Designing Queer Connection: An Ethnography of Dating App Production in Urban India

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India is currently at the precipice of immense social and technological change. The proliferation of smartphones and growth of the nation's app economy raise questions about how digital platforms might influence the contours of love, sex, and desire in the region in the coming decades. This paper engages with these concerns by examining what it means to design intimate connection for LGBTQ communities in non-western spaces. Drawing on fieldnotes, app walkthroughs, interviews with mid-level and upper-level professionals in the dating app space as well as audiovisual material from advertising archives, this paper provides readers with a critical analysis of the “problem” of designing queer connection in a digital world of abundant data and transient identities. Carefully examining the production practices of Delta, India's first locally produced LGBTQ dating app I argue that there is a pressing need for scholarship on industry dynamics beyond western technology centers.

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