New Delhi: Breaking down stereotyping the Indian homegrown social networking and matchmaking app ‘As You Are,’ for the LGBTQ+ community has evolved into a community and matchmaking app for Indian queer people of various gender identities and sexual orientations.
Founded by Sunali Aggarwal, a Chandigarh-based entrepreneur the App has received over 25,000 downloads since its inception.
Inspired to create a safe online space for queer people by the 2018 landmark decision that repealed Section 377, Sunali says, “In â€˜WE, As You Are Community’, members can take part in discussions with like-minded individuals that encourage them to be their true queer self, whether it’s a judicial news discussion or venting about erroneous queer representation in movies. The second feature, ‘Group Chat’ is a place for members to engage in chat in invite-only groups created based on similar interests or hobbies, be it gaming or baking.”
Owain Morgan, Partner, As You Are, says: “India is early in the process of being much more accepting of LGBTQ+ relationships. We’ve seen these transformations in other countries and once they begin, what was unthinkable a decade ago becomes the new normal. Till now India lacked a significant online social platform that serves all LGBTQ+ people, as As You Are understands the challenges that are unique to India in bringing the community together, from the diversity of culture and language across such a vast country to the hesitancy to come out and the social risk it entails. LGBTQ+ people are whole people and have a multitude of needs and wants, and bringing them together as whole people was important to us.”
Although the platform began as a dating app, with ‘Matchbox’ being its prime feature, Sunali soon realized that the community needed an avenue for safe conversations and more than a space for swiping profiles.
A key differentiator setting it apart is its manual verification of profiles, to ensure that all profiles on the app are genuine. Besides matchmaking, users can try new features like ‘Group Chat’ and ‘WE, As You Are Community’ to connect with other queer users.
Adapting to the new normal looking for dates, making friends, networking, and interacting with others who share the same interests and values has become very common and normal.