Thurst Prepares For Launch: The First Dating App for Queer People of All Genders

My hope is that we can allow folks to express the truths of their existence and be their full selves while seeking to connect with others.

by Morgen Bromell on July 25th, 2016

My name is Morgen Bromell and I’m the founder of Thurst, the first dating app for queer and LGBTQ people of all genders. In a world where dating and love is dictated by Western heteronormative standards, and marginalized queer people are made invisible in terms of affection and desire, I’ve always felt this app is beyond necessary. After nearly a year of brainstorming, prototyping and development, Thurst will be released in late summer 2016.

The aim from the beginning has been simplicity and ease of use, paired with security and a sense of community. Thurst is looking to create a space for folks to connect outside of the oppressive, rigid expectations of our society. I have always centered and prioritized trans folks and especially trans women, who face unparalleled levels of violence. These are essential principles, and embracing non-mainstream understanding of how to care for people has influenced the ways I envision Thurst, as not only an app, but a platform for cultural change. My hope is that we can allow folks to express the truths of their existence and be their full selves while seeking to connect with others, however that may look for them.

A banner image for Thurst, reading: the first dating app designed for queer people of all genders. An iPhone is displayed with a mock user profile: "Sanna, Queer Trans Demiboy, 20 year old day-dreamer in Oakland, CA."

I am personally the most excited to have people finally using the platform. The initial features are simple matching and messaging, paired with basic security precautions and features, like user reporting and blocking. A few months ago, I was super tempted to include everything under the sun, but after doing some user research and evaluating what would be realistic given constraints, keeping the core functions and iterating over time seemed like the most responsible thing. At launch, the beta will be simple in design and light on features until we have the capacity to grow and scale.

However, what’s really exciting about Thurst isn’t our features – though that’s part of it – but the community it will finally be able to serve and connect. What makes this platform unique and essential is the thousands of people who have supported the idea. What keeps me going each day is the knowledge that so many folks have taken time to share with their friends, told their colleagues, and advocated on the behalf of this app – the collective support and energy is invaluable for me as a startup founder.

There’s so much that I’ve learned as a young, black queer gender queer founder about community, support and self-care. One key concept is that progress relies on finding a balance between capacity and the desire to overwork to produce expected results. A really reassuring thing I was told recently is that the first release will always suck. That was deeply comforting, in an industry that expects black and brown technologists to overperform and uphold this unrealistic standard of near-perfection. I’ve taken the time to actually breathe, understand that all things come in time, and that cis white startup culture methodologies would not and could not work for my young black queer body. I’ve learned to work for myself and not for some invisible white hand or future VC. My thought process now centers community involvement and support. By embracing ways to decolonize the funding and support pipeline, I found alternate ways of potentially avoiding having to compromise the integrity of Thurst altogether.  

I’m forever thankful for the many black and brown radical technologists who have given me advice, helped me problem solve, or just listened during a tough time; in the past, I was taking notes from folks who didn’t have the navigate the same challenges as me, in terms of acquiring funding or getting access to spaces, conferences, and events. It can be extremely frustrating to watch other projects and apps created by white men get funded pre-release while literally dedicating your entire existence and income to a project that arguably will impact many marginalized lives, but I’ve been held by so many community members and fellow technologists of all backgrounds, who saw the goal and encouraged me to keep going. There’s this toxic yet pervasive individualist narrative that exists in tech culture around struggling alone until you make it, but as a queer person of color, that felt incongruent with how I’ve learned to sustain communities, spaces, and work projects. There’s something really beautiful about having many hands collectively working towards the same goal.


How to Support Thurst:

Currently, I’m looking for support to launch Thurst and guarantee at least 6 months of operating costs, from cloud server fees to data analysis to determine how to best implement new features and safety protocols. Any donations to would be beyond helpful and I would be infinitely grateful! Thurst, from its inception, has been very grassroots and community funded and supported, and my hope is that it’s able to stay that way.

As a thank you for your support, any contributors to the Patreon campaign will receive Thurst stickers, a shirt, or a personal note of appreciation from me. I’m beyond humbled by the support this app has received already from the community and I’m thrilled to continue to create and envision a better online experience for queer folk. As always, feel free to reach out to me directly on Twitter (@MorgenBromell) – I’d love to talk with anyone who has supported or is interested in Thurst!