I came across an article online talking about Blued, a new mobile application from China that aims at gay men in this country. Needless to say, it was picked up by 2 millions users not long after being released. This has signified a big change in the society of the world’s largest population where the LGBT community is still struggling to find their voice.
Meanwhile, in Vietnam, where the LGBT movement has become stronger and more outspoken due to the upcoming bill to allow same-sex marriage in this country (You can read more about this in my older post The Road to Love). The Tôi Đồng Ý movement organized by ICS is an online campaign to push for a better understanding of the LGBT community, and to get people voted “YES” on the bill.
Here is one of the videos the campaign has produced for the campaign:
In my opinion, ICS has done a great job in better the understanding of the community. In general, the result has shown a more favorable social view toward the LGBT community. However, within the community itself, there are still a lot of struggles. For each letter in this community, smaller communities are formed around the web. For example, TaoXanh is the largest community for gay men in Vietnam, whereas AsianLabrys is more popular among the lesbian community. A website where I frequently visit, in which has more news regarding the LGBT community, is Motthegioi. On each of these websites, users could find advices, stories, news, activities regarding their sexuality. However, what I find is still missing is a place for the LGBT community to find each other like Blued.
On the mobile platform, there is still a much needed mobile application aiming at the Vietnamese LGBT. In America (and the world), Grindr is very well-used for most gay men, whereas Brenda is a representative for lesbian finder mobile application. In Vietnam, Zing’s 2!LOVER mobile application is one of the few applications I could find for mobile dating.
Why is it still a big hole to fill for the market of the LGBT? Close to 3 millions of the LGBT in Vietnam, why has not anyone created a mobile application to meet the demand? Even though the LGBT has become more visible to the public, meeting and finding each other is still not easy for them, especially if they are not living in big metro cities such as Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Closeted LGBT members are having even a harder time to find support and information if they do not have regular access to the Internet, let alone the websites I have listed above. I have mentioned the skyrocket number of 3G usage and smartphones in my other post, it would make sense to have such a mobile application released, wouldn’t it?
With the country forwarding move with legalizing same-sex marriage, it would help closeted LGBT members to be able to live the life that makes them happy. Restricted and bias social views toward the LGBT community have created more social problems than eliminating them. This article talks about one of problems in which closeted gays who have to marry to meet social expectations end up going to gay prostitutions. Just like Grindr and Blued, there would be other social criticisms toward having such applications available to the public. Instant hookups and health related issues are just a few. However, I believe by having one of these applications would be more helpful than harmful. Everyone needs to know that s/he is not alone. Knowing that there is another support system of people alike to them will be more useful in helping closeted LGBT members to understand themselves.
Therefore, I hope that in a close future, there would be a Vietnamese mobile application that aims at helping the LGBT members to find each other. Just like any other social tools, it’s not the tool that caused harms but how it’s used will determine the goodness or badness of the tool.
C’mon Vietnam, I have faith in you!