It’s a sentiment that Al, a 23-year-old bisexual woman, echoes

She also suggests in-app educational resources to help teach women how to have casual sex safely and enjoyably

When she found herself living in a place with very few sex-positive queer spaces, dating apps helped her create that space. It wasn’t hard to find a queer coffee shop or bookstore, but “sometimes you want more than latte art,” so she turned to the digital. Once she moved to New York, however, Al found that it was much easier to meet women in bars than online. “You only really know whether you have chemistry with someone after you’ve met in person, and that can be determined at a lesbian bar very quickly,” she notes. “Whereas on Tinder, I felt like I was spending hours a week swiping based on arbitrary criteria that mattered so much less face-to-face.”

“As a person with social anxiety, the thought of approaching someone at a function in order to try to hook up with them makes me want to barf,” Zoe says, noting that she prefers to find hook-ups digitally because it allows her to lay out her intentions before even meeting the other person. This streamlined simplicity in expectations is the appeal of using dating apps for hook-ups for so many people. Finding someone online and chatting with them first is a simple way to make sure that all parties are on the same page in terms of what you want. “It can make the experience of sex more communicative,” she adds.

Although every queer woman I interviewed had unique experiences with hooking up via an app, there was one commonality across each one: There is definitely a community of queer women who want a casual encounters app. So why doesn’t one exist? It’s not for lack of trying. HER, a dating app “by queer people, for queer people,” was originally launched by creator mujeres Armenia saliendo Robin Exton with every intention of being a “Grindr” for queer women. “A bunch of times, we get feedback from people like, ‘I want a hook-up app!‘ and ‘I just want to meet up with people for very casual sex,’” Exton says. “There is certainly an audience of people that want to do that.” But what Exton found was that, although there is a market for queer women seeking hook-up apps, the support she received for this version of the service was small.

It’s this inability to stick with the minority community it serves that many queer women point to as the moment when LGBTQ+-centered apps tend to fall apart. “I strongly believe that many queer women are still embarrassed or indeed worried about how they will be seen for simply wanting sex,” says Ziff, adding that many queer women are still unlearning the shameful stigma that surrounds hook-ups. “Why should women still be viewed as sluts whilst men are lotharios?” By introducing apps that are meant to cater to the hook-up community and then changing their purpose to something more romantic, companies are sending the message that the population seeking something casual is outside of the norm, so it’s not worth the effort. “I think the most critical thing would be to make sure [a queer women hook-up app] normalizes hookups between queer women,” asserts Zoe. “Come on, queer ladies! It’s okay to f*ck before moving in with her! And it’s okay just to f*ck!”

Eventually, HER made the transition from a casual app to a full-blown dating service

But an app created purely for queer women looking for hook-ups would have to do more than normalize casual sex, and a major problem becomes clear when you start to list what the app needs to do. Because the queer community is vast and ranging, everyone is looking for something different from the app. For Ziff, dating apps for queer women could increase use by heightening security and emphasizing safety checks. Al, on the other hand, hopes a queer women hook-up app would place sex positivity at the forefront of its beliefs. “It’s frowned upon on [other apps] to frankly discuss kinks or look for threesomes, but I want a platform where I can openly look for those things. You can’t send images on [other apps], but I would feel a lot more comfortable exchanging photos on another casual hookup app.”