No one likes Republican dating websites but we keep getting more of them anyway

The Right Stuff is the latest of many doomed reactionary matchmaking efforts

A still photo taken from a promotional video by The Right Stuff, a new dating app targeted at Republicans (Screengrab via The Right Stuff)

Republicans love to mock people on the political left for supposedly needing “safe spaces” away from the general public, but when it comes to finding love online, they just can’t seem to resist creating their own private alcoves — regardless of how many times the idea has utterly failed over the years.

The latest effort is an app called The Right Stuff, co-founded by a former Trump White House official and funded by far-right billionaire Peter Thiel.

“We’re sorry that you had to endure years of bad dates and wasted time with people who don’t see the world our way — the right way,” a company spokesperson told potential users in a promotional video released Sept. 30.

In an essay for Newsweek, The Right Stuff co-founder John McEntee wrote that it was too difficult to find romantic partners who agreed with him on mainstream dating websites.

“Personally, I have never and would never date anyone who doesn’t share the same political views as me,” McEntee wrote. “When I filtered my settings to include conservative women from the ages of 21-29 … only a handful of users appeared.”

Despite proclaiming his desire to exclude progressive women from his personal dating pool, McEntee, the former Trump White House personnel director, said that he felt it was unfair that others would do the same to Republicans.

“Often, right-wing people don’t tag themselves as so, because other people may not want to match with them or could be mean-spirited towards them,” he argued.

Wanting to keep out the libs while crying about liberal exclusion is just one commonality that The Right Stuff has with its many predecessors in the reactionary dating space. And as far as the internet goes, it’s actually a pretty old one. As far back as 2006, right-wing radio host Sean Hannity used early dating-website-in-a-can software to power “Hannidate,” a sub-site dedicated to helping his super-fans hook up — once they’d faxed in a legal release form.

Hannidate became defunct more than a decade ago, but you can catch a glimpse of it via the ever-useful Internet Archive. Most of the profiles aren’t accessible, but the site’s homepage regularly touted a “featured profile” of what seems to have been an overwhelmingly male user demographic.

While targeted at Hannity listeners, anyone was able to sign up, including people looking for same-sex relationships, something the host said he was aware of in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. While Hannity was fine with lesbian and gay dating, the policy was controversial among some of his fundamentalist Christian fans.

“Why would any professed Christian take such a horrible sin as homosexuality lightly?” David J. Stewart wrote on his website, “In this woeful time of apostasy and attack against family values, why would Mr. Hannity even give place to this wickedness.”

Screenshot from the 2010-era Republican dating website ConservativesOnly.

 (Image via Internet Archive)

Hannity touted the site somewhat frequently after it launched and kept it online up until sometime in 2010 when it was put out of its misery. Aside from the little-noticed and astonishingly garish ConservativesOnly, Hannidate’s barely funded concept seems to have had no imitators until Donald Trump came along with a message of white Christian identity politics.

Since the failed casino owner descended his escalator to the applause of paid employees in 2015, there has been an explosion of right-wing dating apps. The first was Trump Singles, which seems to have launched in 2016. Notably, it did not allow users to seek lesbian or gay matches.

“I decided to grab the domain and make a place where like-minded people who share the same values could meet up and find a meaningful relationship without having to waste their time and money on dates with people who were intolerant of free thinking,” the Trump Singles founder said in an interview with the right-wing website Breitbart News.

Donald.Dating followed soon thereafter. Both sites were panned immediately for poor interface design, few real profiles, and constant attempts to sell add-on features. They disappeared shortly after launching, despite receiving a fair amount of media attention.

In 2018 came Trump.Dating, yet another site offering to help supporters of the most-hated politician in American history find love amongst themselves — unless they were lesbian or gay. While limiting itself to heterosexuals only, the site raised eyebrows for welcoming married users to seek new matches. The app didn’t last too long after Trump.Dating was exposed by a North Carolina local news station for featuring a man convicted of videotaping himself having sex with a 15-year-old girl.

A few months into 2018, DonaldDaters announced itself as yet another destination for Trumpy singles.

“For many young Trump supporters, liberal intolerance has made meeting and dating nearly impossible,” Emily Moreno, a former campaign staffer to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told a right-wing news aggregator.

It was a short-lived affair, however, after the site leaked all of its users’ private data on its launch date. After about a year and a half in business, the site seems to have become defunct in 2019.

Next in the procession of right-wing dating sites came Righter, a service which took exclusion to an entirely new level. Beyond refusing to match same-sex couples, Righter’s founder promised to sue Democrats who wanted to infiltrate the “culture of conservative, Christian, and American values” she was trying to establish.

“I have a very nice legal team that will be handling that,” CEO Christy Edwards Lawton told the Daily Beast, claiming she would have “zero tolerance” for lefties.

Even though it received copious amounts of media hype, almost no one seemed to be using the site a few months after its launch. “I think I met a troll,” one male user told Washingtonian magazine. After debuting in late 2018, Righter seems to have gone out of business in early 2020.

The latest incarnation of Trumpist dating seems to be heading for a similar end, judging from a story by the Daily Beast’s Zachary Petrizzo and Noah Kirsch, who reported that The Right Stuff is having difficulties convincing young Republican women in Washington to sign up.

One person who still seems on-board is The Right Stuff’s primary funder, Peter Thiel, who has not responded to several outlets’ requests to comment on the fact that the site he’s funded would not allow a gay man like himself to use it.


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