I suspected I was bisexual in middle school, but never kissed a girl until college. It was easy to swipe through Tinder on both men and women, but I only felt comfortable talking to the dudes because there was no doubt in my mind who they were there to hook up with. Was the insanely hot girl I just matched with only looking for friends? I guess I’ll never know, because she didn’t reply to my message. By the time I finally hooked up with a woman and confirmed my near decade-long suspicion of bisexuality, I started to wonder if it took other queer people the same amount of hassle to get busy. So I started interviewing all the queer people that would talk to me.
Here are 16 individuals spilling the tea on queer dating in the digital age.
Dating While Queer: A Survey on Queer Dating in the Digital Age
Talk to Me About Dating Apps
“Hinge has been a largely positive experience because it’s a bit deeper than Tinder and they’re better about filtering men out of the queer women’s feeds. I’ve met some lovely people through Hinge. Bumble doesn’t seem to have many lesbians, so I quit after a week, and HER is great in big metropolitan cities but in smaller cities it’s not popular enough to have a decent sized pool of people. HER is my favorite, or would be if they had more people on the app in Florida. I think it would be great in LA, San Fran or NYC. Overall, I use Tinder and Hinge the most by far, and I’ve actually met up with the most people through Hinge” said Hannah P. who identifies as a queer woman and lesbian.
“I’ve used Tinder and Grindr. Grindr is more for hooking up because it’s people in your immediate vicinity, also as a way to network and make friends. Many of my very good gay friends I’ve met through Grindr. It’s kind of like a secret society for gay guys. But Tinder is in general more for like, ‘maybe I’d wanna date you,’ because you have to match with someone first, whereas on Grindr, you can message anyone,” said L, a gender non-conforming queer male who wished to remain anonymous.
“I’ve had a very mixed experience on the old Tinder and Grindr. It’s been a weird experience, especially because for gays, Tinder usually equals date-oriented and Grindr usually equals sex oriented. And honestly, my experience has been meh, y’a know? A wild ride. I’ve used both in the past but usually in cycles depending on what I’m looking for. Grindr is scary because strange old men and creepy persons, but I actually technically met my current boyfriend on Tinder,” said James who loosely identifies as a gay man.
“[I used dating apps] when I first started college and started to discover who I was. I was experimenting, so at the time I was just looking for a quick fix I guess you could say. I find myself struggling to stay consistent. I’ll download [dating apps] and then delete them. In my experience, at least in the gay community, most people are looking for instant satisfaction rather than a genuine connection. Regardless of the type of app. Rather than meeting someone and getting to know them, people have the convenience of immediately deciding if they are attracted to you based off of a couple of pictures. I’ve met people that are looking for a connection and people who simply want to get their fix.
“I experienced my first heartbreak because of a connection from a dating app, which was totally unexpected. As I have matured and started to come to terms with my own sexuality, I’ve started to realize that I do want that connection that isn’t normally found on dating apps. Sex is always there, it’s the connection that you make with someone that seems to be slowly disappearing because of convenience. Making a connection outside of dating apps is difficult. Partially because of the gay community itself and also due to the fact that I’m not completely open about my sexuality to others. But that’s on me,” said Michael E. who identifies as gay.
“Ya know, I just logged into Tinder and found my tinderella and VOILA, I’m married. It was that easy. I’ve only used Tinder, but I have gone on a lot of Tinder dates (like 10 actually) and it’s been a good experience. I met a lot of cool people who I’m still friends with, even though it didn’t work out romantically,” said Taylor M. who identifies as a lesbian AF female spaceship.
“I thought Tinder was a really fun way to explore my sexuality when I realized I wanted to start dating people other than men! It gave me a chance to see how I felt talking to new folks and get to know other queer people when I didn’t know very many in my day to day. And then the first Tinder date I actually went on two and a half years ago became my current relationship, so it went really well,” said Margot who identifies under the gender umbrella of agender/nonbinary, sexually as pansexual and romantically as a lesbian.
“Dating apps are a weird world to navigate. I downloaded a lot at one point and I think I was using them to seek validation and negative attention. At the time, it was hard to identify that. I do think there’s a lot of positive things that can come out of modern dating apps. When I was confused about my sexuality for years, I think Tinder first allowed me to explore this. I changed my settings to both men and women and that’s actually how I came across my first serious relationship. She gave me a new perspective on myself and what it means to be queer. I feel grateful to have had this app in order to find someone like her. It was an instant connection that I never could have guessed would happen. I actually super-liked her on purpose and she ended up talking to me, so,” said Hannah B. who identifies under the umbrella of queer.
“I’ve used Grindr once to hook up with a person while I was at New College but it’s mostly been in person. For whatever reason, I don’t think any charm I might have translates to dating apps,” said Colin who identifies as pansexual.
“I would say that the dating world is a breeding ground and a battle ground. I hate both Tinder and Grindr, but I think I actually prefer Grindr more because at least I know that it’s very straight forward and if somebody wants to be with me or want to go on a date with me or wants to f—k, I know exactly what it’s going to be instead of Tinder where you have to beat around the bush a lot because they try to make it classier place but it’s kind of like putting lipstick on a pig,” said Gray who identifies as a gay man.
“I agree with what [Gray] said a little bit but at least with Tinder I appreciate the fake niceness of it. Grindr is just a breeding ground for assholes and the people on there are abysmal,” said Gray’s partner Peder, who identifies as a gay man.
“I’ve used Tinder and Grindr heavily over the past five-ish years, and while both have an unspoken hook-up vibe, I’ve definitely had better luck finding dates on Tinder. Grindr, as any gay or bi guy whose used it will tell you, is basically a virtual sex dungeon. It’s not uncommon to be sent unsolicited pictures of dicks/butts, to be offered money for sex acts, or to be insulted by someone whose message you don’t respond to. Neither Tinder or Grindr, to me, are better than meeting someone to date organically, but Tinder is a little less intense because a) you can choose who can message you and b) you can’t send photos on it,” said Cody who identifies as a homosexual male.
Have You Noticed Any Common Themes/Occurrences in Queer Dating?
“Yes, guys who aren’t okay with being gay always say they’re straight and just curious, or just desperate to get their d-ck sucked. And monogamy is rare in gay male dating,” said Frankie.
“Sure! I go out with any type of queer woman/non-binary person regardless of gender presentation, and I’ve noticed that more masc people tend to want to pay and be slightly more in control. Not across the board, but that’s a definite theme. There’s also the queer experience of navigating the checks and who takes the lead when you sleep together for the first time. And if you live in a smaller city there’s a likelihood you have past partners in common, which I don’t think is as much of an issue for heterosexual people. Going to queer spaces you always see people you’ve gone out with or been in a relationship with in the past, which can be awkward or challenging to navigate. But it’s also kind of awesome because it’s easier to meet queer women romantically when everybody knows of each other,” said Hannah P.
“Men are often looking for a hook up. They all use pick up lines and they range from compliments to straight up saying they want you to sit on their face. Girls tend to be more subdued and respectful. The girls I’ve talked to all seemed interested in getting to know me with a few compliments here and there but never anything crude,” said W, a bisexual female who wished to remain anonymous.
“I think in general people are very sensitive to assertiveness and aggressiveness so there is a tendency to fall into friendship,” said Taylor M.
“I think the biggest theme is just like, the feeling of community and closeness with all queer people. Like recognizing that our experiences are outside the norm and finding something beautiful and bonding in that fact alone. But another piece that applies more specifically to lesbian relationships is just the tendency to like ‘U-Haul,’ or just like get really serious really fast. And I think a big part of that comes from feeling like our dating pool is so much smaller and that makes it feel all the more special and significant when you do find people you click with,” said Margot.
“I’ve noticed for one that it’s a REALLY small world. I don’t know if that’s just New York or what, but everyone knows everyone and you will bump into people you don’t want to. Especially if you go to the same gay bars. I never wanted to make the first move dating men. I don’t know why this is, but when I met up with this woman on our first date, it was actually me who made the first physical move. I was surprised, though it came more natural to me. I felt more in my element I guess. I never had a connection like that with any man I had dated before,” said Hannah B.
“I think it’s mostly with older guys for me, but they’re a lot more likely to wine and dine me than any women I’ve been with. Also, group sex things have occurred organically with queer folks where the few threesomes I’ve had with straight girls have been extensively planned out ahead of time. Which makes sense really,” said Colin.
“I think that in the same-sex male world it’s even more objectifying because it’s two masculine entitled energies coming together and it doesn’t really matter if they’re correlative or not because at the end of the day they just kind of want to f—k. Since it is two men, it’s less emotional and it’s more physical. And I think that’s a part of why it’s ruthless. Gay men are really really terrible to each other because of their subconscious repression that they were given throughout their lives and they kind of take it out on the gay community rather than propping each other up,” said Gray.
“With almost every guy I’ve dated either seriously or casually, coming-out stories and “does your family know” conversations have happened pretty early on. I’ve found that it can be hard to date a guy who is in a different stage than I am on the “out and proud” vs. “discrete masc only” scale. In college, I found that the community of gay guys my age was uncomfortably small, and that pretty much any guy I talked to on a dating app knew and/or had hooked up with at least one person I knew/had hooked up with,” said Cody.
Have You Ever Approached an Attractive Person in Public Without Knowing Their Sexual Identity Beforehand?
“I have at parties, but I always chatted with them for a while first and subtly flirted to see if they were interested. Like 85% of the time I can tell if someone is queer either by their personal style and presentation, or by their eye contact and body language. If they lean into me while they talk and maintain eye contact for a few seconds, there’s a pretty good chance they’re comfortable flirting with the same sex. Even if they’re not explicitly interested in me, I think queer women are pretty receptive to physical queues because we have to be to recognize each other. A lot of it is eye contact, like a quick up and down with your eyes can speak volumes.
“I’ve never had a negative experience because I’ve always backed off immediately when they didn’t seem interested. I’ve never asked someone overtly if they’re queer, but I have used conversational queues to try and find out. A strategy that works pretty well is to mention something you did with your ex-girlfriend in casual conversation where it fits naturally. Like “oh, my ex-girlfriend and I visited Sarasota once for an anniversary, there was such a cool restaurant scene!” a lot of the time another queer person will act MORE comfortable or even mention their own past romantic partners in return. It’s pretty effective,” said Hannah P.
“No, I haven’t. If I’ve ever approached an attractive person in public because I wanted to hit on them, it was in an environment where I knew they must be gay because it was implied, [in other words] at gay pride, gay club or because I was introduced through friends,” said L.
“Um, like not at gay bars? In a non-gay space, I’ve never really done it unless they have a clear indicator they’re also queer,” said James.
“Yes!!! Went up to a girl in a bar once, it was a gay bar but ya never know. I asked if she was into girls and she said yes and she asked if I was and I said yes and we were both surprised because I guess neither of us look like we’re into girls, but she got my number and then leaned in and kissed me and it was exhilarating but then she never texted me back haha,” said W.
“I have actually. I was at a normal bar with friends in my hometown. They went outside to smoke and I went up to the bar, sat next to someone and he struck up a conversation. At first, I was a little cautious but after realizing that he was being a little flirty, I was open to it and flirted back. And it actually worked out really well. We still talk to this day,” said Michael E.
“I haven’t approached many people in public, that’s pretty bold. I think I would feel more comfortable doing that if I was in a certain space that welcomed queer people. Like it’s a lot easier to do that now at a gay bar than not,” said Hannah B.
“I’ve never really approached someone without knowing exactly. I’ve started drinking with folks and through conversation figured they were gay and then started flirting. There’s been a few times where there was like ‘a look’ which let me know the were at least into me so I started flirting then,” said Colin.
“I think that I’ve always been blessed with a really really good gaydar, so I don’t think that I’ve ever not known someone’s sexuality from first meeting them, which you can tell through just like body language, the way they’ll speak, the way they’ll inquire about certain questions, they way they are with their friends, that kind of stuff,” said Gray.
“If I saw someone that I thought was attractive outside of a gay club, I would not approach them. The only time I’ve ever approached someone like sexually was in a gay club because there’s a better chance that they’re gay,” said Peder.
“I’ve made the first move on a few guys, and also on a few girls back in my closeted middle and high school days. I don’t think there’s much of a difference between the two genders; people either accept your move or reject it,” said Cody.
Have You Ever Been Approached by A Non-Queer Person Who Did Not Know Your Sexual Identity Beforehand?
“Yeah, all the time. Usually it’s just playful, and I have acted on it before. It was fun. I used to get uncomfortable by it because I’m still working on accepting my own sexuality, but I’ve gotten better at usually just brushing it off, feeling it out or making it clear I wasn’t available,” said Michael E.
“Yeah, I definitely have and usually I try to deflate it with like a joke about my girlfriend or something and it’s usually followed by some straight boy commentary but harmless,” said Taylor M.
“Yes, I feel like it’s a lot more straight forward, like it’s easier to see a guy’s intention as opposed to a girl coming up to me and I can’t tell if she’s hitting on me, if she’s interested or if she really just liked my shirt,” said Taylor B. who identifies as queer.
“Haha no. My masculine–of–center appearance typically takes care of that,” said Amanda who identifies as lesbian or queer.
“This is going to sound SO silly and Leo of me, but I get approached a lot by strangers asking me out/making moves, both male and female. I usually say thank you and will sometimes compliment them back. If they continue to be overly flirty I’ll get them with the ‘I’m queer’ card and that usually relaxes the situation and it’s totally normal and casual. It can sometimes be awkward if they’re drunk because they’ll keep on progressing and be like ‘omg that’s even better, I love that you’re gay! We can still make out, I don’t care!’ Then I have to be like ‘no thanks.’ It’s usually a matter of escaping to my friends or brushing them off,” said James.
“I guess they genuinely just don’t know, which always shocks me because I feel like a make my sexuality abundantly clear,” said Gray.
“Yes, that happens to me all the time. I present in a very feminine way so I pass as straight unless I’m wearing a shirt that literally says ‘lesbian’ on it. People even think my rainbow tattoo is just because I like rainbows. It’s difficult for me to communicate through my appearance that I’m queer. I get approached by men relatively frequently in bars, on the street, where I work. I normally don’t tell him that I’m gay because in the past the response hasn’t been ‘oh sorry, carry on!’ It’s been ‘wow, that’s hot,’ or questioning whether I’ve been with a man in the past. I normally use the same strategies other women use to avoid advances, which is ignoring them whenever possible and outright turning them down when I have to.
But it’s exhausting to have to come out to people over and over, especially men who make advances. So for the most part, I’ve stopped coming out to people who I don’t feel deserve the emotional and mental energy,” said Hannah P.
Have You, As A Queer Person, Ever Fallen for A Non-Queer Person?
“I’ve never had feelings for a straight person, just because that synastry wouldn’t vibe. I know there’s no reason to even try to go down that avenue. But I have hooked up with plenty of ‘straight’ men. Men who say they’re straight but DL and that is kinda annoying to me. They’re usually like paranoid that someone will find out or like super secretive because they have roommates or whatever. A lot of people struggle with their sexuality, between family/social ideas and religion, and just becoming yourself, young people have a lot to think about and it‘s confusing what to think. Especially with what’s happening in the government and the political atmosphere of exclusivity on top of racism if that applies to you. It’s a lot. And it shows in queer dating, all of these strains put strains on connections and relationships,” said L.
“That’s kind of complicated, I think. Since I’ve known that I was gay, no, I haven’t fallen for a straight girl, but before I knew, I had a lot of crushes on my straight friends that I didn’t know were crushes. I thought I just really wanted to be their friend,” said Taylor B.
“I had a small crush on a friend after we got too high together and fell asleep cuddling, but he got a girlfriend not long after that so it went unsaid. Other than that, there was a lesbian I had a crush on but I quashed it down so I wouldn’t be gross,” said Colin.
“I don’t think I’ve ever really fallen for a straight person besides maybe when I was really young before I realized that I, myself was gay, because it was more familiar to me in that moment. I’ve fallen for a lot of people that were closeted, but not straight,” said Gray.
“Yeah, I’ve fallen for straight people, like literally most of my crushes have been straight and it sucks, it’s the worst feeling in the world,” said Peder.
“I’ve fallen for too many “straight” people, and even though I’ll definitely do it again I wouldn’t recommend it to any LGBTQIA+ people. There’s been a couple close friends that I’ve had flirty relationships with that eventually developed into a crush on my end, and both of those friendships ended and left me wondering if the guys I liked were actually straight, confused, closeted, or just flat out not into me regardless of what their orientation may have been. Again, I don’t recommend falling for a straight person. People and feelings are messy enough as is, and not knowing if your gender/orientation are compatible with your crush’s adds a whole new level to that complication,” said Cody.
Is There Anything Else You’d Like to Share About Your Experience with Queer Dating?
“I think it’s important that while Tallahassee is a liberal capital, it’s extremely southern still, and there are so many men here who are in the closet and condemn gays but are gay themselves,” said Frankie.
“Gaydar is definitely a thing. Not even based off looks, just like an internal primal thing. Maybe more based on actions, how one would interact with other people, how they carry themselves. Obviously, sexuality doesn’t have a ‘look’ but it definitely has a vibe,” said L.
“I think that queer dating is really an interesting beast because sometimes you’ll meet up with people only to become friends with them rather than romantic partners. Plus like, it may seem sex-oriented but like it’s really not. Sorry we’re just sexually liberated. But also, when you find your person you feel so queer and powerful and it’s magical,” said James.
“I guess just to add, if you were wondering whether or not dating apps helped or hindered my process of accepting myself for who I am, I would say that it was more negative than positive. It’s really easy for people to hide behind a few pictures and meet with someone with no regard to their position in life. It’s almost sort of behind the scenes. All of the personal growth that I have accomplished since beginning my undergrad was outside of the scope of those dating apps,” said Michael E.
“I can not speak for all women, but I think it’s a beautiful thing when you two understand so much about each other’s experience. I have a lot I could say. I love that I am able to love whoever I want. I’m thankful to those individuals who came before me who fought for this right. I feel at home living in a city where it’s such a common thing to see. I think it’s unfortunate that there’s still so much bigotry in the world, though I think people are changing that narrative as we speak. I’m still learning to love certain parts of myself, as I learn something new everyday. It’s truly a blessin’ that I can express who I am and love who I want to love. I’d also like to thank my family and friends for that,” said Hannah B.
“I feel like I ‘read’ as straight, so I’ve had a few times where a gay couple flirts with me slightly and then one of them gets possessive when they notice me reciprocate. Older gay dudes hate casual drag it seems like. Like full on queen is fine but if I show up in a dress and no makeup I’ve been told to ‘not mess with that gender stuff.’ Really only have had three gay dudes act weird about my dresses or nonbinary friends but it weirded me out,” said Colin.
Need some tips to finally start talking to your potential soulmate? Check out “The 6 Commandments for Sliding into a Girl’s DM like… an Average College Dude.”