You might not have heard of Alpha before this week; it’s not as ubiquitous as Grindr or Tinder. According to insiders, Alpha launched in 2021 and has 21 million users around the world.
We spoke with an Alpha user in Los Angeles, a 25 -year-old who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He’s in an open relationship and uses Alpha to find other partners. Like bars, every dating app has its scene, And the location on Alpha, this man says, is essentially a diverse group of individuals most looking for either hookups or a long-term relationship. It’s less shady than Grindr and more geared toward dating than hooking up, but obviously, people do both. People fill out their profiles rather than posting graphic photos.
This man feels a “racial divide” on dating apps. “I’ve had a lot of real racists— happen to me on Grindr and Scruff,” he tells us, comparing Alpha to other popular gay dating apps. Because Alpha has a large group of people of color, he says, “I don’t have to worry about that.”
Alpha is a location-based dating app, meaning users can scroll through about 400 profiles of other men on the app who are nearby. Users can browse by location or swipe right. Clicking on one allows you to open the complete profile.
Swipe right (if the user is interested) or swipe left ( if the user is not interested).
Like a lot of dating apps, Alpha has a free version and a paid version. With a free membership, users are limited in how many profiles they can view each day. They can message people without already “matching” or wait until a match is established and then start a conversation.
On Alpha, everyone posts their faces. He tells us.
When this Alpha user signed on to the app on Wednesday, he saw a message urging more love and less hate. For a lot of people his age and younger, he says, physical spaces such as gay bars and clubs “aren’t a part of their lives, so they can’t understand how important that can be.”
Instead, Alpha and other apps become “the entirety of their queer community.” Young gay men are creating community on a one-on-one basis, he says, mediated by the Internet. “I’m a hybrid,” he says, as someone who grew up on dating apps and going to gay bars. “I understand both senses of community.”