What is Hornet? The gay dating app that lets you ‘sting’ men

Hornet – like Grindr and Jack’d – is a dating app for gay men, but with an added community edge, including LGBTQ+ news and city guides. Here’s all you need to know.

Launched in 2011, Hornet is self-billed as the “world’s premier gay social network”, which makes it “fun and easy for gay, bi and curious guys to connect with each other”

With more than 25 million users worldwide, the app is widely used in countries like the France, Brazil, Russia, and Turkey, and is popular with a niche UK audience.

On the app, guys can find men near them – like on Grindr – who they can then message or “follow” in order to receive updates when they make changes to their profiles.

Users can also search for men in different locations worldwide. Similarly to Grindr, guys can meet up for casual hook-ups – but the app also allows men to form friendships or lasting relationships with other users.

The app is also geared more as a LGBT+ community hub than Grindr. On top of dating, users can read LGBT+ news and city guides provided by Hornet’s in-house editorial team.

Related: Gay dating apps: A comprehensive guide to Jack’d, Grindr, Hornet, Scruff and the rest

What’s Hornet’s history?

Software entrepreneur Christof Wittig and activist and financier Sean Howell founded the app in 2011, with the mission to build the “digital home” for the gay community.

Since then, Hornet has grown steadily. The app has also made key acquisitions along the way in order to add to its offering.

These include LGBTQ+ online magazine Unicorn Booty, which provides Hornet’s editorial content, and gay city guide experts Vespa, who provide the app’s travel guides.

The app has a big following in countries like France, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, and Taiwan.

Where can you get Hornet?

Hornet is available as a free app on IOS, Android, and the web.

Who is the app specifically designed for?

The app targets a diverse range of gay, bisexual and curious men.

Still, Hornet’s editorial content appeals to the wider LGBT+ community, so Hornet could appeal to women and non-binary people interested in reading about LGBT+ issues.

There is an age limit of 18 or older for using the app.

Related: What is Gaydar? Does it work like other gay dating apps, and can I join for free?

How do users interact with the app?

Users can create interactive profiles to show off their main interests and hobbies.

The app has three key options: “guys”, which allows users to browse men near them; “stories”, where they can read Hornet’s in-house news and features; and “places” where users can read about LGBT+ venues and events in their city.

Guys can “follow”, “sting” or message other users, or forward profiles to friends who might be interested.

There are also options to have multiple pictures on user profiles – unlike on Grindr, where there is just the one – and to receive a push notification when someone messages.

Men can also search for other guys using hashtags – for instance, by sexual preference like #top and #bottom – and filter for the type of guy they prefer.

There is also an option for guys to include their HIV status and get reminders of when to get tested.

How does Hornet compare to other dating apps?

Hornet is most similar to Grindr in that the app allows you to find guys near you and message who you want.

Like Grindr, Hornet targets pretty much all guys into dating men, rather than having a niche audience like Jack’d, which is primarily for people of colour, or Scruff, which has been traditionally geared to older men.

Still, Hornet does seem to work more smoothly than Grindr, possibly because it was launched two years later.

The ads on Hornet are less intrusive, and users can include multiple pictures on their profile.

Related: These are the 30 most swiped right people on Tinder

You can get most features for free

The free app allows guys to message, “follow”, and “sting” other men.

It also allows users to search for guys in different locations; search using usernames and hashtags; filter for certain preferences, like age; and read the app’s editorial content.

The premium service, which starts from £4 a month for a yearly subscription, offers some extra features. These include allowing users to search with all the filters; setting more preferences; searching for guys invisibly; and seeing who has looked at your profile.

How has the app been received?

Hornet has a huge following in countries like Brazil, Russia, and Thailand – but it’s yet to pip Grindr to the post in the US and the UK.

In the media, Hornet has generally been well received – Forbes recently published an article lauding the app for having “the largest LGBTQ newsroom in the world”.

And, in 2015, Buzzfeed included Hornet in its list of the “world’s most popular dating apps for gay dudes”.

Still, there’s evidence to suggest that not all users have been loving the app.

In August 2016, US-based blogger and writer Renz Alfonso posted a poll on Twitter asking “Which gay dating app is the best?”out of Grindr, Tinder, Blued, and Hornet.

There were 1,422 responses and Hornet came last with just six per cent of the votes so the app has more work to do to gain a bigger audience in the States.