Straight people take the dating world for granted. When you belong to the status quo, potential romantic partners are available in every setting. You can assume that cute guy in your Chemistry class is straight (and if not, you will be politely let down).
You can approach the girl at your gym or your sister’s friend and expect she is straight. Again, if not, your assumption will typically not be taken with offense or risk your personal safety.
This ease of meeting and getting to know potential partners is not the case for members of the LGBT community.
Unless they are in a space created for them, they do not have the luxury of assuming the people they find attractive will reciprocate those feelings. These three individuals highlight the difficulties that arise when dating within the LGBT community.
Everett is a gay man who has been out and proud his entire adult life.In his late 20’s, he is ready to date seriously and settle down in the next couple of years.Unfortunately, Everett finds most men he finds attractive and engaging are not interested in pursuing a long term relationship.
All of Everett’s romantic interactions begin online.Everett knows this is not the case for many straight individuals.Many of his straight friends meet their romantic partners in school, at a job, or in a social setting where heterosexuality is the norm.
Everett wishes he could interact with a potential romantic partner in a setting that is not designed specifically for dating.He would love to meet someone at his job, his gym, or his place of worship. However,he knows this is much more difficult and dangerous when you do not know if the person you find attractive is gay or straight.
Everett understands he is lucky. Twenty years ago, gay men did not have the luxury of being able to search for dates from the comfort of their homes.
They were forced to literally “put themselves out there” and risk being rejected or possibly attacked.However, Everett is still allowed to feel frustrated and a little bitter at the fact that his straight friends do not seem to have these issues.
Carmen is a lesbian with penis repulsion, which makes dating in the LGBT community a bit of a mixed and sticky bag. Carmen knows a person’s genitals do not determine their gender. However, Carmen is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and her penis repulsion is valid.
Carmen has run into issues when trying to date in the community. She has to make it clear to any potential partner that she does have penis repulsion.
She knows it is invasive and inappropriate to ask about someone’s genitals when searching for a potential romantic partner.Because of these issues, Carmen finds it safer to find her romantic partners online.
She can make her preferences clear in her profile and avoid any potential awkward and offensive situations. She has no issue in dating a transgender person and has done so in the past.
However, she finds she is only comfortable in a sexual setting when her partner has had bottom surgery. It is a complex situation because many transgender women choose not to have bottom surgery. Carmen is aware this does not make them any less of a woman.
Carmen says it is important for individuals like herself to say, “I have penis repulsion” rather than, “I will not date a trans woman who hasn’t had bottom surgery.”The vernacular people use can make individuals in the community either feel seen and respected or invalidated and disrespected.
Carmen wants to make sure all of her LGBT comrades are comfortable. She has to continually learn and change her way of thinking and her behaviours.
As a lesbian interested in dating women within the LGBT community, she has to find ways to make her preferences clear to potential romantic partners without being offensive.
Claudette is a straight, transgender woman. Claudette is interested in dating straight men exclusively.Most straight men she meets on dating sites want to fetishize her and her body.
They immediately want to know what is between her legs rather than taking the time to get to know her. She understands that not everyone knows what is appropriate when dating a transgender person, and she wants to educate.
However, she is also exhausted trying to teach so many ignorant people. Claudette is more than her genitals.She is strong and ambitious, plays the violin, and loves to cook.
She wishes men would take the time to get to know her personality, as they would with any other woman.However, it can be dangerous for Claudette to try to find a sexual partner without disclosing her status as a transgender woman.
She fears for her safety.
If she starts engaging in physical contact with a straight man, he could become violent when he discovers her genitals are not what he was expecting. All three of these examples highlight the difficulties that arise when dating in the LGBT community that cis, heterosexual individuals do not face. Allies need to let LGBT members vent their frustrations and understand their privilege when it comes to dating.