My parents, married for 35 years, met at a high school pep rally. My sister and her husband first encountered one another while being squished together during a chance encounter on a crowded New York City subway. Several of my close friends and their significant others have romantic “this is how we met” stories that involve a shared English class, a wild night at a fraternity party, or an accidental beverage mix-up at a cafe. The queer* dating world, on the other hand, is more complicated.
“Gay bars, gay parties, gay college organizations, gay anything are really the most viable real world options for finding a partner, besides digital applications.”
“We met through an app” is the new “We met at a coffee shop.”
While sitting at a cafe, my gay friend once said, “I wish I could ask any cute guy in here out on a date.” Granted, it’s not as if a straight person could just waltz into a busy café and expect a date with anyone, but the option to ask around is present. The same cannot be said for members of the queer community—whether the option is absent due to safety, health, or privacy concerns. As such, smartphone apps—specifically Grindr and Tinder—play tremendously important roles in one’s dating life. I used to mock the “desperate women” in romcoms who would devour a tub of ice cream while browsing through eHarmony for a worthy man. Now, I am that desperate romcom character (though my life has far fewer slapstick moments). It’s a difficult truth to handle, but the queer sphere makes dating a more arduous task. Queer bars, queer parties, queer college clubs, queer anything are really the most viable real world options for finding a partner, besides smartphone apps (so get a smartphone!)
Grindr tribes & queer lingo (gay men-specific)
If you’re going to use applications similar in theme and function to Grindr, grow accustomed to terms such as: Bear, otter, twink, discreet, cleancut, and poz. The gay world has its own language. Unfortunately, we don’t have Rosetta Stone to help us with the finer details. Instead, we have Google.
Don’t be an “Outer.”
Visibility is a major dilemma in the queer dating world, more so in the college queer dating world. There are plenty of people who are “out of the closet,” but there are even more who are stuck in hiding—something with which to not mock, but rather, to sympathize. If you are “out of the closet” and are dating someone who isn’t, please—I beg of you—do not jeopardize their safety or emotional stability by forcing them out of it. Do not be selfish. Everyone should have the ability to come to terms with their sexuality if and when they choose to do so.
Don’t date the “Outer.”
On a similar note, if you are on the other side of the situation and are not yet “out of the closet,” do not date someone who is forcing you out (major emphasis on FORCING). Break free of their disgustingly heavy clutch and find someone who understands your situation and respects your personal decisions. As with all healthy relationships, we should always strive to be with someone who makes us happy, and who enjoys our company–our genuine selves.
IvyQ: The Pan-Ivy Queer Conference
Cornell’s IvyQ Planning Committee (2014-2015)
As a Cornellian, you have the privilege of calling yourself an Ivy Leaguer, and as such, have the privilege of the numerous queer-specific resources of the Ivy League. One such resource is the annual IvyQ conference—a Pan-Ivy League queer conference hosted by one of the eight educational institutions. Mornings and afternoons are littered with panels, workshops, and presentations by world-renowned queer activists and scholars, while nights are full of…”fun.” While some may argue that IvyQ is “one big orgy full of elitist scum,” I will argue that it’s a conference that’s designed for whatever it is that the individual wants it to be. I, for one, see it as the conference that introduced me to notion of social superstructures, that helped me to network with queers from other Ivies, and that changed my perspective on my body–body positivity.
“You’re gay, he’s gay. Let me introduce you two.”
Whenever I’m single, I often run into the common situation in which my straight friends introduce me to another one of their gay acquaintances. The logic: You’re gay, he’s gay, and so you two MUST click. If only it were that simple. Gay people, like everyone else, are people. Sexual orientation—for most, at least—is not a queer individual’s defining feature. Please remember this when you’re going out to find a hook up, a date, or a partner. (Also, quick side note for masculine gay men: Do not laugh at effeminate gay men for portraying their sexual and gender identities in a certain way. Sure, you may be incredibly buff and love outdoor activities, whereas they love dieting and show tunes. However, at the end of the day, you both like penis, so end the internalized hatred!)
Queers come in all shapes and sizes #BodyPositivity
As I mentioned earlier, IvyQ was a conference that changed my perception of my body. I have a layer of fat covering my abdomen; I have a terribly slow metabolism; when I was ten years old, I weighed over 200 pounds. After nine years of dieting, struggling through a period of eating disorders, and surviving a brief stint in which I exercised to the point of excess, I am now down to 130 pounds and couldn’t care less about the remaining body fat sitting atop my abdomen. It’s because I was introduced to a notion called body positivity, something that the gay porn industry seems to disregard. In a fabricated universe where all gay men are tall, white, maintain luscious hair, have pearly white teeth, and rock a solid six-pack, a gay man like myself would represent all that is wrong in society (or be nonexistent). However, the real world hosts people of all different shapes and sizes. Please respect that notion when you’re looking for a date or a partner.
Sex is NOT everything!
Don’t get me wrong, sex is great. I’m all about sex positivity. In fact, I was known as Haven Whore during my first year at Cornell (Haven being the name of the queer organization on campus, and whore being…well…). However, as with all healthy relationships, sex is not the only component. Be romantic (sorry, I’m a hopeless romantic); buy that bouquet of tulips (because roses are SO last century), go to a hole-in-the-wall café and order the most pretentious sounding beverage and share the overpriced concoction, go ice skating at Central Park during winter wonderland, fall asleep in each other’s arms after a long night of discussing your childhoods. Sensual is just as important as sexual, regardless of the media’s portrayal of queer hyper sexuality.
Haven: Cornell’s LGBTQ+ Umbrella Organization
“Relationships either end in marriage or a break up” (FALSE)
I’ll preface by stating that I’ve dated my fair share of “radical queers” (i.e. the nonconformists). My pessimistic straight friends constantly say, “Relationships only have two paths: Together or not together.” This sentiment doesn’t necessarily ring true for all queer relationships. I once dated an individual who was so against the hetero-patriarchy that he rebuked the very notion of marriage as it is a “hetero-privileged institution and [he] refuse[s] to become complicit in a process that was designed for, and privileges, the elitist hetero-community.” Point here being that not everyone you date will want to either break up or get married. Maybe figure out their priorities and political views before purchasing that promise ring?
Sometimes, Netflix is just as good as a wild night out.
I once dated a newly-out male. His perception of the gay community was completely fabricated by shows like Queer as Folk and 90210. Granted, the gay community is full of hyper sexualized individuals, but it’s also full of people who’d much rather spend their Friday night cuddling on the couch while binge-watching a full season of New Girl than taking six shots of tequila and dry humping on top of the bar’s countertop.
*It may seem as if I use the words “queer” and “gay” interchangeably. However, when I say “queer,” I am making a statement about the general LGBTQ+ community. When I say “gay,” I am referring to the cis-gendered gay male community, of which I am a member.