Nayla Ziadeh investigates up-and-coming lesbian dating app ‘Brenda’ and tells you just what she found.
Some of my gay male friends use the infamous gay dating app Grindr in order to make acquaintances, date, or simply have casual sex. Intrigued by news of an app that makes ‘cruising’ instantly accessible to anyone with a 3G connection, I began looking for a female equivalent. I found Brenda – a lesbian dating app that, like Grindr, is location based.
Having read reviews, I bit the bullet and download the app for myself. Fortunately, my experience was largely a positive one.
For the first few days I was cautious, keeping an elusive profile page, initially it felt exposing to upload a photo of myself but eventually I realised that nobody was going to talk to me without pixelated collateral. Begrudgingly, I snapped and posted a not so flattering shot of myself and was instantly peppered with messages.
There are a variety of women on Brenda – it’s not all that different from going to a gay bar. Among the people I talked to were:
- Bi-curious girls, looking for a gay girl to “teach me all there is to know” (yes, that is a direct quote).
- Heterosexual couples searching for someone to have a threesome with (surprisingly abundant and so very irritating).
- Ladies wanting friendship/ scoping out someone to meet for a drink.
- Oh, and how could I forget, the odd charming individual who asks you to masturbate in front of them on Skype.
One weeknight, while showing Brenda to a friend, we came across a girl I thought I would like to meet. As we chatted, my friend and I giggled, checking out her profile page several times in the space of a minute and wondering what she would be like in person (I was strongly reminded of being 12 years old and talking to my crushes on MSN). Suddenly, we were dismayed to read a message from her asking why I kept viewing her profile page. Flabbergasted, I attempted to find out how she had realised. Despite the information being nowhere on Google, eventually, I found out about tracking – an upgrade that allows you to receive notification as-and-when somebody views your photos.
Slightly tipsy one evening and compelled to get the full Brenda experience, I caved and upgraded, to see that I had so far received 97 profile views. Had all the other girls I’d been talking to known about tracks? I had no way of telling.
Over the course of the month I conversed with at least 30 local women, each time trying to sway the conversation towards meeting. I tried various methods; from chatting for several days in order to get to know one another first, to being more direct early on in the conversation and asking if they would like to go for a drink. However, like me at the beginning, they were perhaps cautious about going face-to-face.
Within the space of 28 days I managed to meet up with three girls in total. One downloaded the app because she had recently broken up with her girlfriend but was too shy to go to gay bars, having mostly straight friends. Another, visiting the UK from South Africa, was looking to meet girls from London. The third used Brenda as a way of keeping in touch with a friend who had recently moved to Australia and wanted to get to know new like-minded people. Meeting girls was fun and easy – when it actually happened.
I began to realise that Brenda is exciting for the gay community. It’s a safe cyberspace for non-straight women, which I imagine could be particularly useful in parts of the world where it’s dangerous or alienating to be queer. I was able to have conversations with women from all over the world, including Saudi Arabia, Brazil, New Zealand, to right down the road from where I live – this in itself was an educational and unifying experience.
The app is also an easy way for introverts, or those who are still exploring their sexuality, to dip their toe into a social gay scene. Not to mention the fact that Brenda is fully accessible to anyone who has the internet and the ability to type – this offers an inclusivity to members of the gay community who are less physically able/disabled, which some gay bars still do not cater. Sadly, transphobia and biphobia are present, with many cis lesbians stating on their profiles that they only want lesbians: ‘no bis no trans.’
If I were to give any advice on how to use Brenda, and enjoy it, I would suggest (aside from the obvious: liaise somewhere public and always be safe) that you get to know someone and meet them as quickly as possible; it’s the surest way to find out whether or not you click.
Is Brenda the next level up from gay bars? No, but it’s a nice option to have, combining retro aspects of cruising with contemporary globalisation; before you go on holiday you are able to seek out like minded women and you can tell someone what bar you’re going out to while you’re still deciding what to wear. All in all, Brenda has the opportunity to be whatever we make it.