What is the idea of dating apps?
Dating apps seem like good tools for people who are interested in dating and relationships. These apps ease the whole process of looking for a partner. They are good for shy people who usually are terrified of making the first move and they are a fast way to connect to other people and decide whether or not to spend more time with them.
Tinder might be the most popular dating app, but there are other apps too such as Bumble, Her, Grindr and many more.
Some of these apps are available to heterosexuals as well as to members of the queer community while some others are used exclusively by the queer individuals and are considered their private space.
The danger that surrounds the Iraqi queers who use dating apps?
Queers in Iraq are exposed to a greater danger if they use dating apps compared to heterosexuals. If your sexuality and preferences are mentioned in your bio and one of your friends or relatives finds your account, you will be in a big trouble.
The majority of teenagers and adults living in Iraq who use dating apps do not feel fully comfortable using them and the fear becomes even more if they were members of the queer community. That is why, many people tend to put fake profile pictures or give wrong location until they spend some time knowing the people they are talking to.
Kareem is a queer person from Iraq and he comes to tell us about his personal experience with dating apps. Kareem says that he started using dating apps about ten years ago, and he has been using various types of apps since then including Grindr, Hornet and Tinder.
He explains, “From my point of view, I see that some of these apps are helpful so I use them when I’m bored to get to meet new people. Sometimes, I end up making new friends with the people I talk with on these apps so we share our Instagram accounts and we stay in touch.
As an Iraqi who lives inside the country, I say that it’s pretty scary to fully show yourself and be yourself on dating apps. You always have to keep a little bit of you hidden until you fully understand what kind of person you are dealing with.
If you ask for my advice, then I ask everyone is to stay away from Grindr because it has an extremely toxic environment. The majority of its users are judgmental and they are obsessed with criticizing each other. Hearing criticism over and over again will affect your mental health negatively and makes you hate how you look and how you feel about yourself.
Personally, I think that Tinder is one of the best applications that queer people can use in Iraq. Although it is not exclusive for the queer community, but you can still make it as queer as possible through the app settings as you can choose “females only” or “males only” to avoid any encounter with heterosexuals.
My advice to everyone, no matter what city you live in, is to not go out on a date with someone who you do not know much about. First, you need to spend some time trying to understand their mentality and their view of the queer community. Only then, you can think of taking the next step.
Just because you exchanged Instagram accounts or Facebook accounts or talked for a while, doesn't mean that you can trust them. People can be really different in real life compared to how they look like online.
I made such a mistake when I matched with a guy on a dating app a while ago, I added him on Instagram and we talked for a month. I thought a month was enough for me to know him well so I went out with him on a date.
I was shocked because the guy was completely different from the person I spoke to on the app. He turned out to be a homophobe even though he was a member of the queer community. He kept telling me how I deserve to be killed for being queer and for supporting the queer community.
That experience was terrifying and helped me learn a good lesson. That is why I advise you to be careful because dating apps are available to everyone so you can’t reveal the whole truth of a person through them.”
Iraq does not believe in the idea of dating apps
Iraq is still considered a conservative country so Iraqis who live in it are still unable to express themselves freely. They are still controlled by their family, tribe, and religion. All these can end anyone's life at any moment.
Up to this day, even heterosexuals can’t use dating apps openly. They won’t even find support from their families if they got into a problem with someone they met on dating apps.
It’s even harder for members of the queer community to solve any problems related to dating apps and that’s why being extra careful is the best thing to do.
Different people have different opinions about dating apps as some think they are totally healthy and helpful in finding good partners while others think of them as means for entertainment or even free spaces for criticism.
Dating apps come with some risks that IraQueer likes to shortly mention for the sake of educating people.
Some people tend to use dating apps to get information about other users then end up blackmailing them. This alone can put people’s lives in huge danger. Also, dating apps are one reason that pushes people to be shallower by teaching them how to judge other by their looks only. One other risk of using dating apps could be the risk of developing depression and having low self-esteem as a consequence of hearing bad judgments from strangers over and over.
In the end, it is up to the individuals. They are free to choose whether to use dating apps or avoid them. IraqQueer cares about the safety of the queer community, and for this we advise you to think carefully before talking about your orientation with people you meet on these apps. Avoid giving full confidence to anyone and make sure to not meet them unless you have enough information and understand of who they really are.