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A new social media platform as a safe space for the queer community

A new app claims to be an inclusive space, where members from the LGBTQIA+ community can freely share moments from their personal and professional lives

The idea was to create a social media platform for the queer community’s professional, personal and universal use, founder Aayush Agrawal says.
The idea was to create a social media platform for the queer community’s professional, personal and universal use, founder Aayush Agrawal says. (Pexels)

Social media platforms never felt safe for 29-year-old Sameer*, a transman, who faced constant harassment. “It felt like I had to either hide my identity or face discrimination,” he says. The need for a community to express and just exist kept him on the lookout for an online space that didn’t feel exclusionary. Two weeks ago, he came across the Pride+ app, a social media platform exclusively for the LGBTQIA+ community and felt this could be it.

Launched on 20 February, the Pride+ app has been brought to life by founder and CEO, Aayush Agrawal, an ally of the LGBTQIA+ community. He wanted to create a space where people from the queer community didn’t have to feel anxious about sharing details about their lives, work, and identity. 

Also read: Are there safe spaces for the invisible queer disabled community?

From superficial diversity hiring at his last workplace and conversations with a colleague about the lack of clothing options for non-binary individuals to a queer influencer friend telling him about the hate messages flooding their inbox, the many rampant exclusionary practices often left Agrawal frustrated. So, in 2018, Agrawal came up with an idea for an app that could not only enable people from LGBTQIA+ to connect but also become a resource for finding jobs, shopping, and communities.

“The idea was to create a social media platform for the queer community’s professional and personal use. A place where they find their people, showcase their creativity, find work where they are treated right, and share moments from daily life without worrying about being bombarded by hate messages,” Agrawal says.

After multiple rejections from investors when Agrawal first pitched the idea in 2018, he decided to learn coding on his own and develop the app.

Screenshots of the Pride+ app
Screenshots of the Pride+ app (Pride+)

Currently the app has six features. Users get complimentary access to ‘trings’, where they can post life updates or share thoughts and people can like or comment, the jobs feature is all about employment opportunities, and the marketplace is for buying and selling merchandise and services from businesses run by queer members. People can also have one-on-one conversations through the chat option or can engage in group discussions using the chatroom feature.

Understanding the importance of mental health, Agrawal has also added meditation as a feature for people to pause for a few minutes. “I want to enable access to therapists and mental health professionals through the app but funding is currently an issue. In a world where queer people have to constantly push through a different fight every day, having access to mental health professionals is important so we hope to add that vertical soon,” Agrawal says.

Since its launch, the app has gained over 330 users from around 10 countries. Sameer, who is one of them, says he initially didn’t expect much from the app, but it surprised him. “Initially, I was curious but in the last two weeks, I have interacted with different people on the app and it has felt safe. It’s relief that you don’t have to hide who you are and can just let yourself be,” he says.

For another user, Premraj Jaiswal, 29, the social media platform as provided a sense of belonging and a supportive community that they can rely on. “You can not only embrace your identity but connect with others who understand their journey, and build lifelong friendships,” Jaiswal says.

Agrawal adds that the aim was to create a platform which is inclusive and doesn’t suppress identities or voices. “On Pride+, we see drag queens posting about their life and work, people forming communities to talk about pride marches, events, and even everyday life, and queer people share their stories freely,” he says.

Agrawal plans on adding more features to PRIDE+ which include education, events, therapy programs and a gender-fluid clothing line, among others. Adhering to the motto of the app, the hope is, Agrawal says, to make the world a better place.

The Pride+ app is available for Android and iOS users.

*Name changed for anonymity

Also read: How online communities helped LGBTQ+ folks after same-sex marriage verdict

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