A pair of Australian app designers have launched a new tool to help LGBTIQA+ people navigate friendly services and places in the community.
Spectrum is an Australian market–first community app with a strong social purpose – to help improve quality of life for people who are isolated, closeted, or at risk.
The app provides tools and resources to support wellbeing and mental health as people navigate the confusing and sometimes dangerous realities of being queer.
For co-founders Matt Fiacchi and Tish Tambakau, consulting with the community has been imperative to the creation of Spectrum.
“As a queer person, I often find it difficult to gauge how ‘open’ I can be in an unfamiliar place,” said Fiacchi.
“Can I wear something that feels like ‘me’? Can I hold my partner’s hand? Will people judge me, or worse, abuse me?
“It’s a tough call sometimes, and making the wrong choice around the wrong people can have serious consequences.”
Spectrum’s range of features includes a user-generated map of venues rated on queer-friendliness.
More than just a map of gay clubs or established queer spaces, the Places feature is aimed at helping identify everyday venues where people can safely be themselves.
The app also includes a Library on topics surrounding mental health, sexual health, and queer issues.
Articles are written by members of the community or sourced from partnerships with queer and mental health organisations like Thorne Harbour Health, StartOut, and BeyondBlue.
Spectrum further includes mental health hotlines, emergency contacts, and other useful services that can be contacted from within the app.
Fiacchi and Tambakau showcased the app at Mardi Gras Fair Day this year to an “overwhelming” response, before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Not only did the pandemic have a huge impact on people’s health and mental wellbeing, but we also all collectively stopped being able to go places and see people, and so many businesses have also suffered as a result,” said Tambakau.
“Now, with most states in Australia slowly reducing restrictions on gatherings, we thought it was the perfect time to reintroduce our Places feature back to the community – to get them to start adding, rating, and visiting venues which they deem to be queer-friendly”.
Fiacchi said finding ways to connect is more important now than ever.
“We want to use our platform to inject some life back into the Australian queer community,” Fiacchi said.
“We hope that Spectrum is able to provide a way for people to come together again, support local queer businesses, and help the most vulnerable members of our community find safe spaces to be themselves, fearlessly.”
The Spectrum app is available now on the App Store and Google Play.