Let’s start with what HASN’T changed
Queer dating has always required putting in some effort and has typically been much more challenging than straight dating. Even before online dating became ubiquitous, successful queer dating typically required a willingness to put oneself out there and be present somewhere, be that a physical location or an online one.
The most gregarious queer people might frequent queer nightclubs and bars for example, whereas the more socially anxious types might use forums to connect with people online.
The classic romantic comedy cliché of a ‘meet-cute’ in a library, museum or bookstore has always been pretty much out of the question for many queer people. Forget easy-peasy ‘meeting through a friend’ tropes and workplace romances, they’re primarily for straight people.
This is because when you’re in a sexual orientation minority, the issue isn’t ‘what if they don’t fancy me?’ so much as ‘what if there is literally no chance that they could EVER fancy me?’
Today, as ever, seeking a partner usually requires more than just luck for queer people; a preconceived intent and strategy is often needed.
Queer dating was always tougher than straight dating, but it’s getting easier
Ok, maybe ‘easier’ is a tiny bit optimistic, but there more options than ever before, and the digital age is a huge part of that. Apps have normalized seeking new partners as a hobby, and the gamification and continuous improvement of the UX make them fun to use. Queer people have always had to make an effort when it comes to dating, but nowadays the tools at our disposal are so much better.
Modern dating apps and websites are packed with features to maximize our chances of finding an ideal partner. There are filters that make it simple to sort matches. It’s easy to label yourself as straight, gay, bisexual or pansexual so that anyone browsing your profile will see pertinent information before reading on.
You can choose to reveal whether you are cis or trans, should you wish. Some sites offer an option to answer questions pertaining to matters such as kink, sexual exploration, and open-mindedness, and will match you with potential suitors accordingly.
There are still some queer-specific challenges when it comes to dating
Not all queer people are lucky enough to be in an environment where it is safe for them to be ‘out’. For this reason, handling baggage connected to identity could impact dating for some queer singles also.
Barrett Pall sums it up in his Huffington Post piece ’10 Reasons Why Gay Dating Is Really Hard’. “We feel like we have to hide a part of ourselves every day for many formative years, which means we are neglecting other parts of ourselves that should be receiving precious energy,” writes Pall.
“So when we finally do come out, we often confuse this as dealing with our issues, when in fact, this is just the beginning to dealing with what our issues really are.”
Queer people often excel at some aspects of dating many straight people find tricky
Queer people tend to be better at setting expectations. “While things like consent, communication, and kink have entered conversations about sex on a grand scale, some aspects of these things are just baked into queer sexuality,” writes Ariana DiValentino in Greatist.
Di Valentino continues; “When there’s no set script for a standard sexual encounter — who does what and to whom — it’s liberating. And it makes communication, exploration, and mutual comfort absolutely fundamental.”
Since queer people tend to have practice with talking about boundaries and risk factors upfront, the queer community was arguably better prepared for navigating dating during the pandemic than the straight community was.
It’s a tough time to be dating, and many people are routinely discussing exposures and recent partners before so much as an in-person date. The sex-positive attitudes of queer dating typically support open communication, which helps when navigating sex and intimacy during COVID-19.
Just like any kind of dating, it takes patience and perseverance to find connection
The truth is, no amount of dating apps and algorithms are ever going to make queer dating completely effortless. There is no silver bullet, and you must put in the time to find a meaningful connection, which includes assessing priorities, managing expectations and communicating well.
Sometimes it can seem challenging, but that is true for dating and relationships everywhere. And it’s what makes it SO rewarding when you meet a queer sweetie who is just perfect for you! So hang in, it’s all worth it in the end!