Is dating redundant for queer guys?
When I’m at the gym, one of my tactics for buying a bit of extra recovery time is to ask my work-out buddy Ro — who’s straight — about his dating exploits. He’s dating fairly prolifically, and there’s usually a fair bit of drama involved.
Ro usually ignores any dating advice or suggestions that I try and give him. He affectionately dismisses my counsel with something along the lines of — “You’re gay, it’s different for you.”
I guess he’s right. In many ways, dating is different for queer guys — the reality and rules of our relationships can often be almost unrecognisable from the Hollywood version of dating that straight guys like Ro seem to aspire to.
The casual and open nature of guy-on-guy of hookups, sexual encounters, and some relationships can be incredibly liberating, but for many people the ups and downs of trying to meet other guys can be a frustrating and isolating experience.
Learning from our past
For queer guys, hooking up has always required a bit of ingenuity. Tactics included signals, codes, a secret language, beats, and cruising grounds. In life before the internet, personal ads were one strategy – writing letters, waiting for responses – the success rate was low, but it must have seemed like it was worth the effort.
With the decriminalisation of homosexuality in countries like the UK, the rise of LGBTQ bars and safe spaces made it easier for queer people to meet each other – drawing queer people together in the bigger cities, creating a queer ‘scene’ and a sense of community.
Unleashing the power of dating apps
The rise of the internet and the shift to online dating sites such as Gaydar was a huge leap forward from the days of the personal ads. This evolution of queer dating was accelerated even further by the emergence of the smart-phone and the innovation of location-based dating apps – a total game-changer.
Location-based dating apps enabled you to quickly and easily identify guys who were close to you that were looking for a hookup. A quick chat, and if you were both on the same page, then you could quickly sort out the logistics. The power of smart-phones making it surprisingly easy and convenient to have sex, wherever you are. When I first showed my work-out buddy Ro how location-based dating apps worked, he was a bit dumbstruck, silently processing the power of the technology, getting to grips with how easy it is for queer guys to have casual, no-strings-attached sex.
Looking for something more than a hook-up?
But what do you do if you want more than just a quick, one-off sexual encounter. What if you actually want to find that special someone – someone to go out for dinner with, to the movies, or a weekend away on a romantic mini-break? What do you do if you’re not into bars, clubs, or casual on-line hookups?
I’m not claiming to be any sort of queer-dating expert, but here’s four lessons that I’ve learnt from many years of experience and the occasional heartbreak.
Get out there
You’re not going to meet anyone by sitting at home in your flat, eating ice-cream, looking out the window, and listening to Adele’s latest album on repeat. Finding someone that you want to spend time with takes some effort, and you have to put yourself into situations where you’re meeting new people.
Meet new people
As a general rule, your friends aren’t going to have sex with you. It can be comfortable doing the same old things with people that ‘get you’ and make you laugh, but if you want to make a change in your life then you need to push yourself to be doing new things, in different places, with people you haven’t met before.
Try something different
Take up a new activity that puts you in contact with other LGBTQ people. This could be a queer sports club, a community organisation, a singing group, a charity, or why not go on a group vacation or expedition aimed at queer people? You may not want to sleep with any of the people that you meet, but dating is a bit of a numbers game.
Don’t take it personally
Don’t take it too seriously if it doesn’t work out. Queer guys are notoriously flighty and flakey. Enjoy the moment – enjoy your time together. If one of you decides that it’s time to move on, it’s okay to be upset or disappointed, but it’s not the end of the world. Pick yourself up and put yourself back out there.