You’ve heard of FinTech, HealthTech, EdTech, and a bunch of other -Techs…but have you heard of QueerTech? It’s the most fun one. (Kidding!) But it is important, and will become increasingly more so as tolerance increases and more people feel comfortable claiming their LGTBQ+ identity.
QueerTech is exactly what it sounds like: technology created with the purpose to solve problems for users who identify as LGBTQ+. QueerTech often overlaps with other -Techs (especially HealthTech), but intention to serve this community is its defining characteristic. Simple, right?
QueerTech is the Future
QueerTech matters whether or not you’re a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Almost 16% of Gen Z identify as LGBTQ+, which means those who create digital products need to take this community into consideration or else risk getting left behind.
Product Managers create products used by millions of people, products that have the potential to shape society. Technology touches everyone. That’s why it’s so important that the people behind creating this tech (we’re looking at you, Product People!) are creating inclusive products.
Ultimately, technology is just a tool, but it is a double-edged sword. It can have a negative impact and reproduce prejudice, like in many AI applications. But it can also have positive and life-changing effects. You have the opportunity to shape those tools so that they serve society in the best way possible.
Need inspiration? Here are just a few of the products out there today that are improving LGBTQ+ quality of life.
Health: Queering BetterHelp
Healthcare can be a tricky space to navigate while queer. From insurance inaccessibility to prejudice from healthcare staff, there is clearly a problem. And where there’s a problem, there’s a Product Manager somewhere working on a solution. Here are a couple:
- Plume: The first telehealth app created for the trans and non-binary community. It bloomed during the pandemic and is now connecting trans people with gender-affirming medical care in 41 U.S. states.
- FOLX: Though it offers similar services as Plume, FOLX is most known for its hormone memberships. It ships hormones directly to your house! Eat your heart out, Amazon Prime. This is great for privacy and security, removing the risk that can come with picking up hormones in person at the pharmacy.
- Included Health: Offering a broader range of services, Included Health is a one-stop-shop for queer folks who need help navigating insurance or finding culturally competent doctors for primary, urgent, and speciality care.
Direct-to-consumer products that let people bypass unhelpful and harmful traditional healthcare? We’ll take 3, please. Some investors were skeptical that there was a market for queer HealthTech products…and they were wrong. People love them!
An area for growth is mental health Queertech. LGBTQ+ people are more likely to experience a mental health condition, for a variety of reasons. Therapists often don’t understand, and reproduce the same prejudice and lack of acceptance that caused their queer patients to seek therapy in the first place. Meaning, for a long time there was no viable mental health care treatment for a population with one of the highest needs. So…if there’s an egregious supply/demand issue in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? Product Managers! Though still in early stages, here is a product in the works:
- VODA: An app for mental well-being. It provides self-guided therapy programs designed by LGBTQIA+ psychotherapists, using mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy methods. It’s like if you took Headspace, added a sprinkle of BetterHelp, then made it queer.
Honorable mentions: BetterHelp and Talkspace. Though not specifically created for the queer community, these online therapy apps have a feature to filter for LGBTQ+ friendly therapists.
Safety: Queering Yelp
Physical and psychological safety are a priority for the LGBTQ+ community. That’s why there are apps springing up to help users identify queer-friendly businesses and avoid intolerant spaces.
- THEAPP: This product stands out because it includes businesses in the process. Merchants and services register on the app to signal to guests they are a queer-friendly establishment.
- Lavender Book: Lavender Book is a crowd-sourced app created by the National Black Justice Coalition and Out In Tech. It’s similar in concept to THEAPP, but is specifically built for the black LGBTQ+ communities.
- Spectrum: An Australian-based queer wellness app with the goal to reduce isolation. And the first step to reduce isolation is to get out of the house! It lets users rank establishments and publish local events, making it easier to gather and create community.
Travel: Queering Google Maps
Going hand in hand with safety is travel. Same-sex relations and trans gender expression are criminalized in dozens of countries around the world, and stigmatized in many more. Resources to protect yourself while traveling LGBTQ+ can literally be a life-saver.
- GeoSure and TripIt: Describing itself as “the leader in real-time, hyper-local and personalized safety insights,” GeoSure provides a detailed profile of the places their users visit. They’ve created safety scores for over 65k cities and neighborhoods in various categories, including LGBTQ+ safety. TripIt is a travel logistics app partnering with GeoSure where travelers can also use these neighborhood safety rankings.
- Misterb&b and FabStayz: Part of travel is finding a place to stay! These services connect travelers with LGBTQ+ friendly hotels and accommodations.
Dating: Queering Tinder
There are many options for dating apps in general, LGBTQ+ or otherwise. That’s because there are lots of people with different needs and desires! We won’t list the whole collection of queer dating apps here, but if you’re interested in learning more about the subject just Google “LGBT dating apps” and you’ll find your next internet rabbit hole to fall into. For now, we’ll cover the classics.
- Grindr: Need we say more? Like all popular dating apps, Grindr is well-known, well-loved, and well-hated in equal parts. It’s targeted towards men seeking men, but will accept any queer user. It’s geo-located and does not require users to mutually like each other before chatting, making it easy to find potential matches nearby.
- HER: With a user base of 10+ million queer folks, and growing, HER is the flip side of the Grindr coin—targeted toward women seeking women, but open to all. It’s not as notorious as Grindr, but it does call itself “the world’s most loved LGBTQ+ dating & community app.”
Why this matters
Most of the QueerTech listed above came about because queer people in tech saw a need in their own lives or in the lives of their loved ones and decided to do something about it. It’s resistance through technology. It’s tech for queer people, by queer people.
But queer people aren’t the only ones creating QueerTech. As the queer community and user base grows, it will demand more from its digital products. Queer-inclusivity in product design will become the baseline expectation.
The technology sector is predominantly white and cis-male. It’s not new news, but it’s exciting to see the changes that have been happening as the industry reckons with this imbalance and takes steps to become more inclusive. We’ve seen more and more mainstream companies recognizing the need for queer perspectives in the workforce and creating digital products created with queer users in mind.
What results is a positive feedback loop:
- Increased acceptance in society of people with queer identities ->
- Queer job-seekers feeling more comfortable in companies and industries where they previously felt alienated (like tech and Product!) ->
- A more diverse workforce capable of creating incredible inclusive products ->
- More resources for queer people to help them feel supported and able to fully participate in society.
This is a simplification of the hard work and complicated dynamics that are involved in culture shift, but the needle increasingly moves in that direction.
How to Build Your Own QueerTech
Want to get involved? There are lots resources for queer folks (and queer allies!) in tech. Here are a few LGBTQ+ specific Hackathons:
- HackOut: A 48-hour online Hackathon, combined with the world’s largest LGBTQIA-themed entrepreneurship conference.
- PrideHacks: Run by QueerTech, PrickHacks is an annual Hackathon that takes place in Canada and focuses on creating solutions for local queer non-profits.
And a few organizations representing LGBTQ+ folks in tech:
- Out in Tech: With 40k members, Out in Tech is the world’s largest non-profit community of LGBTQ+ tech leaders.
- LesbiansWhoTech: A community of LGBTQ+ women, non-binary, and trans individuals in and around tech (and the people who support them).
- QueerTech: With the mission to give back to the community through technology and to “queer the tech ecosystem” by lowering barrier to entry.
For more content like this, check out our blog post Pride and Product Management: Where Tech Mets LGBT+