China’s Largest Gay-Dating App is Transforming Society


Ma Baoli, better known as Geng Le, is one of the four Grand Marshals leading New York’s Pride Parade this year. But in the country he comes from, being gay is still a social taboo. The CEO of a Beijing-based internet company is on a mission to improve the lives of millions of gay men in China. Ma’s company Blue City runs an app and a website specifically for gay men. Blued is one of the biggest gay social networking apps in the world, with an estimated 30 million registered users. Unlike most other apps, Blued is more than just dating or hookups. Back in 2000, when Ma studied at a police school in northern China, he realized he didn’t feel like everyone else. After visiting some foreign websites with different attitudes to homosexuality, Ma created his own site for a Chinese audience, encouraging people that… Even though attitudes towards homosexuals are slowly changing in China, it’s still a social stigma. The virtual world of Blued, where members can be open about their sexuality, is for most a striking contrast to their real lives. This is livestreaming, a function added to Blued in late 2015, right as the Internet craze was starting to take off in China. Many self-made stars like Jin make decent amount of money by receiving audience’s virtual currencies and gifts. For Kyle and Klaus, a couple who have come out, livestreaming on Blued means something different. The government’s rules for “acceptable” content online may shift quickly in China, with LGBT materials in a grey area. Many companies feel the chill of the recent Internet crackdown, but Blue City still runs as usual. Ma has won the Chinese government’s trust by helping with HIV prevention among gay men. A third of the company’s staff are dedicated to screening pornographic and politically sensitive content. In the past five years, Blue City has grown from a team of seven people to a promising business with about 250 staff. Ma said the company earned over $15 million last year mainly through advertising and selling virtual currencies to livestreaming audience. Now the company is expanding overseas.

51 Comments

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *