Life as a gay man in China can be challenging enough – but one man has shown extraordinary courage with a new gay app.
Geng Le – the founder of China’s first gay social app, Blued – was never one to take the easy road.
Let alone risking all you have to build an empire around one basic concept: providing gay men innovative social spaces of their own.
When posed with the choice of keeping his respected job as a police officer in a coastal city near Beijing – and a stable marriage with his wife – or pursuing the gay blog he had been developing in secret on the side, Mr Le chose to risk it all.
About four years later, and backed by several recent successful investment rounds, he has built an empire now valued at $600mm.
This emergence of Blued as a major “against all odds” success story has been covered extensively by Western media, whose audiences would tend to assume such accomplishment would not be possible in a relatively socially conservative market.
Yet innovative features like live video streaming, temporary video messaging, and a central timeline for all you and your friends’ activities has facilitated a culture of socialising and interaction unprecedented for a gay app – not just in China, but anywhere.
“We’re finding that people have a bit of fatigue that there hasn’t been much innovation in gay apps over the past decade or so,” said Mr Le.
“Blued is designed to inspire more live interaction, that’s why people love the live video streaming and sharing features. It’s a refreshing break from the fairly one-dimensional ‘grid-and-chat’ format we all know so well.”
Live streaming on Blued in China has facilitated a bit of a celebrity culture, where sessions from top users can attract as many as two million users at a time.
The growing demand worldwide for these kinds of social features to be included in gay apps inspired the company to release a beta version of the app in the UK last month, available here.
So far, so good, according to the company.
Mr. Le said that initial response has been very positive.
“Our UK users appreciate the sociality of Blued.
“It’s a space to share, discover and socialise according to your actual life and who you are individually.