As a single father who’d just moved to Cleveland, he’d had little luck with more mainstream dating apps and liked the idea of a little distance while he and his son adjusted to their new home.
Lee Young, the 72-year-old founder of gayprisoners.net, says his site is a “labor of love” and that he largely volunteers his time adding a handful of profiles each week, charging inmates to list themselves or to get special pages that can accommodate more photos and designs.“I pitch this as a pen-pal site, as a way to connect,” says Young.They were married at her prison in April; she gets out in October.“I can’t wait to do normal things with her,” Hake says.In some cases inmates pay nominal fees to list themselves; for those on the outside, corresponding with them is usually free.
Because of the low- to no-fee model—the fees cover costs such as servers and web hosting—operators say the websites don’t generate much money.
“We certainly understand each other’s lives,” he says.
“To be honest, since I’ve been out, it’s not impossible, but difficult, to relate to women outside who don’t understand.
The sites, he says, are “a small step toward positive change.
And we need change.”Compared with conventional dating sites, these are small-time, mostly subsistence businesses.
“Using a smartphone, going to the store, going out and eating together, like other couples do.” Friends, family, and co-workers have come to accept his new wife, but it’s been a struggle to find a landlord who wouldn’t balk at her criminal history (in the end, they got a house) and to finalize the paperwork that will allow her to leave Oregon while on probation.