Only a couple of weeks into Trump's polarizing presidency, dating apps started noticing major changes in their users' behavior: OkCupid saw a 37% uptick in photo uploads from the same period last year. Her, the largest app for lesbian, bisexual, and queer women worldwide, noticed a huge increase in users and traffic, especially between January 22 and 29 of 2017. And eHarmony reported a 35% increase in communication since the election.
People tend to seek assurance in times of stress and instability. But when it comes to who they are seeking it from, it seems singles are increasingly flocking to those who are like-minded. LGBTQ+ people, in particular, have felt more marginalized since November 2016 after announcements like Trump's rollback of protections for transgender prisoners and the trans military ban.
Melissa Hobley, chief marketing officer at OkCupid, said this translates into more political filtering and an increase in politically charged discussion on the dating app.
"Those in the LGBTQ community are using political filters at unprecedented rates, and talking about politics on their profiles more than we have ever seen in the history of our brand," Hobley told Refinery29. "LGBTQ communities using political filters on OkCupid comes from the feeling that their rights are under attack by the current presidential administration. Many folks don't want to have the experience of talking to someone, going on a date, only to find that that they voted for Trump — because the stakes are very high."
Hobley said OkCupid has seen a 50% surge in LGBTQ+ singles talking about politics on their profiles from January 2017 to today. The top topics people are filtering for? Trump, gun violence, voting, and support of the ACLU.
That's why on Wednesday, Refinery29 is exclusively reporting, OkCupid and the ACLU launched the ACLU profile badge, which will be displayed on the profile of every member who has publicly responded "yes" to the question, "Do you support the ACLU?" Through the end of the summer, OkCupid will donate $1 to the ACLU for every user who sports the badge, to a maximum of $50,000. Similar to the Planned Parenthood badge the dating app rolled out in fall 2017, it'll let users filter out what the app's researchers say are some of today's biggest dating deal breakers.
The ACLU has defended the equal right to love in some of this country's most high-profile cases. Back in the 1960s, the organization represented Mildred and Richard Loving and helped strike down laws barring interracial marriage. In 2015, it helped win freedom for all to marry with the Obergefell v. Hodges decision. And just recently, it represented David Mullins and Charlie Craig, the gay couple that was turned away by a Colorado cake baker.
Ahead, seven LGBTQ+ people tell us about their experiences with dating in the Trump era. (Spoiler alert: Things have changed.)