Dating is rough all around. It takes work for anybody to put themselves out there and be vulnerable in front of a total stranger, on the small chance the two of you might connect and ride off into the sunset together. But is being a queer individual an extra hurdle to jump over in the effort to find love? I say yes!
There are a number of things those in the LGBTQ community endure during their time on the dating scene. In fact, I have 8 of them listed below. Before you read on, keep in mind that the LGBTQ community is diverse and a few of these problems are directed more to some than they are to others.
Without further a due, here is a list of 8 dating problems the LGBTQ community faces.
“No Blacks, No Asians. Just a Preference.”
How many times have you read anything like that on a person’s dating profile? If you’re a gay man, the answer is probably more times than you can count. Racism is a rampant problem in the LGTBQ community. But none suffer more for their ethnicities than men of color. It is the norm to see men on apps like Grindr, Jack’d, Scruff, Bumble, and even Tinder dismiss entire groups of people based on their ethnicity.
Who gets hit the hardest? A recent study shows that 80% of black men, 79% of Asian men and 75% of South Asian men have all endured racism in their efforts to date. This racism isn’t always rooted in rejection – many people of color experience fetishization as well. Black men are messaged in hopes that they will be aggressive tops with massive members. Asian men are messaged because they seem “cute and submissive”.
Why has this become the norm in the gay community? The answer boils down to representation in media. In pornography and general media alike, ideal men are often depicted as white, with bulging muscles and full heads of hair. As a result, we have a racial-dating-hierarchy with white men – the most sought out online and the least likely to respond to messages – at the top, and those with the least Eurocentric features at the bottom.
How do queer women compare? Fairly better, actually. Though there is still a bias toward white women, queer women are less likely to be affected by ethnicity and more open to interracial dating.
“No Fats. No Femmes.”
This is another huge problem for gay men. I’ll bet that you’ve definitely seen these “preferences” too. Hey, it’s tough out there when you don’t fit the mold of a sexy hyper-masculine Adonis. But why are we all so hard on each other when most of us don’t live up to this ideal? The queer community is full of individuals with different body types and gendered energies. All of us are looking for love and acceptance. Many of us are looking for sex! This includes some of us who are a little on the skinny side (like myself), or have a few extra pounds, or proudly exude feminine/androgynous energy (also like myself). The unfortunate truth is, gay culture does not deem these traits desirable or sexually enticing.
This is also largely due to queer representation in media. Pride.com has a list of 21 Netflix shows with “awesome gay characters”. Run through it and you’ll notice a trend: with the exception of 3 characters, most of these men are relatively fit and have strong masculine features. In the world of hegemonic masculinity we live in, muscles and manliness win over femininity, which many mistakenly consider subordinate and lesser. Even gay men need a reminder that curviness and femininity can be strong and sexy.
Finding Sex is Just Too Easy
Believe me, when you’re looking for a hookup or a friends-with-benefits type situation, this can be great. All it takes is an hour and a well-lit selfie to catch a stranger’s interest on an app. Give someone the right look at a club or bar and they’ll walk over to you and grab you before they even say hi. But if you’re single and looking to get to know someone before they stick their hands down your pants, this can be extremely frustrating. It’s not easy talking to someone you’ve just met, only for them to ask you about your sexual preferences and what your genitals look like.
Quick and easy sex in the LGTBQ community is not just common – it is expected. This is not to say that there aren’t queer people who are searching for a deeper connection. But it is gay culture (yes, gay specifically) that allows men to see each other as objective prospects; new toys to try out at the store before throwing them back on the shelf.
There are a lot of reasons behind this. First and foremost, our gay villages promote this gaze. On our streets are posters and clubs filled with muscle men and young, skinny half-naked dancers. Another important reason is that many of us have never learned what it could be, in a predominantly heterosexual world, to be in a loving queer relationship. I myself, having no queer friends or close queer role models growing up, was unsure that I would find the loving relationship I always wanted. All I did see, was the hookup sex. I partook, not understanding that it wasn’t my only option.
Where Is Everyone?
No, seriously. Growing up in an urban cityscape can be the best thing in the world for a queer person looking for options. Whether you’re in New York, L.A., Toronto, Montreal, Tokyo or London, there is endless opportunity for you to find the person of your dreams. Aside from the overload of cuties to match with on dating apps, there are usually queer positive spaces in cities for people to meet and be their honest selves. A queer person living in a city with 5 million people has approximately 200,000 – that’s about 4%, and not the mythicized 10% – they could meet.
Not in a city packed with people? The odds are, unfortunately, less in your favor. It’s hard for a queer person from a small town or sparsely populated area to meet potential partners! Let’s take that 4% rule and apply it to a town of 8,000 people. You have 320 queer people. Do you identify as lesbian and would prefer to only date women? Cut that number in half. Don’t give up, this doesn’t mean you can’t find a diamond in the rough of 160 suitors!
Are They Even Into You?
She laughs at your jokes, she nudges your shoulder you when you tease her, she tells you she loves you… and that you’re her best friend. What’s the deal? Is she into women or not? Can you get a guy to fall in love with you even though he keeps calling you bro? For the LGBTQ community, this is a common obstacle. Before you can ask yourself whether they’re attracted to you, the real question is, are they even attracted to your gender?
This isn’t an issue for everyone. I like to think it’s pretty obvious to tell that I’m a queer individual. Working in retail, I’ve had customers refer to me as “that gay guy over there” and I’ve never been offended. It’s just who I am. But the same does not go for all people. I’ve crushed on a guy once, fantasizing about us being together, mistaking friendliness for signs of attraction. In an attempt to ask him out, I mustered up the courage to ask him what his plans were one weekend. His answer? He was going to a music festival. With his girlfriend.
The Closet Always Lingers
Let me preface this point by saying that many people choose to keep their sexual identity a secret for a range of reasons, including the preservation of their personal safety. That being said, it is hard to date while you’re still in the closet. It can be mentally and emotionally exhausting to keep the person you love a secret. It can also be just as exhausting for your partner, who must help you maintain a double life in order for your relationship to continue. For this reason, many closeted individuals are turned away on the dating scene.
Yes, dating someone who isn’t out to their friends and/or family can be a little complicated. Communication is key. You must be clear with your partner about what is and isn’t acceptable in public atmospheres. But you must be fair, and understand that the mental toll of being kept a secret can have drastic effects on your partner. You must be willing to make compromises for your partner, which might include getting used to PDA in queer-safe spaces, and making the transitional steps of coming out to close friends.
“Disease Free. You Should Be Too.”
Also known as “I won’t date you if you’re HIV positive”. HIV is still a huge taboo in the LGTBQ community today. The AIDS crisis that ravaged our community back in the 80s has kept our fear of contracting HIV alive to this day. In a way, this fear is helpful because it drives us to practice safe sex. But those who live with HIV positive statuses are shunned from the dating scene because of this same fear, and the misconceptions many of us have of HIV.
Modern medicine has come a long way over the past few decades, and HIV is no longer a death sentence. There are many HIV positive individuals who live healthy active lifestyles with the help of medications that keep them “undetectable” – having only trace amounts of the virus in their bodies, rendering them unlikely to transmit HIV. There are also medications like PrEP, which decrease a person’s likelihood of transmission by 90%.
Even with all these preventative measures, dating can be rough for HIV positive individuals. Many people with HIV are turned down or dumped after disclosing their status due to fear of contraction. It is important to remember that people with HIV are not “dirty” or “deserving” of their status in any way. HIV, while it is still important to take safety measures, is an obstacle that can be overcome by couples.
Dating can be rough if you’re trans. While it is true that dating apps like Tinder have introduced a variety of new gender options, allowing them to proudly display their identities, trans and non-binary individuals still receive a great deal of harassment in regards to their gender, sex and appearance. Trans and non-binary people also have the added stress of deciding if and when to disclose their identity to dates and partners.
Many trans people who are simply looking to get to know someone often find themselves fetishized. Sometimes, this fetishization finds its way into relationships. In a recent interview for Attitude magazine, trans advocate Laverne Cox discusses her experience dating a cisgendered man and the shame and insecurity he displayed while dating her. While this is not to say all cisgendered men are the same, many trans people identified with Laverne’s story, claiming to have similar experiences.
Just remember, problems are only hurdles that can be jumped over. The first step to solving these problems is awareness. The LGTBQ community and its supporters have the ability to shed light on these issues so that they can be met with love and acceptance.
So what do you think? Are there any problems that I’ve missed? Let us know! Are there any items on this list that you feel need their own articles? We at Psych2Go want to hear from you. Leave a comment below!
Gates, Gary J. In U.S., More Adults Identifying As LGBT. news.gallup.com/poll/201731/lgbt-identification-rises.aspx.
“History of HIV and AIDS Overview.” AVERT, 5 Dec. 2017, www.avert.org/professionals/history-hiv-aids/overview.
Jones, Owen. “No Asians, No Blacks. Why Do Gay People Tolerate Such Blatant Racism? | Owen Jones.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 24 Nov. 2016, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/24/no-asians-no-blacks-gay-people-racism.
Marshall, Carrie. “Think Dating’s Hard? Try Using Tinder When You’re Trans.” Metro, 21 Feb. 2018, metro.co.uk/2018/02/21/think-dating-apps-are-perilous-try-using-tinder-when-youre-trans-7314911/.
“Orange Is the New Black’s Laverne Cox Opens Up About Toxic Relationship: ‘I Could Have Died’.” Attitude, 16 Oct. 2017, attitude.co.uk/article/16017/orange-is-the-new-blacks-laverne-cox-opens-up-about-toxic-relationship-i-could-have-died/.
“PrEP.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 Oct. 2017, www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep.html.
Sheets, Cathy. “21 Netflix Shows With Awesome Gay Characters.” PRIDE.com, 2 June 2016, www.pride.com/netflix/2016/3/25/21-netflix-shows-awesome-gay-characters.
“Wonky Wednesday: Racism in Gay Online Dating.” National LGBTQ Task Force, 24 July 2013, www.thetaskforce.org/wonky-wednesday-racism-in-gay-online-dating/.
Edited by Viveca Shearin