Where do you want to fly?
“People always say, ‘Oh, conservatives don’t know how to have sex.’ You wanna bet?”
Photograph by Lauren Bulbin.
Since Donald Trump took office, single Washington conservatives have struggled to make romantic connections. In such a heavily liberal city, right-leaning politics often mean a fast leftward swipe. Could a new dating app help?
Launched in December, Righter is specifically designed to enable MAGA meetups. I was curious to see what the action was like in our area, so I filled out the sign-up form and created an account. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. The landing page features a J. Crew-esque model wearing a stylish American-flag sweater and smiling invitingly next to his golden retriever—I can only assume both are named Max. The list of local men on the app turned out to be woefully short: roughly two dozen candidates. I could meet more conservative singles on any night in the basement of Hill Country.
Eager to hear about users’ experiences, I started swiping right on all of the DC-area profiles. (I made it clear I was a journalist working on a story rather than somebody actually looking to date.) After half a day and some false starts—Righter kept suggesting people who lived hundreds of miles away—I connected with a user named BaldNfit. I asked him how it was going so far. “I haven’t matched with anyone, as there are barely any individuals showing up as potential matches to choose from,” he wrote back. “Extremely low selection.”
Another man said he’d given up on regular dating apps a year ago. “None of the women wanted to get to know a Republican,” he wrote to me. Has Righter solved his woes? Not so far: “I think I met a troll. By the end of the day she was off the site.”
It seemed this idea wasn’t catching on locally as quickly as I’d thought. To find out what was going on, I called up founder Christy Lawton, a Republican political consultant in Wyoming, who has worked with Turning Point USA. Lawton explained that she created the app after Sarah Huckabee Sanders was kicked out of a Virginia restaurant, an event that infuriated Lawton to the point that she wanted to do something positive for her people.
When I filled her in on my new Righter pals’ less-than-action-packed experiences, she wasn’t worried. She blamed the long-distance matching on a bug—though a sub-sequent update didn’t seem to fix the issue—and said that after a few weeks the app already had thousands of users. If so, they mostly seem to live elsewhere.
But one thing the surprisingly sex-positive right-winger was adamant about: Regardless of whether Righter takes off, Trump lovers need to throw down, too. “Once you’re both safe, have at it,” Lawton said. “Have the most beautiful, uninhibited sex of your lives. People always say, ‘Oh, conservatives don’t know how to have sex.’ You wanna bet?”
This article appears in the February 2019 issue of Washingtonian.