GalPal is the app you do not need or want

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Combine exploitation with tone-deafness and you have a recipe for my contempt. On that note, allow me to introduce GalPal, The New App you do not need or want. GalPal is a new and innovative way to turn gay men into accessories, make LGBTQ issues about straight people, and vigorously engage in lesbian erasure. Everything you need to know about GalPal is right there in the slogan:

“Because girls and gays get it.”

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What do girls and gays get? What about gay girls? Is that even a thing (yes)? I am a gay, and I am a girl, and I don’t get any of this. As everyone who reads this website knows, “Gal pal” is a term with a long and complex history in the lesbian community. It’s a term straight people (particularly straight media) apply to closeted lesbian couples. Or even non-closeted lesbian couples that the media has chosen to ignore because ew lesbians. GalPal is subtle form of homophobia. You’d think an LGBTQ app would know that, but then again this app was created by a straight girl who clearly didn’t do much homework.

Here’s my second gripe: although GalPal claims to be aimed at fostering friendships between straight and gay people, it’s press package suggests that GalPal is geared towards matching (CHIC, preferably minority) gay men with aspiring fag hags so they can take selfies and go to the mall. Oh, and if you’re a straight girl offended by the term fag hag: GOOD. I’m offended by the term GalPal and “allies” making LGBT issues about straight people. See, we’re bonding already! GALPALS WORKED!

Now, some of you might be like “Um, excuse me, you’re making this about you. OK, GalPals tried to be implicitly inclusive while ignoring women, but there are a lot of great friendships between gay men and straight women. This isn’t for you; they just didn’t want to be rude.”

Great point, imaginary reader! Contrary to what some might believe, I do not go around looking for reasons to yell at people. However, some things are so deeply obnoxious and insidiously offensive that I have no choice but to clap back. I’m sick of Silicon Valley (or heterosexual businesses in general) thinking they can slap “GAY” on a crappy product or concept and expect us to drool in gratitude.  I would never have learned about GalPal (every time I type that, I gag a little) had they not persistently requested press coverage from AfterEllen. A website aimed at LGBTQ women. If you ask for press coverage from a group you are disrespecting, you need to accept negative feedback. And I feel extremely disrespected. If you are not willing to listen to gay voices above straight voices when addressing LGBT issues, you are not a true ally.

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Also, since GalPal is supposed to match straight people with gay BFFs (vomit), does that mean lesbian users of GalPal will be paired with straight girls? I’m guessing they’ll be the type of girls who say ,“You’re so lucky you’re a lesbian, men are so hard.” Or would we be paired with straight men? OH GOODY. The day I download an app to meet straight men, I want you to take me out back and shoot me in the face. Newsflash: gay people have no difficulty meeting straight people. You’re a majority. There are too many of you. We want to connect with other members of our minority community, not give the oppressive majority an excuse to invade our safe spaces.

Here is the pitch I received in full so you, gentle reader, can make up your own mind about GalPal. Some annotations and comments by me because I couldn’t resist.

“GALPAL is the new friendship app that connects men and women seeking platonic relationships by matching straight and gay individuals. Centered on building real, meaningful, supportive relationships, GALPAL is not for hookups or cringe-worthy first dates.

It is the first app of its kind, created to help foster friendships and acceptance independent of sexual orientation. It is about trust and mutual support, ultimately aiming to develop stronger alliances between the gay and straight community.

Sassounian believes that in order to promote equality and acceptance, we must embrace both the differences and similarities between the straight and LGBTQ communities, by bringing these two worlds together, and for the right reasons.”

Let me take this moment to coin a brand new term: straightsplaining. When straight people lecture LGBTQ people on what they need. How is this any different than when white people tell the African-American Community who they are and what’s wrong with them? Why am I being subjected to empty, obvious platitudes? Way to rephrase something LGBTQ people have been saying and claim it as your own.

“GalPal founder Jasmine and her best friend now turned GalPal business partner Ian Maxion (who is openly out)…”

OMG OPENLY OUT GOOD FOR YOU HOW BRAVE. Also the phrase “openly out” is super redundant. Just saying.

”…want the app to be used as a tool built to cultivate strong friendships and support systems for both communities.”

Why are you enlisting gay people to support straight people do you not feel supported enough by total hegemony?

“GALPAL created its platform as a ‘safe zone’ for people who might be questioning their own sexuality or who are seeking advice and encouragement from other members of the gay community, or supportive straight friends.”

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AHA! This is what I mean by GalPal being about straight people making the LGBTQ issue about straight people. There are hundreds of websites and resources by actual queer people. Although the creators of GalPal clearly have good (if not utterly altruistic or well-conceived) intentions, it is ridiculous for a majority to market a product to a minority, supposedly for that minority, that is ultimately aimed at supporting the majority.

“The app was inspired by the knowledge that young people who are grappling with their sexuality might not have access to a supportive community or to the resources they need to ease a challenging struggle.

This is a mission close to Sassounian’s heart. Of Iranian descent, Sassounian is no stranger to homophobia and discrimination – both are still pervasive in her culture. Sadly, she tells about the story of one of her gay friends who has no choice but to have a secret relationship with his mother because his father disowned him when he found out his son was gay.”

Oh. My. God. So while the creator of GalPal has no firsthand experience with homophobia, she is “no stranger to homophobia and discrimination” because one time her friend experienced homophobia. That’s like me saying I’m no stranger to racism because a black friend experienced racism and told me about it. It’s utterly tone deaf.

“Naturally after hearing the many more stories of some of her closest male gay friends who struggled to find outlets to express themselves, she thought there should be more resources that focused on being a fun and open space for people of any sexual preference to develop friendships (while removing sex or hooking up as the intention) and not present gays as an accessory.”

Ok, so again, if this is an app that solely applies to gay men and straight women, why is it being marketed to lesbians as some sort of LGBT resource? Also, GalPal is absolutely presenting “gays” as an accessory.

“Similar to other dating apps, GalPal connects people based on geographical proximity and shared interests such as whether you enjoy drinks and dancing, eating out, attending art events or music festivals, watching films, shopping or traveling, with an additional option for people seeking support and advice. Like Tinder, the user simply swipes to find their perfect match.”

Do you LIKE FOOD? DRINKS? ART? MUSIC? FILM? SHOPPING? MOVING FROM ONE LOCATION TO ANOTHER? Do you long to hear a straight girl explain LGBT issues while holding her purse (her second most important accessory, the first being youuuuu) and then nodding and murmuring “She’s just jealous” or “He’s busy” so as to provide her adequate support? Then GalPal is for you!

We deserve better. We have better. GalPal is insulting and unnecessary.

In the fair of balanced coverage: I downloaded the app. It was easy and free. The app itself looks nice and does what it claims to do. I did not match with anyone because a. no and b. there are only a handful of users. If you really do want to use technology to meet straight people, I guess this is a way to do that. Now I’m off to start MY new app “BrownBuddy: For well-meaning white people to find their token black friend.” I think it’s going to be HUGE.

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