romeo, romeo

Gay dating app asks users to help Ukrainians and is blown away by response

A gay dating app is helping people escape Ukraine
Posed by model (Photo: Shutterstock)

A well-known gay dating app says it’s been blown away by the response of its users to the plight of Ukrainians fleeing their country. It’s estimated around 1 million people have left the country amidst following Russia’s military invasion.

The social media site and app ROMEO (formerly known as Planet Romeo) was launched in Germany around 20 years ago. It has 3 million members all around the world but is particularly popular in parts of Eastern Europe and the Baltics.

Related: Warlord who led torture and murder of LGBTQ Chechens killed in Ukraine

Besides the regular profiles common to such apps, it also allows people to join from a vast number of forum groups. At the start of this week, it launched a group called ‘Shelter for Ukraine’. The group is to “connect those who can offer shelter and assistance”.

Planet Romeo's Shelter for Ukraine group

Users immediately began to join and offer up their spare rooms or homes.

The group now boasts over 8,000 members after just four days, with hundreds of offers of help.

“We live in Prague and can offer a place to stay in our small guest room with one bed (140×200 for one person or couple),” was one typical entry.

“I can host in italy near by Pisa ( Tuscany ) one or 2 person,” said an Italian. “I live actually in countryside .I can travel and collect you up to the Italian border.”

“I offer accommodation for the one or those you urgently need. Whether male or female, up to 2 people,” said another person. “Would also offer shelter or sanctuary to those Russian soldiers who oppose the war and/or are fleeing from Putin’s government as a result.”

We’re printing more examples below but have hidden the identities of users.


A spokesperson for ROMEO told Queerty why it created the ‘Shelter for Ukraine’ group.

“When we heard the news of the invasion of Ukraine, like many, we wanted to do something to help. We are an international team, with people from all over the world. Many of us have experienced war and oppression. Connecting people is what we do, so we looked at how we could use the platform to connect people in need, with our users who are willing to help.”

Related: LGBTQ activists protest in support of Ukraine at Stonewall Inn

A few people online have pointed out that Ukrainian men aged between 18-60 are currently not allowed to leave Ukraine and are being made to stay and fight. The spokesperson acknowledged this to be the case but said the appeal was not just to help men.

“We understand that some men have made it out, but many are still there. We have some users sending pictures and updates. The offer of shelter is not only for men, it is for their parents, sisters, children.”

Indeed, one user yesterday appeared to indicate he has several people due to turn up: “Now at the weekend come to my home 2 wifes and 5 children! They can stay as long they want! Greetings from Austria!”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been going on for the past week, with the death toll mounting. Hundreds of civilians have now been killed.

Last night, Russian forces battled to take over a Ukrainian nuclear power plant, which briefly led to a fire breaking out, stoking fears of another potential Chernobyl-like meltdown. The fire was later extinguished and Russian forces now occupy the Zaporizhzhia facility.

ROMEO is not the only geo-social network to appeal to users for the support over Ukraine. Grindr also posted a message yesterday encouraging users to support LGBTQ organizations in Ukraine.

Refugees have also found help through a network of Facebook groups, while Airbnb has also pledged short-term accommodation for 100,000 through its independent nonprofit,