By: Mike Givens/TRT Assistant Editor—
Ruben Jauregui, CEO and founder of GayBFF, a new social media application, discussed his new app with The Rainbow Times and his hopes for the social network. Unlike apps like Tinder, Grindr, and several other social media platforms, GayBFF is solely for seeking platonic relationships, not sexual encounters.
Q: How old are you? What’s your professional background?
A: I am 34 years old. I have been in the commercial real estate industry in Houston for almost 14 years. For the last 10 years, I have worked for one of the most recognized environmental consulting firms in Texas. I help lead our team to success by mentoring and developing them to maximize our impact in the commercial real estate community.
Q: Could you tell our readers about the process to create the app? Did you do it alone or were you supported by others? Did you receive any sort of funding?
A: I, myself, have always struggled to meet other LGBTQ friends without going to a nightclub or bar. One day, I was watching a television interview with Laverne Cox that focused on trans rights. As I listened to her speak, I found myself wondering where people in the trans community go to meet other trans people and allies. As a tech-minded millennial, I was dumbfounded. I realized there were no social networking apps for anybody in the community to meet like-minded peers. I decided that I needed to do my part to help change that.
The vision for GayBFF was my own, but I had a lot of help with my execution. I contracted [with] Appzio to develop the app; friends help[ed] me with editing and content marketing; my cousin handles the graphic design; and my partner helps me with everything [information technology] related. It’s definitely a group effort!
I personally fund GayBFF, but I am open to partnering up with interested parties who would like to financially back GayBFF.
Q: As of today, do you have an estimate as to the number of downloads the app has gotten?
A: Since the app launched on April 4, over 6,000 users have downloaded GayBFF.
Q: What feedback have you received thus far?
A: Not two days after we launched, we were featured in The Huffington Post—Queer Voices. I encourage everybody to check out their Facebook page—a lot of the comments are very encouraging. I have also had the opportunity to read what people in the community have had to say on social media, and most of the feedback has been very positive!
Q: Could you share your perspective on hookup culture and the need for an app like this?
A: It is still dangerously alienating to go through life as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. According to The Huffington Post—Highline, we are between two and 10 times more likely than our straight peers to take our own lives, and we are twice as likely to have a major depressive episode. In my opinion, this “hook up” culture that we have created is not always healthy for us—for many reasons—and can ultimately perpetuate our loneliness. I created GayBFF in order for us to create a supportive community with each other as well as our straight allies.
Q: Do you think that some people will download the app and use it for casual encounters and no-strings-attached sex regardless of the explicit focus on platonic relationships? If so, how do you feel about the app being used for that purpose?
A: Since I launched GayBFF, this question has been asked frequently on social media. Obviously, there is no way for us to control its direct usage, but I will definitely encourage our users to report any incidents of inappropriate behavior. We also monitor our users’ profiles for inappropriate sexual content. I developed GayBFF for those of us in the community—and our straight allies—looking for platonic relationships. GayBFF is so much more than a social networking app, and will change the way people meet.
Q: Any other thoughts you’d like to share about this app? Do you think it will rival the likes of Tinder or Grindr?
A: To compare GayBFF to Tinder or Grindr would be [like comparing] apples [and] oranges. Tinder and Grindr are great options for getting dates and “hooking up,” but not ideal for making friends. I developed GayBFF for those of us in the Community and our straight allies looking for platonic relationships.
GayBFF can be downloaded wherever you download apps on your smartphone.