A super app for all things queer: Pride+

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With services such as mental health support and therapy, dating, social media, job listings, upskilling, clothing, art selling and buying, and entertainment, Pride+ aims to offer a one-stop-shop for the LGBTQIA+ community.

A 2021 survey across 27 countries by global market research firm Ipsos revealed that 80 percent of people identified as heterosexual, three percent as homosexual, four percent as bisexual, and one percent each as pansexual, asexual, and other. When it comes to India, in 2012, the government claimed there were 2.5 million gay people in the country, based on individuals who had self-declared to the Ministry of Health.

However, the stigma against the community continues and there are hardly any ‘safe spaces’ for LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Mumbai-based Aayush Agrawal—theatre-nerd, filmmaker, and state-level dance champion—is working to change this.

It all began with an email he received at his last workplace. The human resource department wanted employees to refer “handicapped, female or LGBTQIA+ candidate” for a role. Successful hires would result in a referral bonus. “I was furious… to treat people from the community like a trophy,” Aayush tells YourStory. Then, he was shaken by an advertisement featuring a group of transgenders in which a gay teen confessed he was refused photography classes due to his sexual orientation.

Another shocking moment came after a conversation with a friend from the LGBTQIA+ community on how intersex people didn’t have access to appropriate intimate clothing. Aayush’s research told him they either depended on do-it-yourself methods or just compromised to wear what was available.

In 2020, Aayush began building a go-to-platform for queer people and started working on Pride+, a super app that would cater to everything anyone in the LGBTQIA+ community would need. A product of Pranah Sandbox—incorporated by Aayush in February to create a sustainable and inclusive platform that would allow fair services to be accessible to all—it is currently in stealth mode.

The app provides a bouquet of services including mental health support and therapy, dating, social media, job listings, upskilling, clothing, art selling and buying, and entertainment—all for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Pranah Sandbox is also host to LAMP Studios (a video-production studio), and consumer ergonomic products company WorkHealthy.

Set to be launched later this year, Pride+ has a six-leg marketing plan in place, says the founder. “The app will be available for iOS and Android devices initially. Then, it will be launched worldwide, with a few exceptions including China and North Korea.”

An inclusive super app

Pride+ wants to be the go-to platform for any and all needs of the LGBTQIA+ community.

It will provide counselling and therapy, and help individuals document their ‘coming out’ in any form—text, audio, visual and video—and release it on the app’s social platform.

Pride+ also aims to help tackle bullying and harassment at school, colleges, or workplaces, and guide them to initiate a conversation at home, workplace, or even in the neighbourhood, and fight gender identity crisis.

“The few platforms available either do not exclusively cater to the community or are ridiculously expensive. We provide the first session for free, and then charge less than 1/10th of the standard market cost (usually $200+),” Aayush explains.

At present, he is in talks with two companies to integrate mental health support on Pride+. Healthtech startup Evolve is also working towards providing accessible mental health solutions to the community.

When it comes to dating, global platforms like Tinder and OkCupid cater to all genders and are trying to be more inclusive and queer-friendly. More popularly, there is Grindr, which is an all-male dating app for cis and trans men.

But there are no dating apps for the LGBTQIA+ community in general and Pride+ aims to fill this gap. “The app will be safe, secure, and private. Builder.ai and we have worked on this very thoughtfully. Neither will there be ads or selling of user data, nor a lack of resources to report anything that makes a user feel uncomfortable,” Aayush explains.

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