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19.07.2016

Dearly beloved, we are gathered queer today to tell you about Amour, India’s new LGBT dating site that means to set you up for good. Or for as long as your better half can stand you. Unlike the flurry of gay hook-up sites in India, this one’s meant to be akin to an LGBT matrimonial site, aiding long-term partnerships, the founders tell us.

It’s barely been a month since they launched, and they’ve already racked up 250+ registered profiles, one of which belongs to chartered accountant Sonu Mulchandani, who’s excited to find a nice boy to settle down with, a task he no longer wants to entrust to “friends or hook-up sites”.

He believes that the detailed questionnaire filled by each participant means the chances of finding a like-minded person is better. “And after I attended their speed dating event in Bangalore last week, it feels like it’s okay to have high hopes.”

The existing dating sites don’t verify profiles, so most women get catfished by men posing as women. On Amour, you can be sure that everyone is real.

Girl On Girl Faction

The idea for Amour was originally restaurateur and IT professional Dolly Koshy’s, who thought that the country badly needed a dating platform for lesbian and bisexual women. “The existing dating sites don’t verify profiles, so most women get catfished by men posing as women. On Amour, you can be sure that everyone is real.”

Despite many well-intentioned efforts to get the idea off the ground, nothing concrete happened until April this year, when Dolly met fellow LGBT activist Karan Kariappa, leading to a girl-meets-boy story that’s platonic, but ultimately about love. “Love that isn’t bogged down by the hookup culture, which often seems like the only avenue to meet new people in the LGBT community. Here’s a site for long-term love, an all-inclusive platform for the entire spectrum of sexuality and gender expressions, not just for gays and lesbians,” she explains.

Dolly and Karan launched Amour this June, after conducting two months of interviews with a diverse sample of the country’s queer community to ascertain the parameters and details of their questionnaire, and to use it to create algorithms used for profile matching.

Build Me Up, Buttercup

Dolly leads us through the signup form, which intends to be as accommodating as possible and comes in six languages (English, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Bengali). You are assigned a unique ID, but you can choose to stick with your real name; you select gender identity and expression with options in these categories ranging from ‘asexual’ to ‘trans’. You can also pick the nature of your relationship, which can be anything from ‘romantic’ to ‘polyamorous’ to ‘will work it out with my partner’. “We don’t want people to be judged or shamed for having alternate desires.”

The Amour team also wanted to step away from the body shaming, racism and ageism that is rife across many dating sites. “There are no questions that require you to describe physical appearances and features, fill in racial identity, caste or any such markers because we don’t have any negative attitudes in this happy place,” Karan says.

Dolly and Karan are off to Kerala next month for the Pride March, before heading to Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad and other Indian cities to promote their platform and host speed dating nights.

“If you want Amour to come to your city, just let us know and we’ll be there,” says Dolly, ensuring that this monsoon, we don’t leave rainbow spotting to chance.

Getting there: Go here for their FAQs page and detailed guidelines, write to them here on Facebook to be added to their secret page.

Photo credit: Bangalore Pride 2015

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