Hooking up with friends: LGBTQ+ young people, dating apps, friendship and safety

Research paper by Paul Byron, Kath Albury, Tinonee Pym

Indexed on: 28 Dec '20Published on: 24 Dec '20Published in: Media, Culture & Society


Media, Culture & Society, Ahead of Print. Research exploring digital intimate publics tends to consider social media platforms and dating/hook-up apps separately, implying distance between social and sexual communication practices. This paper troubles that delineation by drawing on LGBTQ+ young people’s accounts of negotiating safety and risk in dating/hook-up apps, in which friendship practices are significant. We explore four key themes of friendship that arose in our analysis of interviews and workshop discussions: sharing mutuals (or friends-in-common) with potential dates/hook-ups; making friends through apps; friends supporting app negotiations; and friends’ involvement in safety strategies. Through analysis of these data, we firstly argue that friendship is often both an outcome and an organising force of LGBTQ+ young people’s uses of dating/hook-up apps, and secondly, that media sites commonly defined as social (e.g. Instagram) or sexual (e.g. Tinder) are imbricated, with friendship contouring queer sex and dating practices.