What are the best Chinese gay dating apps?
Despite what many people think, being gay or having a gay relationship isn’t illegal in China.
In fact, there’s a bunch of Chinese dating apps dedicated solely to the LGBTQ+ community. These apps help like-minded people meet each other in a traditional society where sexuality isn’t openly discussed.
However, Chinese gay dating apps are a little different to those in the West, simply because they have to be.
They must adhere to the Chinese government’s rules and regulations, and this means provocative and explicit content is a big no-no.
They’re also not marketed as gay apps. Instead, they use words like ‘community’ and ‘diversity’ to differentiate themselves.
Rest assured you can still have fun with gay dating apps in China. Just stick to private conversations, and stay protected with a VPN as I mention further down.
Finka is the most popular Chinese gay app at the moment.
Essentially, Finka works like Tinder where you swipe left or right, depending on whether you like the guy you see.
But you can do more with Finka, like watching live broadcasts and sending virtual gifts to your favorite boys.
Finka is predominantly a social network for younger gay and bisexual men, with the majority of the app’s users born after 1990. So, if you’re a twink or you can only picture yourself dating a twink, then this is the app for you.
Initially, this gay Chinese app was big in first-tier cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, before spreading nationwide.
Lately, the app’s owner has been working to raise awareness for HIV prevention. This includes investment in China’s first ‘internet hospital’ focused on men’s health.
If you can’t read or write Chinese characters, then you’re really going to struggle navigating your way around Finka. The app is only available in Mandarin.
I’ve used it a bit, but I find it frustrating having to constantly translate things. I was never taught “Top or bottom?” in Mandarin class!
But seriously, Chinese gay vocab is a language all of its own. You’ll need to be patient, and so will the guys you’ve matched with if they expect a quick reply.
2. the L
This Chinese gay app is aimed squarely at women.
It used to be called Rela but was mysteriously shut down and then rebadged as ‘the L’.
Boasting membership of over 12 million girls, you can find your soulmate nearby (thanks to geo-location) or based on mutual topics you might be interested in.
The app also offers an Instagram-like feed where you can post your best selfies and react to other girls’ posts with a love heart. Awww!
Over 40 million guys have this app on their phone, making it the king (queen?) of all Chinese gay dating apps.
Pronounced “Blue-duh”, the app has live broadcasts where you can interact with hot dudes from around the world. Most guys are Chinese, but the app’s also popular in other Asian countries.
Blued allows you to message anyone you like in your nearby area, send disappearing images (like Snapchat) and even share your real-time location.
Like most Chinese dating apps, Blued is free but there are paywalls for numerous features. I find this annoying as I’m constantly being told how much better my experience could be if I open up my wallet!
One interesting paid feature, however, is the ability to appear in two locations at once (I haven’t tried this yet). This is presumably so you can start chatting up your next date before you’ve even arrived at your destination.
LesPark is an exclusive lesbian social app that creates a safe space for women.
Constant monitoring ensures that any men found using the app are promptly kicked off. I guess I can’t give it a test drive then!
LesPark attracts ladies from all walks of life, as well as those who want to use the platform to influence others via live broadcast such as singing.
In fact, users who sign up to the Baihua Plan can earn money if their original short videos get seen by lots of eyeballs.
So, be wary when using this app as some of the women may just be looking to make money.
LesPark isn’t just for ladies in China – you can meet queer Chinese women in 34 countries around the world.
I’m being a little cheeky here as Grindr isn’t a Chinese app.
However, the app was part of a Chinese company from 2016 to 2020, and it’s popular among mainland Chinese guys who want to get with an expat.
It’s also the app of choice for gay men in Hong Kong.
On Grindr, you’ll find Chinese guys who can communicate in English, or at the very least, those who want to learn English!
From my experience, Chinese guys on Grindr are obsessed in Western guys. And some will only date Western guys.
Many are also open to no-strings hook-ups, in keeping with how the app is used in the West.
Just look out for the countless escorts who are on the app to make a living. You can spot them from a mile away with their ripped bodies and eagerness to meet!
Speaking of prostitution in China, you can read more about that here from a heterosexual perspective.
The great thing about using Grindr in China is the guys represent practically every major country in the world – international travelers, expats, as well as locals – giving you a truly global flavor.
The app’s a pain in the ass to use in China though. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
To keep the conversation flowing, I suggest talking the chats elsewhere.
Douban is a Chinese app but not a dating app per se.
It has over 60 million registered users, and millions more unregistered users, who use the app for movie and book reviews, music playlists, shopping, and events.
One particular feature, known as Douban Groups (or 豆瓣小组 in Mandarin), is a forum that allows people to share views on a range of topics.
There’s a sizeable queer community, especially lesbians, who use Douban Groups to find friends and build relationships.
Users can also add sub-topics within a theme, so it’s more like Reddit than a traditional dating platform.
The site has no English language version, so you’ll only find Chinese people (or those who know Mandarin) on Douban.
What about Hong Kong?
The preferred dating apps in Hong Kong are different to those in mainland China.
As far as gay dating apps go, local Hong Kongers enjoy using international apps like Grindr and HER (for queer women).
There’s also Feeld for alternative relationships such as polyamory and threesomes. You won’t find this kind of app on the mainland.
It’s nice to know you don’t necessarily need an app that’s specifically marketed as gay to find the person of your dreams in Hong Kong.
Psst! Remember the Chinese internet is censored
In case you’re planning a trip to China, it’s worth pointing out that the Chinese internet is censored.
So, when using Wi-Fi you won’t have access to your favorite sites and apps like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Gmail and so on, unless you have a virtual private network (VPN) app on your phone.
Fortunately, VPNs are relatively cheap. You can see the best VPNs for China here.
Or, you can skip the review and go to the one that I recommend most based on my life in China:
Just remember to download the VPN before you arrive in China, otherwise you’re screwed (pardon the pun).
You should also turn on your VPN when using gay dating apps in China if you want maximum privacy and security.
Having said that, I’ve noticed that Grindr can actually work better without a VPN in China, while Finka doesn’t seem to work at all unless the VPN is switched off.
That scares me a little, as it means your conversations and sensitive information are potentially accessible by Big Brother.
Tech and censorship constantly change in China, so always keep checking what works best.
Chinese gay dating apps help the LGBT community
China offers a limited range of gay dating apps.
However, for a country that has tight control over mass media and technology, and doesn’t overtly celebrate queer culture, the handful of apps available provide an inclusive space for the gay community in China.
Just be mindful of censorship and don’t say or do anything in a public online space that could get you into hot water.
Good luck on your dating journey. Hopefully you can find your future partner on one of these apps!
For more on Chinese dating in general, check out this article. Otherwise, download one of the Chinese apps and start chatting with the lovely locals.
For more inspiration
Here are some more handy resources to help you navigate the dating world.
On The Helpful Panda:
On other websites:
Note about photography: The Helpful Panda wishes to thank Dainis Graveris and SexualAlpha for all the amazing photography in this article. Main image credit: Dainis Graveris on Pexels.
FAQ about Chinese gay dating apps
What’s the most popular Chinese gay dating app?
For guys it’s Finka, while for ladies it’s LesPark (though there are women from many other countries on the app).
What’s the best Chinese gay dating app in English?
Grindr because most of the guys have good English and really want to find a Westerner.
Are Chinese gay bars better than apps if you want to meet someone?
It’s a personal preference – some people like meeting online first, while others prefer meeting face-to-face in a bar. However, if you’re in a small city, there are no gay bars so apps are your only option.
Is it illegal to be gay in China?
No, it’s legal. But most gay people keep their sexuality private because it’s still regarded as shameful in Chinese society.
Is gay marriage legal in China?
No, Chinese society is quite conservative and only marriage between a man and a woman is legal.