POWER IN NUMBERS

How A Chinese Gay Dating App You’ve Never Heard Of Just Hit 15 Million Users

Blued2Chinese gay dating app Blued has announced it has reached 15 million users, up from 2 million in just the last year. By comparison, Grindr boasts on its website to have “more than 5 million guys in 192 countries around the world.” We reported in 2013 that Grindr had reached 6 million.

Moral of the story: That’s a lot of people to sign up for Blued in one year. And it highlights two main factors.

First, the sheer numbers in China are hard to even wrap our heads around.

There are over 1.3 billion people living in China, representing roughly one fifth of the world’s population. Using some admittedly flawed estimates, let’s say half of them are men. That’s 650 million Chinese men. And conservatively, let’s estimate that around 6 percent of them are gay.

They make up a Chinese gay market of at least 27 million people. By comparison, you could use the same shoddy calculations to conclude there are around 9-10 million gay men in the United States.

Second, attitudes towards gay lifestyles haven’t quite fully evolved in Chinese culture. Homosexuality was legalized there in 1997, and only in 2001 was it removed from the Ministry of Health’s list of mental illnesses.

That means a whole lot of closeted guys and men in sham marriages. There’s a slang word — tóng qi — that describes women whose husbands are gay.

So what better than a discreet phone app to browse, chat and meet up with other men?

Blued has received $30 million in venture capital, and CEO Geng Le has hopes of reaching a worldwide audience.

“The moment gay Internet companies can come to the international stage, the social significance will be far greater than the capital value.”