Despite a restricted media environment, social app Lesdo provides a digital meeting place for Chinese lesbians – creating the world’s most popular app for this community.
China based Lesdo provides a dating app and produces content for the local lesbian community. This is the context of new regulations in China banning the depiction of same sex relationship – with a gay-themed high school drama Addicted being singled out for attention.
According to Lesdo, thirty five of the two hundred million lesbians globally based in China. Based on catering to this community, the Beijing-based app has grown quickly to a total user group of 1.5 million nationally, with 225,000 active in the app each day. Virtually all the users are below 30 years of age; 56 percent are 18 to 24, while a quarter are 25 to 29.
Lesdo started as a website before being developed as a dating app in 2003. To cater to lesbian user group, the app has become increasingly focussed on providing content in the form of online series and episodes. As the founders explained in an interview with Tech in Asia “People have a hunger for this because they want to see their own stories. They want to be portrayed the way they actually are”.
Lesdo’s success is also a reflection a unique social platform built for women, something still unusual in China where the industry in still dominated by men. The founders were all ex-employees of large internet companies such as Google and local Sina. As the they suggest; “one of the reasons why there wasn’t one for lesbian women is because, you see, in order to develop such an app, you need a team who understands the tech, the know-how, as well as understands the community.”
For us, Lesdo provides a powerful example of the potential of social networks to provide a context for communities to communicate in China, and the power of China to challenge stereotypes. Before reading this, would you have imagined that China is the home of the world’s most popular lesbian app?