When serial entrepreneur Sunali Aggarwal’s friends narrated their experiences of being ridiculed for expressing themselves and faced challenges to find partners for long-term relationships, she had an idea.
Realising the innumerable dating platforms for straight users and a dearth of safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community, Aggarwal stepped in to assume the role of a ‘no-pressure’ zone for all queer members. She began working on a new app As You Are (AYA) where they have the freedom to meet like-minded people who are vocal about their sexual identities.
Although the decriminalisation of Section 377 has been a step in the right direction, Aggarwal feels that various stigmas still exist that prevent them from being just the way they are. Physical spaces are not as welcoming for the LGBTQ+ community, which is why they have a natural inclination towards digital platforms.
Safety of the users is of utmost priority for Aggarwal, who has ensured that those on the dating app have complete control over the details they want to put out. What also stands out is the sensitive approach that the app has adopte. Unlike other dating platforms, users can choose not to upload their photographs to maintain anonymity.
The app that was officially launched in June 2020 amid the pandemic, has witnessed a heartwarming response from those who are looking to find queer partners. Aggarwal hopes to introduce match-making services for them in the future.
(Interviewed by Geetika Sachdev; Video produced by Manasi Phadnis and edited by Venkatesh)