How do you meet guys in this new-normal world?
Meeting guys can be a bit of a challenge at the best of times, but add a global pandemic into the mix and it starts to feel as if the universe is conspiring against you.
Here’s a few suggestions on how to navigate gay dating in a post lock-down world.
Put your social media to work
Whatever social media platforms you’re focused on, look for a way to connect with people who are interested in the same sort of stuff that you’re into.
One of the most effective ways to do this is through Facebook Groups.
There’s a multitude of Facebook Groups – it can be a bit overwhelming.
One of our favourites is UK Gay Lads – it’s a group that has over 9K members. The chat in this group is focused around Fun, News, Gossip, Events, and Dating. It’s a moderated group, so that helps to keep conversations on tracks and avoid trolling or scammers.
Use the technology of your phone
Dating apps and hook-up apps were handy before Covid-19 changed the game, but we’ve really seen them come into their own.
Dating apps such as Gaydar are a great way to connect with guys in your area, start conversations, exchange photos, and see where things take you.
If ever you were going to dive in and set up a profile, this is the time to do it.
Take a walk in the park
Cruising is one of our most enduring traditions, but it takes a bit of practice. What you’re looking for are those spaces where men can find each other for some anonymous fun. Traditionally, good cruising spots have been public toilets, adult bookstores, truck stops, and parks.
You might need to do a bit of research to find your closest park that has some good cruising action. Search for online guides, and ask around. Generally, you’re looking for somewhere that has a few trees, maybe has a public toilet, is a bit secluded, and seems to have a lot of men not necessarily in a hurry to leave the area.
Have a drink in a gay bar
If gay bars are open where you are, they’re going to be needing your support. One of the main reasons that gay bars exist is to help bring us queer folk together.
If you see a cute guy at the bar, offer to buy him a drink? What’s the worst that could happen?
Talk to strangers
It’s great to hang out with your friends, but – as a general rule – your friends aren’t going to have sex with you. To meet guys who you might want to date, you’re going to have to talk to people that you don’t know.
“I learned a while back that every gay man has a scared insecure 17-year-old girl trapped inside him…” explains marketing executive, David Hermann. “With that knowledge, I can talk to just about anybody. Lots of times the hotties don’t even realise that they’re a catch!”
You don’t need corny chat-up lines, just be relaxed and be yourself. A great way to initiate a discussion is to ask a question – smile, laugh, be interested in what people are saying.
Get to work
Making the decision to be open about your sexuality at work can seem a bit daunting, but it’s actually a pretty safe thing to do.
In most western countries, you’re not only protected by solid anti-discrimination legislation, but companies are falling over themselves to create a diverse workforce, and to support their LGBTQ employees.
If you’re working in any kind of largish organisation, chances are that there will be an LGBTQ-employee network in your workplace.
“Joining the bank’s LGBTQ-employee network was a real eye-opener for me…” explains Paul Skovron, who works for a bank in Scotland. “Not only did I get to meet people from across the business and make some great friends, it raised my profile within the organisation and gave me exposure to senior management.”
That all may be a bit trickier to navigate over a video call while you’re working from home, or it might be easier. Put a few rainbow flags in the background and people will soon get the idea.
Around the world there are lots of LGBTQ sports clubs, teams, and associations. Not only are LGBTQ sports clubs a great way to keep active and improve your health and fitness, they also provide a range of social events and opportunities to meet people in your area with similar interests.
LGBTQ sport is surprisingly well-organised, and there are heaps of competitions around the world that sports teams travel to on a regular basis.
“In addition to being a water polo club, the team is really a very large group of tightly-knit friends…” explains James Mullen, talking about his water polo club, the Toronto Triggerfish. “For most of us, our teammates also constitute a large portion of our social life.”
The great thing about LGBTQ sports clubs is that they generally welcome people of all levels and abilities. So, even if you’re not the most confident or accomplished sportsperson, there’s bound to be beginners’ sessions or lessons that you can tap into.
Obviously, a lot of sport hasn’t been able to happen during lock-down but start doing the research and making contact with the sports clubs you might be interested in joining. Find out if they’re planning an intake of new members and what that might involve.
Try a bit of relaxation
This is not technically dating, but if you’re looking for a bit of intimacy in your life, book in for an erotic gay massage.
The isolation caused by this global pandemic has left a lot of us feeling isolated and missing the touch of another human.
An erotic gay massage has all the benefits of a regular massage, plus the masseur is naked, and there’s the option of a happy ending. That’s a good date.
The work of community organisations is incredibly inspiring. Whether they’re providing information and outreach, running health promotion campaigns, or providing support services for people who are having a tough time, community organisations rely on volunteers to keep operating on limited budgets.
Sign up to donate some of your time and energy with a local community organisation that matters to you. Not only will you feel good about doing something that helps others, but you’ll meet new people and expand your social networks.
“Volunteering can be a great way of meeting new friends without the pressure or sexual subtext that can come through meeting people on the scene or online…” confirms Monty Moncrieff of UK charity, London Friend. “When the focus is on giving your time to support others, you find that you engage differently, with people you might otherwise never meet, and get to know more about other people’s interests while giving something back to your community. Plus, it’s a great way to gain new skills and contacts.”
Sweat it out in a bathhouse
Sex-on-premises venues, bathhouses, and saunas are always a great option to explore – they’re ideal for a quick and no-nonsense hook-up.
Because of social or physical distancing regulations, sex-on-premises venues are still closed in many places but they are operating in some. Check out what’s happening in your local area.
Go to the gym
Getting to the gym and working out on a regular basis has lots of benefits. At a minimum, it will improve your fitness. Plus, research shows that regular exercise helps you to feel like you have more energy and will also improve your confidence.
Most gyms are fairly social places – you get to know the people who work out at similar times to you. If you seem friendly and approachable, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll find an opportunity to strike up a conversation at some point.
“The best way to start chatting with someone at the gym is to ask whether they’re still using a particular piece of equipment, or ask whether you can work in with them…” advises physiotherapist, Shih-Ming Yao. “I also tend to tease guys with little jokes such as – ‘You’re not going to get bigger legs lifting that!’ or ‘I know you’re stronger than that!’ A bit of banter gets you a long way.”
If your gym is still closed, there’s probably a group exercise option happening in your local park. There’s heaps of classes run specifically for gay men – the ideal opportunity to get hot and sweaty with a group of guys.
Get back in the swing of things
The isolation of lock-down might have left you feeling a bit apprehensive and anxious about everything. When it comes to sex, that can really mess with your head.
Why not get a sex-worker to help you build your confidence and get back in the game. Sure, a session with a sex-worker is a fairly transactional and isn’t going to lead to a long-term relationship, but if you need to feel the touch of another man then a sex-worker will tick that box without any drama.
Most cities will have some sort of gay networking opportunities. It could be a business network, a networking event over drinks, or outings to the movies or the theatre. Try a few different options and test which groups you best connect with.
Even if networking activity is currently restricted to meeting online, get onto it. Start putting yourself out there and making some new contacts.
Meeting guys involves putting yourself out there, feeling vulnerable, making mistakes, and suffering the occasional rejection.
“Your inner Gaydar is usually going to be pretty reliable – just by the way the guy stares at you, you know if there’s something there, so just ask!” advises PR specialist, Jose Correa-Rollano. “The worst thing that can happen is that the guy says no.”
There’s nothing easy about dating in our new-normal, but there’s never been anything easy about meeting guys for some fun or a bit more. If there’s one lesson that we should all be taking from this global pandemic is that we need to make the most of every day and every opportunity. Don’t sit at home waiting for hot guys to come and find you – get out there and let everyone know that you are open for business.