space. It’s a community driven platform to bring together queer individuals, from the whole spectrum, across India; thereby increasing the inclusivity coefficient of the community and empowering individuals with information and experience sharing.”

Co-Founder Dolly pointed out how not only different sexual and gender identities but various types of companionship have also been included in Amour’s form, “A cisgender homosexual man looking for a monogamous relationship must not be allowed to dictate the type of relationships maybe a transgender pansexual man or a genderqueer asexual person or even another cisgender homosexual man/woman are looking for.”

Struggling to understand how on earth it is even feasible to have a space for so many permutations and combination of identities, I said: “But if you try to name every possible type of partnership/relationship, the sky’s your limit!” Karan quickly added “And that’s why the form has a ‘Will work it out with my partner(s)’ option under the ‘type of partnership’ column.”

It’s all of this that makes Amour very different from other online dating spaces. Explains Karan: “What is startling about all those queer dating apps or sites out on the internet, from the gay-centric Grindr and PlanetRomeo, to a women-only app called ‘Dattch’, is that while rolling out the red carpet for one or more than one gender and/or sexual identities, they weed out various other identities.

There is a global phenomenon of dating apps being highly selective – from “no Asian, no black, no Muslims” to “no fems, no fat, no oldies.” Andy, one of Amour’s moderators, also commented on keeping this space open: “It just felt wrong. Offensive profile write-ups like ‘Only North Indian fair dudes can message me for a long-term relationship’ are often confusing and allow inter-community hate to become commodities that we can proudly display, like we’re so advanced as a community that we can laugh about stuff like this. We can’t. We’re not even close to that point yet.”

Look, we are not asking anyone to be pretentious about the type(s) of people they like,” said Shilok, the other moderator. “But we will stand up against every possible attempt to make Amour a homonormative space that encourages different shaming tactics.”

Moderators must monitor any discriminatory words against an individual and identity, “Keeping sanity is our only aim,” said Deepti. Her rejoinder made me understand how seriously team Amour takes bigotry.

Gina, who created her profile a month ago, also shared her experience. “One of the amazing things about Amour is you can see how more and more queer people are transcending boundaries without being invasive.” As an individual who had been transsexed at birth, Gina has always been very open about her gender identity and how she was brought up as boy, however she found that often people on other dating apps wanted to “experiment” with her. But on Amour, nothing like this has happened so far.

Indeed, many profiles on Amour are openly defying the “genitalization” of one’s sexual orientation, or “sexualization” of dating. This means individuals on Amour who identify as cisgender homosexual men are open to dating transgender men or an asexual person based on mutual understanding. Many profiles also chose “polyamory” over “monogamy” or “open relationship,” and this is bound to create ripples. Somewhere it will challenge the dominant version of ‘normativity.’

The queer dating space so far has been dominated by cisgender gay men, which can put off many other LGBTQ identities. So it’s important that Amour is trying to change that.

From those Yahoo! Messenger days where people were talked to a faceless profile from another hemisphere, to today’s Grindr or Tinder days where even a few blocks is quite a distance for many, dating in the time of GPS has led to a massive paradigm shift in what people are looking for.

In India, where the LGBTQIA+ movement is quite urban-centric and often dubbed as classist and Anglophonic, it leaves a vast queer population out of it. So Amour is indeed a revolution. It gives people options which can successfully break every boundary – class, caste, age, language, religion, gender, sexuality, ability. As Amour plans to launch an app a few months from now, we are now one-step closer to that bright future where individuals might have profile write-ups like “I am a self-constructed construction. Wanna reconstruct something together?

Update: This line published originally as ‘”However,” Gina says, “we must prevent Amour from quickly becoming another cisgender gay male-dominated space”‘ has been edited to “The queer dating space so far has been dominated by cisgender gay men, which can put off many other LGBTQ identities. So it’s important that Amour is trying to change that” on the author’s request.

You must be to comment.

More from Avinaba Dutta

Similar Posts

By Tania Mitra

By Kunal Gupta

By Ritushree

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below