Should we have dedicated features for LGBT+ members?

This has been touched upon in several topics so far.

In How can we prevent inappropriate behavior? I suggested we could set up Gender preferences in a way so you could limit your usage of the app to interacting with members of your gender declaration. I think that could be a great feature for members that don’t identify as heterosexual and want to connect within their communities.

But it could also introduce too much separation to the platform. I personally really like the one big circle approach. Maybe we should rather think of dedicated safety aspects? What do you think of this or other features for communities outside the traditional gender binary?


I’d like to add to this discussion.

We recently discussed a safety feature, which is submitting an SOS message to the local moderators in the town you’re in. Alongside this message field is an option where you can pick if you “Want to be contacted by a person of the same gender” only.

Because I don’t have much insight into the problems that LGBTQ users might face, I’d like to ask if there’s anyone relevant here who may be able to provide insight on whether a feature like that would be useful for the LGBTQ community, and how we can improve on it. :slight_smile:


Tough one, this.

Personally I don’t feel the need to create special privileges for people based on whatever because I live by the rule of ‘we all piss and shit’ (excuse the language), hence I try and treat everybody equal.

That said, I have little knowledge of the LGBQT world so I am open to inside views and experiences.


Not LGBTQ, but personal thoughts:

I suggested we could set up Gender preferences in a way so you could limit your usage of the app to interacting with members of your gender declaration. I think that could be a great feature for members that don’t identify as heterosexual and want to connect within their communities.

But it could also introduce too much separation to the platform. I personally really like the one big circle approach.

And therein lies the problem. You want safety features. You don’t want safety features in a small community that turns it into several smaller communities. It’s like Trustroot tribes, but worse. Maybe that makes sense to revisit part a certain critical mass, but not right now.

We recently discussed a safety feature, which is submitting an SOS message to the local moderators in the town you’re in.

I would think that a safety feature should be available to all guests and all hosts, for that matter. Yes, marginalized groups are certainly more likely to need that assistance. But it makes sense for everyone to have that valve.

Alongside this message field is an option where you can pick if you “Want to be contacted by a person of the same gender” only.

See previous thoughts on that.

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Hey Gene, welcome to the Couchers community!! :relaxed: :wave:t2:

I think there might be a misunderstanding from my previous post - this safety feature is for ALL USERS, ALL USERS would be able to submit a message request that goes to a locale’s moderators, if they feel that they are feeling threatened and need someone in the community to help them.

Because for situations where things might be more sensitive, e.g. sexual harassment, a female user might for example want to only be contacted by a female local moderator. This is optional and is an option for ALL USERS. So no, it’s not only for marginalised groups.

I am specifically asking the LGBTQ community (hopefully there’s someone on the forum here) if there is a way we can make them more comfortable using such a safety feature - or in any other areas of the platform, for that matter - because I think we’re lacking some representation from that community within the team.

Hope that clarifies! :+1:t2:


what @Niek said.

And I would like to add: ask the people involved.
We - hetero’s - should not pretend to know their opinion.


Awesome! Thanks for for the clarification on both halves. Apologies if I contributed to a derail.

How about having a :rainbow: on the profile? It wouldn’t necessarily need to mean that you identify as lgbt+, but that you belong with the community.

edit: I kind of tried this out on Trustroots, they have a tagline field and when you use it with emojis, it’s more or less presented like badges/stickers on your profile. Realized one sticker looks weird, but something more like three can look nice:


So I’m having this calm, homey lifestyle right now. But could have many combinations there, like

:biking_woman: :deciduous_tree: :mountain:


:world_map: :partying_face: :ramen:

Could this be a fun way to give some flavour to profiles in list views or else? Could also be a way how to visualize the proposed personality test? Well, like this it would be more expressive about lifestyle choices.


Love the idea of emojis, @nolo, but wish it could be searchable during a host search! Not sure we’ll be able to achieve that with anything other than keywords or questions… but the emojis are super cute!!


I think people should be allowed to express themselves however they like on their profile (within the ToS and policies), and I think it’s great if people share that they’re LGBTQ+ friendly in their profile. However, I’m not sure we should have an optional LGBTQ+ “badge” or symbol integrated into the profile. I think our platform should be inclusive and embrace the LGBTQ+ community by default.

I understand that everyone has varying levels of experience/background with the LGBTQ+ community and that sexual orientation is an important part of people’s identity. I think it’s great if people share their background, interests, and values in their profile, but I’m worried that badges or symbols related to sexual orientation (whatever that orientation may be) might cause more problems than they solve.

With that said, I think there are a number things we can and should do to support the LGBTQ+ community:

  • A statement of inclusion when a new member joins
  • Create a moderation policy that ensures that any discriminatory or otherwise anti-LGBTQ+ posts, commentary or messages are not tolerated
  • When requesting help from the safety team, allow users to specify their preference of who should handle their inquiry [M/F/non-binary/LGBT].
    • Of course this will be dependent on availability, but we can encourage on-boarding of members of the LGBTQ+ community to ensure we have a diverse safety team.
  • Encourage onboarding of members of the LGBTQ+ community into the various teams that help run the platform.
    • Of course this is easier said than done, but this is something we should strive for.

Hi Nolo,
It looks like I’m “the only gay in the village”. So here’s my answer. In Couchsurfing, there were lots of threads in groups about if people should say about thier sexuality. It appeared that if people were open about their being gay/lesbian , they had lots of troubles in geing hosted apart from other gay/lesbians. My own experiences as an old gay couple in Couchsurfing were that lots of people in the 50+ Traveller group paid lip service to GLBT , but when asked if they had real live GLBT friends in real life… silence. So, my feeling is that I’m in the same basket at vegans and whales . GLBT happened in Couchsurfing as sort of thing that people ought to support as it is a virtue signalling of being tolerant/progressive/accepting.
I guess there could be a gay or a lesbian group . But honestly, I wouldn’t burst my boiler over it.


Hi, it seems that some more LGBTQ+ input is needed, so here it goes mine, a bisexual trans woman.

I think a feature like this depends on what are you trying to say and/or limit, but could be a very good feature both for LGBTQ+ people as well as for women in general. One big difference you need to make is between “gender preference” as you stated, which would be about the gender of people you interact with, and sexuality/gender variance/etc which is a completely separate topic.

Some options:

  • Being able to select your relationship to the LGBTQ+ community as part of your profile information, and a criteria to use when looking for hosts/couches.
    • This alone could make the platform safer and more enjoyable for gender and sexual minorities.
    • I think that the rainbow flag on its own tells me nothing, I have very different expectations of somebody who is part of the community than somebody who just puts the flag never having interacted with a queer person.
    • I would instead at least 3 options: [I am part of / I have ties to / I am open to and willing to learn from] the LGBTQ+ community.
    • I would be tempted to offer the option to make this info private, but that can end up being worse than nothing, as an accidental leak could be dangerous in many contexts. Remember that in some countries, people are being sentenced to death for being queer, not to mention losing jobs, families, housing, etc.
  • This could also be used to limit out-of-the-blue messages, couch requests, etc, and I think it is specially important to provide a feature like this for women who don’t want randos creeping into their DMs.
  • There might be other uses for this that you were thinking about, but I can’t think of any now that would be particularly useful.

I believe none of this risks ghettoising the platform, and if some people use it that way it is their own loss. I believe that the safety of individuals is more important than aiming for some happy we-are-all-equal ideal, and definitely something that straight cisgendered men will have trouble understanding because most never had the need to even think about it.


Hi Tina! Welcome!!! Thank you very much for your insight and helpful suggestions!


Same to you, Philip and Hugh!! Your feedback and input is appreciated!

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I personally think having a orientation flag or field is perfectly fine as opposed to on CS where you can pretty much infer it, most of the time, rather just have that stated explicitly as opposed to implicitly.

In my experience, most LGBT people who are out might avoid going back into the closet, but don’t necessarily find it relevant when it comes to hosting. While I can’t say I have much experience as a guest in the last 15 years, I do know that as a host during that time, it’s always a personal choice to come out or discuss with guests. Sometimes it comes up organically, sometimes not at all, but I certainly wouldn’t bring it up unless it was clear they were comfortable with it.

I do know that LGBT people might face difficulty getting hosting unless from other LGBT people, but as a result most try to hide it or just make their own profiles as neutral as possible in order to raise their chances. This is all the case even in a gay friendly country where I live.

If anything, without being centrally LGBT focused, a “safe space” might be more appropriate and more all-encompassing (LGBT, religion, gender etc.). Though, admittedly I was very shrewd about vetting profiles as a hoster, and as a result I kept my profile as honest and open book as I could. I almost never had negative experiences. Having said this, surfers might encounter more issues about which I’m ignorant.

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Hi @oskyldig! Welcome to the community :slight_smile:

That’s interesting! Could you say more on that? How would you see a safe space within Couchers?

Not sure how much I could elaborate on that, but it’s something that is used in schools to indicate teachers have a no tolerance for certain behaviour (violence, harassment, hate speech etc.), the downside is it sort of oppositly implies that there are unsafe places. Many school environments try to implement no-tolerance policies about bullying but it’s often not effective as individual personalities may differ or people rather turn a blind eye than stand up. It’s a bit naive to think that an entire community can exist without, but I understand the ideal.

I think that safe space label on profiles is a bit more broad term that might resonate and be safer alternative to something LGBT-related. As others have said, being homosexual in a lot of places is unacceptable or punishable, but tolerance can not be defined or punished as easily. It kind of goes along with the idea that having thoughts isn’t necessarily bad, but acting on them is. The word safe space can resonate with LGBT-community members, or even people that have generally been bullied or harassed, or other minorities. It’s not one specific group.

As for creating a community, can’t say that I have an answer as I’ve never seen a community without some type of harassment. If you mean dedicated features it might be as simple membership to groups that aren’t visible publicly, but even then people can find what they are looking for in non-anonymous settings. Since I’ve never seen the solution myself, unfortunately my mind isn’t innovative enough to imagine it. As side-note, I think that’s something that lot of LGBT people grow up with thinking about: no matter where they are and how out and proud they are, there is always going to be times where they have to hide that part of who they are. As a result most get pretty good at code-switching.

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Yes, on the forum we decided against having different standards for that reason. Right now we have general Guidelines that address content standards everywhere. So far it works quite well, but it’s also a small community.

We also decided against having special groups with distinguished discussions on the forum, because we don’t want to segment the community. One thing we came up with instead is offering the option to have an ‘official’ notice for topics that address a specific groups’ concerns and want that to be especially respected: like this topic notice.

What I could imagine having on the app is dedicated support groups, like @support and @event_hosts and possibly several more. We could still just have one overall Support team. But users could address a specific group and only members of that specific teams would be notified.

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I agree with your suggestions. It is a very difficult question to answer. Even people who identify as LGBT (which includes me although I don’t usually want to be labelled unless it helps the discussion) have differing requirements and expectations. I like the idea of an all-inclusive approach where everyone feels valued and protected. This would obviate the need for gender and orientation based differences, unless people prefer to have it that way. Whatever is offered, there will be people who disagree. I like to be honest and provide true information about myself on my profile so that people who are not ok with this can save themselves and me the trouble of possibly complicated situations. On the other hand, there are people who are in cultures or situations where they cannot be so open about themselves on their profiles. How can they be made to feel welcome and/or protected ? I fear that this may be a topic which has no single correct answer.