Not being straight is weird. At the same time, it’s incredible. There are a lot of things in the LGBTQ+ community that makes dating someone of the same gender or other variations of non-straight relationships very different from the average heterosexual relationship. Because of them, it makes everything more difficult, but can also be more fun. Here’s my perspective as a bisexual woman:
Are they Gay?
The real kicker, honestly, is that you can never know if someone is actually gay (and I use gay in this context as a very loose term to cover a multitude of sexual orientations, basically just anything but straight). It’s not as if people are running around the streets with neon signs announcing their sexual preferences — unless you’re at a pride parade. But then again, there are many people who express themselves more than others and choose to display their pride on a regular basis. But for the average gay person, it’s hard to know if that person you’re talking to is hitting on you when they says “I love your top,” or if they’re just saying “I love your top”. Going off that, it’s also hard to take a hint from stereotypes. While a lot of them may be true, they’re not always 100 per cent accurate. Autumn and winter are really difficult times for girls because everyone is wearing beanies and plaid now and it’s no longer just a statement look.
Meeting someone new
From there, the struggle of actually finding fellow LGBTQ+ people is a real chore. There are two main ways it can be done: via the internet or through referral. I say “the internet” in general, because dating apps aren’t the only way — even though there are a few LGBTQ+ specific dating apps out there, such as HER for girls and Grindr for guys. Tinder, OkCupid and Match.com to name a few, host features for same sex couples and even Christian Mingle is opening up its options. After being faced with a lawsuit back in 2013 by two gay men who were denied the opportunity to identify as something other than “man seeking woman” or “woman seeking man”, the website was required to become more welcoming and accessible to the LGBTQ+ community. Beyond online dating, people are also finding their significant others through other online social networks like Tumblr. With millions of users around the world, it opens up the dating pool quite a bit — with the drawback that they might live in Thailand and you’re in Canada. However, you can hope to find someone within a decent vicinity and keep your fingers crossed that long-distance is something you can cope with.
When it comes to referral, you have to keep in mind that if your gay friend is introducing you to someone, it’s a definite possibility that they’ve hooked up or dated in the past, or hooked up with/dated one of their friends. It’s a weird but often true fact that the LGBTQ+ community is like a strange web of relationships. That’s just something you have to deal with when faced with a smaller dating pool.
In the closet dating
In relation to small dating pools and not knowing someone isn’t straight, it’s really tough if you’re dating someone who’s still in the closet. Of course there are varying degrees, as someone could be out to their friends but still be concealing it from their parents, or have a whole group of people who know and only select people who don’t. It makes it seem like you’re straddling these two worlds where you need to keep things a secret but have the overwhelming need to shout your feelings from a rooftop.
It’s even worse if you’re dating in secret and are put in the position of lying about your relationship status, or seeing your partner deny your relationship right in front of you. A lot of trust is needed in any relationship, and you need to ensure your partner that you’re doing the right thing. It’s a definite rollercoaster of emotions. It can also be terrifying for the person who is still in the closet. If you really love someone you want to be able to show it and be proud of it. Instead, you have to deal with the potential rejection of others that you love and should love you no matter what. Also, remember that no matter how frustrated you might get, it is not your place to out someone.
The perks and pitfalls of LGBTQ+ relationships
Aside from the struggles mentioned above, there aren’t many huge issues once you get into a relationship with someone. The cons may be few and far between, but there are definitely some downfalls of LGBTQ+ loving. On the bright side, there are so many perks you’ll hardly even realize the bad things. It’s all about perspective.
PRO: You double your wardrobe
If your significant other is the same size as you, or bigger, say hello to an entire new wardrobe that you will definitely be raiding at some point. Nothing says love like cuddling up in ‘bae’s’ sweater — or jeans and t-shirt — when you can’t actually hang out with them.
CON: You lose your favourite clothes
If your girlfriend or boyfriend is the same size as you, or smaller, say goodbye to a lot of your clothes for the next little while. The chance of them giving you your sweater back are slim to none. It’s just something you’ll have to deal with because you love them and want them to be cozy and cute. Seeing them in your stuff is also really great, too.
PRO: Period problems
If you’re a cis-guy in a relationship with another cis-guy, you will never, ever have to worry about this, so that’s lucky. However, for everyone else, at least someone is there to go through hell and back with you every month. Double the snacks, tampon stash and cuddles. It’s always great when you have someone who knows what you’re going through and can help you rationalize your strange thoughts. If you’ve been spending a lot of time together, it’s also likely that your cycles will sync up. So instead of one of you feeling like crap for however long you PMS for, you get to share the pain. True love.
CON: Period problems
If you’re both on your periods, it’s about to get twice as emotional up in here. There’s going to be a lot of irrational thoughts, panic and questioning everything about life and your relationship, but you just have to remember that it’s not actually you thinking that. It’s just the hormones and scary insecurities that want to destroy you.
PRO: No pregnancy scares!
Guys are free of blame and terror on this one, coupled with the fact that they cannot get their cis-male partner pregnant, and girls don’t have to freak out about a late period (even though you still panic when you know your girlfriend is literally incapable of knocking you up).
CON: You can’t get your partner pregnant
While it’s great sometimes that you don’t have to worry about it, in the future it may become an issue for you. So many people dream of settling down and starting a family with the person they love, but it’s not so easy for LGBTQ+ couples. There are a lot of different options out there, though, including adoption, surrogacy and artificial insemination!
PRO: Your partner really knows what they’re doing
Odds are if you have the same genitalia as your significant other, you know what to do with it. Things get a lot easier and a lot better.
CON: People think you’re related
Nothing is weirder than having someone ask you if you’re related to the person you’re dating. Just because you’re the same ethnicity, have the same hair colour and similar facial features means nothing. I don’t want to think about making out with my sister, thank you very much.
PRO: Gay jokes
You can make so many gay jokes about you and your significant other that other people can’t make without sounding offensive. It might sound like a rude thing to do, but honestly you can’t be serious all the time and if your girlfriend is dressed like a hipster lumberjack, you just gotta make a comment about it.
CON: Unwanted and disrespectful comments
People are going to be assholes. It’s inevitable, and as hard as you wish, you’re bound to get some weird looks and disapproving remarks at least once in your life when you’re on a stroll with your significant other or holding hands in public. You’d think that with it being 2017 and all people would be a little bit more accepting.
PRO: They understand you
Chances are your person will undoubtedly understand a lot of the things you’re going through. You know what it’s like to be “like them” and you know how to navigate similar feelings and experiences. There are some things that just don’t line up in straight relationships; like girls not knowing what it’s like to have to suppress a erection and guys not understanding how horrible cramps can be. But it goes beyond the physical. You’ll be able to understand their feelings better and with that comes better communication and no inhibitions.