Gayes, are you exhausted from being disappointed by dating apps? Of swiping? Of people not being clear with their intentions? What if the dating experience was no longer solely based on looks and was based more on trying to find people you are actually compatible, whether romantic or platonic?
BeTrueBU (Be True Be You) is a service for LGBTQ dating and connections for out women of color. The name comes from living out and proud, and the site is meant to be a space for Black women to find a connection without having to worry about keeping their relationship a secret.
"It's not just about looks, that's a point that I want to make. If you just need more gay friends, this is a site to come to, because I'm going to put you with somebody, you want to hang out with," Founder Sean Crenshaw tells Gaye.
Founder S. Crenshaw came out later in life at the age of 40 after being married to a man. She reveals she created the site after growing frustrated with her experience on dating sites, and after doing some research, she discovered that it wasn't just her. She then created BeTrueBU in the interest of members joining not only for romance, but to build their inner circle of LGBTQ community members.
"The second I realized that I was was going to do this, I had no regrets and I had no fear. And as soon as I accepted who I was, my life just got better. Everything just got better. I met better people and I was just like, 'You know, you've got to be yourself. You're not on this earth to be what other people want you to be.'
While the site is meant for out LGBTQ women of color, Crenshaw does not mean to dissuade people who are not 100% out.
"Anybody that's not out, you have a reason," Crenshaw said.
"And if I would have come out one second before I wanted to, I wouldn't have been able to do it. So, this isn't about saying bad things or not inviting people that are not out, but I feel like people that live out, they make a lot of sacrifices sometimes. They go through losing support; they lose family members, they lose friends, depending on what country, you can lose your job or your life. So I think that when you make a lot of sacrifices like that. You deserve to be with somebody that is out that can walk with you."
Crenshaw made sure to actively avoid swiping in the service.
"It's really judgmental, it seems like it's just an action but I literally think of it as you throwing somebody away."
To help achieve a more holistic approach to online dating, BeTrueBU's questionnaire and profile interface are different than your typical dating service.
The questions are designed to figure out if whether you are an extrovert, an introvert or someone in the middle. Instead of stressing out of what pictures of yourself to use, BeTrueBU is designed to help find someone to meet your life purpose.
Once the questionnaire is finished, other people on the service will see your life purpose or goals before they ever see your picture.
"Everything is just focused on what somebody looks like," Crenshaw said. "I mean how many of us right now have dated somebody where we first saw what they were like, we were like, 'Okay, they're okay.' And then when we got to know them, they turned into the most beautiful person ever, because their soul was beautiful."
OKCupid co-founder Christian Rudder found that there was a clear racial bias amongst its users in 2014. Studying over 25 million users on the app and charting their racial and gender preferences starting back from 2009, he found incredibly damaging information.
Rudder's internal study results revealed that in OKCupid's Quickmatch feature, rating potential dates on a scale of 1 to 5 or to skip them, Black women, Black men and Asian men got the worst ratings.
With this in mind, Crenshaw designed the dating site's functionality to be inclusive by reinforcing the idea of finding someone you actually want to spend time with, while hoping that it also eases anxiety of any user uncomfortable with photographs.
"I'm trying to put them with somebody that they would like to hang out with on a day to day basis," Crenshaw said. "And then if you find love. That's great."
Crenshaw and her daughter collaborated on BeTrueBU to better serve their community and empower LGBTQ women of color.
"It's for all the women of color in the LGBT community, so that they can meet somebody and think about it," Crenshaw said.
"It's an intellectual stimulation, if you will. And it is about meeting people that you can grow with network with or even, you know, fall in love with...I'm just trying to create a safe place for us to meet each other. And then again, create some real relationships because sometimes we can get stuck in relationships, whether it's friendships or otherwise, that we kind of have outgrown."
A mobile app is planned to be released by the end of the year, but users can create their profiles and begin dating now on the BeTrueBU website.
All new users get a 30-day free trial with memberships ranging from $15-$25. The site's $25 membership comes with access to monthly speed dating and first access to other special events.