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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

LGBTQ+ bars find new patron in Hinge

The dating app Hinge is partnering with the Lesbian Bar Project to support near-extinct lesbian bars in pursuit of inclusivity.
(Hinge/Lesbian Bar Project)

Although the dating app Hinge tends to be a place users might head out of desperation (or an effort to escape Tinder), this summer the intimidating app opened up a new partnership that morphs the platform into a way to support LGBTQ+ institutions.

Out of 200 lesbian bars once in operation in the 1980s, only 21 remain in business today, and Nashville’s own The Lipstick Lounge is just one of many bars still facing threats of closure due to the pandemic. So, New York filmmaker Erica Rose—who researched the bar closures—teamed up with her co-director Elina Street to found the Lesbian Bar Project, an initiative to celebrate and support lesbian bars during the pandemic.

Quarantine left many of us feeling lonely, and Rose was no exception. She reminisced on The Cubbyhole, a lesbian bar she once frequented while discovering her sexuality. “That helped me become comfortable with who I am,” she said. “The Cubbyhole knew I was gay before I did.”

The Lesbian Bar Project’s first initiative with Jägermeister in June 2020 raised over $300,000 to keep lesbian bars open, acknowledging that they are both a safe place and a critical part of LGBTQ+ culture. Hinge, the fastest growing dating app in the United States, is hoping their partnership will breathe new life into these hubs as they face ongoing closure threats. 

(Hinge/Lesbian Bar Project)

Hinge prides itself on being what many millennials and Gen Z’ers look for: the dating app designed to be deleted. The app lets users swipe left or right on potential matches, and then engage in conversations that hopefully go a little deeper than “Dtf” and “U up?”

Hinge’s initiative will provide at least $50,000 in economic stimulus to lesbian bars and curate opportunities for all daters to learn about LGBTQ+ issues. While swiping, users will be able to send a “rose,” or a premium like, to grab someone’s attention and contribute to the cause. Proceeds will go to participating bars on Aug. 8.

Inventory, staffing and anti-trans “bathroom bills” are only a few of the factors constraining lesbian bars that Hinge hopes to address. They will also encourage women users to take their connections further (and find out if their matches really exist) by attending a participating bar. Signs at bars in the initiative read, “Get off your phone and come in for a drink,” and digital banners in the app urge users to “Send a Rose, Save a Lesbian Bar.”

“This is a particularly anxiety-provoking time for all daters, with more than half reporting that they’re feeling nervous about getting back out there to date. That number is even higher for members of the lesbian community,” Logan Ury, the Director of Relationship Science at Hinge, said.

The Lesbian Bar Project’s prior fundraiser in 2020 included a 20-minute documentary about lesbian hangouts which fueled unity among bars and customers. Hinge hopes to create similar awareness and invigorate those most affected by isolation to celebrate themselves.

“We wanted to build a bridge in the community. We wanted a space where we could set the rules,” Rose said. “Most of the comments we get are, ‘Thank you for having a safe space. You saved my life.’” 

You can support this project regardless of your sexuality by pulling up to the Lipstick Lounge on 1400 Woodland Street in Nashville (if you’re of age, of course) or checking out Hinge in the app store.

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About the Contributor
Veronica Tadross
Veronica Tadross, Senior Staff Writer
Veronica Tadross ('25) is majoring in economics and history and minoring in Arabic in the College of Arts and Science. She is from Long Island, N.Y., and you can reach her at [email protected].
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