Whether you’re in a small town or a major city, there are other LGBT people near you. The hard part is actually finding them. There’s nothing more affirming than having a group of LGBT friends, but if you’re struggling to meet people near you, try finding friends online.
1) Find friends through Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.
One of the easiest ways to meet LGBT people online is through Facebook. It’s still possible for people to conceal their identity or present a false identity through Facebook, but it’s a little harder, and there are usually more red flags (an empty profile, no pictures, no friends). Search LGBT + [Your City/Closest Large City] or Queer Exchange [Your City] to find groups of LGBT people in your area.
Tumblr can be a mess. Tumblr is usually a mess. But if you start following LGBT blogs you like, send a message. There are even some Tumblr blogs dedicated to finding LGBT friends. Most Tumblr users are in their teens and early 20s.
Twitter can also be a good place to meet LGBT friends for all ages. Search tags you’re interested in, follow a group of people with common interests, and search for meet ups in your area.
2) Meet up with Meetup.com.
Meetup.com can be a little hit or miss, but try searching LGBT, queer, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender to find groups near you. You’ll find LGBT book clubs, hiking groups, improv groups, softball teams, foodies, bar hoppers, and more. If you’re not in school and you’re not meeting people at work, it’s a good way to find a group of LGBT people with common interests.
3) Try dating sites and apps.
A lot of people create dating profiles for the sole purpose of making friends, while others are open to new friendships and dates. State that you’re looking for friends in the first line of your profile. The dating app Her is geared toward lesbian, bi, queer, and trans women and non-binary people. OkCupid has the world’s greatest feature—“I don’t want to see or be seen by straight people.” OkCupid focuses a lot on compatibility questions and a lengthy profile, and has a wide selection of options for gender and sexual orientation.
4) Get out there with Empty Closets.
Empty Closets is an online forum for ages 13 and up, with a chat room for members who apply. The forum covers a ton of topics, from entertainment and media to coming out later in life. I’m always a little iffy about meeting people who are essentially anonymous in real life, so if you’re doing an in person meet up from Empty Closets, add someone on Facebook or get some proof they are who they say they are first.
5) For ages 13 to 24, try TrevorSpace.
TrevorSpace is a monitored youth-friendly site where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth ages 13 to 24 can connect with other young people throughout the world, and can get involved in their local LGBT communities.