As a formally closeted gay Black kid being raised by a Catholic mama in the south, I’m all too familiar with using the internet to explore worlds — and, subsequently, people different than me. Likewise, as a non-straight person who witnessed the country transition from instituting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to legalizing marriage equality (and keenly aware of the lingering prejudices against LGBTQ folks), I know how helpful dating apps can be for those longing to forge a connection with another person.
Thanks to broadband internet, phones that double as minicomputers and, most of all, less stigmatization around online dating, seemingly every straight has joined the rest of us of using apps to help us secure love and sex. We all want a connection and to quote Ronnie from The Players Club, “You’ve got to use what you got to get what you want.”
However, in recent months, there have been a few new dating apps that suggest that some would rather stick to the rivers and lakes that they’re used to, rather than find someone new who could potentially expand their outlook on life and love.
In recent months, there have been a few new dating apps that suggest that some would rather stick to the rivers and lakes that they’re used to, rather than find someone new who could potentially expand their outlook on life and love.
That feels a little “Sad!” as the current resident of the White House would say — but, then, there is the app TrumpDating. When its launch was was announced in February, its homepage claimed, “We believe that by matching patriotic and political viewpoints as a foundation of the relationship, it will allow one to focus on what really matters — conversation, commonalities and if all goes well, courting.”
It's not a unique thought: There is also the site Trump Singles, which shares a similar vision. But while some Tinder users might applaud conservatives keeping to themselves, others have noted that it's entirely possible (and, given some conservative men, even preferable) to date more broadly.
But for other megalomaniac enthusiasts, there is a dating app called Yeezy.Dating, "for the fans of the genius Mr Kanye West." It is presently in soft launch, and though one might worry that Kanye's embrace of Donald Trump and subsequent embrace by conservatives could make for strange bedfellows, now that West has new music on the horizon, the user base could return to the one initially envisioned, and possibly for the better. After all, who better to understand one Kanye West stan than another?
Now, I will admit that, when it comes to Donald Trump, my tolerance for difference is tested to the max.
The first time I heard of Yeezy.Dating, I thought a better business model would be a dating site for Beyoncé fans, partly because I don’t trust people who don’t like Beyoncé, and partly because it's very important for me to know how prospective love interests rank Beyoncé’s albums. ("I Am...Sasha Fierce" cannot be your favorite and, if you say that it is, I would assume you’re a Russian bot who managed to escape Twitter.)
But when I thought a little more about it, and I'm not so sure. Do I really need someone to love Beyoncé as much as I do? I wouldn’t want to go out with a person who absolutely hates her — who would raise kids with such a monster? — but if he said that he respects her as "an entertainer" and respected me nearly as much, think what I could be missing out on.
Now, I will admit that, when it comes to Donald Trump, my tolerance for difference is tested to the max: I’m Black and I’m gay, so this current administration ain’t exactly in line with my politics. But, while I’ll be damned if I will date a deplorable, if you asked me whether I would go out with a Republican, my response would be “How much of a snack is he?”
The reality that requiring such specificity may come back to bite one in the behind.
If I'm being really honest, I do turn into Ted Cruz for a week after every April 15th and I have found kinship with Nicolle Wallace and Steve Schmidt, so I’d be willing to at least try dating a real conservative. But if I logged onto a dating app called “I Hate All Republicans,” chances are that any potential potential boo might never surface, because Republicans would be hanging out elsewhere. (Where, I couldn't say. A polo club? A golf course? A circle of hell? Someone who knows, please advise.)
Everyone certainly has the right to preference, including ones different than mine — but note that I said preference, rather than inherent bias. There's no excuse for folks who guise their sexual racism with the “It’s just my preference” line. Religious beliefs (or lack thereof), political leanings and taste all matter, but the modern history of successful relationships suggests that they are not the end all be all.
Single life can be rough, so we probably shouldn't create even more barriers to finding that someone who could be perfect for us even if he or she doesn't have identical interests
Religious beliefs (or lack thereof), political leanings and taste all matter, but the modern history of successful relationships suggests that they are not the end all be all.
The more niche our dating apps get, the greater the risk we all run of merely recreating our respective bubbles. The best thing about the internet is that it connects people from all over the world. To now use it to recreate our existing silos would make all of us even more disconnected from each other.
And then, of course, there is the reality that requiring such specificity may come back to bite one in the behind.
A few months ago, I’m sure plenty of Kanyettes thought it would be a fun, novel idea to only date fellow Kanyettes. Then came Kanye West’s declaration that he “loves” Donald Trump, is a “free thinker” (which loosely translates to “I don’t read and I’m gullible to YouTube conspiracy videos published by far right wingers") and all of that other mess he’s spouted on Twitter that has since made him a darling of the so called alt-right. So what are the Kanyettes supposed to do now?
Therein lies the danger in trying to date by such a specific sort of affinity: People are far too prone to change. I’m not trying to be anyone’s personal Steve Harvey, but I do offer, by way of example, my philosophy of dating: If we are attracted to one another, can make each other laugh and can have a conversation that makes me not want to run into exposed brick, then there's possibly some potential here.
It's not that hard.
Michael Arceneaux is the author of the book "I Can't Date Jesus" (July 2018, Atria Books).