A Newbie’s Guide to LGBT Dating

two laughing women

So you’ve done it. Take a deep breath and relax. You are more than ready to own your beautiful queer self, to take it into public, show it off, and bring home a prize of romance and connection for living an authentic life. The question is: where do I begin?

The good news is that flirting is a one-size-fits-all venture. Attraction speaks the same language across various cultures/genders/sexualities: the language of eye contact, smiles, touch, owning your attraction and willingness to be vulnerable truly are universal.

And while LGBT dating doesn’t exactly come with a book of social rules, you can pretty much take what happens during heterosexual dating, eliminate one gender, and multiply it by two. (Actually, this isn’t the case at all, but we will get to that in a minute).

But let’s say you are out and about in a predominantly heterosexual universe, how do you know if that cute guy or girl you are talking to is gay/straight/bi/into you? Here is where you employ those flirty tactics and give it a shot. Because really, what do you have to lose?

Practice will help make it less excruciating to put your sexuality out there over time, and once you make it past those first few rejections, you are likely to experience some success at some point, to find that person who totally reciprocates your attraction.

You ask: “But what if he/she is STRAIGHT, and I am barking up the wrong tree and completely EMBARRASSED and fall flat on my face and cry for three days in a row? ” Well then, pick yourself up and start over again. Better yet, your best option is to put on a brave face and venture out to a gay bar, where your chances of flirting with somebody who shares your appreciation of same-gender are high. And even if picking up people over drinks sounds seedy, use the opportunity to make some new queer friends and learn the ropes.

Picking up a willing gay mentor can be super helpful in navigating your shiny new social scene. And those new friends of yours maybe have this other friend who is on the market and super cute. Once you have gained a mentor and you begin to expand your gay social circle, you will get increasingly familiar with the social norms of your new peer group.

If you do happen to meet somebody you like, be upfront about your interest so that you won’t get friend zoned. Mention your sexuality in a casual way, like oh my ex-girlfriend, or mention a celebrity crush you’re into to avoid any snafus like when you go in for that kiss on what you thought was a date and she considered a friendly meetup. Also: mention your sexuality to anyone that will listen (except, perhaps, your homo-hating Baptist neighbor) so that you can get the word out and open the door to friend setups galore: you know your best friend’s gay cousin’s husband knows this guy your age who happens to be looking.

And if you recognize an undeniable energetic connection with somebody, don’t be deterred by the assumption that they are straight and therefore off-limits. Sexuality is a fluid animal, and genuine connection can jump perceived social boundaries. And perhaps you are what this person has been waiting for all along; they just didn’t know it until they met you.