Blued, a gay chat and hook-up app for Chinese guys, has within two years of starting got 15 million users and netted US$30 million in funding, a feat which some say is to be considered as public service and shows that people in China are beginning to be more tolerant towards gay people.
Blued first became available on Android and iOS at the end of 2012 and late last year, this Chinese-language flirty app that shows nearby users and where you can chat with anyone that takes your fancy, had two million registered users.
Now it has 15 million users, 3 million of them outside China, according to The Associated Press. Developers last month also received US$30 million in funding from Silicon Valley venture capital company DCM Venture to expand abroad and possibly prepare for an IPO, it added.
The AP report quoted Wu Zunyou, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases center praising the app for its usefulness to the LGBT community. “None of our public awareness websites can receive such attention. This is a very important channel to be able to spread information about AIDS prevention among the LGBT community,” Wu said.
The Associated Press also quoted Andrea Pastorelli, a policy specialist at the United Nations Development Programme as saying that the Center for Disease Control was “having real issue reaching out to the most marginalized people and in China that’s where the epidemic is.”
An investment manager at the Beijing office of DCM Ventures was cited as saying that the company invested US$30 million in the app because “Five percent of the total population are LGBT people” and that “Social attitudes toward gay people will become more and more tolerant in the future.”
This is seen as a great step up for gay rights especially since same-sex relations is traditionally seen as taboo because of the Chinese belief that children are required to marry and bear offspring to continue the family line.
China only legalized adult same-sex relations in 1997 and removed it from an official list of psychiatric diseases in 2001 but does not recognize same-sex partnerships and no laws to outlaw discrimination against gay people.
Geng Le, the app’s founder, speaking to The Associated Press, said attitudes among Chinese toward gay people are changing. Five years ago his website hosting the app would be regularly shut down but that doesn't happen anymore even though it carries discussions on whether to legalize same-sex marriage.
China also has many more organizations devoted to LGBT advocacy issues, and gay bars that once could only be found in major cities such as Shanghai are opening up in smaller cities too, the AP report said.