Opinion: Grindr and Uhauls; the Do’s and Don’ts of Queer Dating

The author, Hamilton junior Hannah Fathman, and Orion Hower, Columbus senior, play cards and drink wine during Albion College Theatre’s production of Stop Kiss in the spring semester of 2023. The play follows the story of two young women who fall in love with one another despite never having had to confront their sexualities (Photo illustration courtesy of Kiah Kayser).

Dating men has always seemed relatively straightforward to me. Blame my passion for acting or simple disinterest in men, but the rules to straight dating have always been easy to follow.

However, there’s not the same kind of clear layout for queer dating. 

For many people, queer dating was something to be hushed up and never spoken of. This lack of exposure can lead to fear and stereotypes dominating many queer people’s view of dating. 

I personally didn’t met an openly queer adult until I came to college, and had no examples of what to do when dating someone who wasn’t a man. 

My first dates with women were terrifying, both because I was fighting through shame and internalized homophobia every second of the way and because I was only taught and exposed to the strict roles straight people were “supposed to” play. 

I found, pretty quickly, that the way I presented at the time pushed me into the traditional “male roles” in the relationship. 

It wasn’t until I was comfortable enough with my sexuality to drop this expected role of masculinity that I finally found fulfilling queer relationships. 

So, from the young adults who figured it out on their own – and are still at it – here’s a quick list of what to do and what not to do when entering the queer dating world. 

Don’t be scared of using dating apps

Many people associate dating apps with several negative attributes, such as superficiality and fickleness. While this may be true in some regards, dating apps have proven vital to the LGBTQ+ community. 

Growing up in a small town, there were very few safe queer spaces, if any. The school’s Gay Straight Alliance received threats of violence, there were no non-religious parts of town and even the theatre department was populated with homophobic students and leaders. 

There are fewer than two dozen lesbian bars in the United States; even if I did live near one, that’s not much use to an 18-year-old. 

For young people in a similar situation, dating apps offer a safer alternative to going out on the town – especially when that town is homophobic. 

Luke Rivard, Wilson senior and gay man, shared his thoughts on various dating apps. 

“For gay people, it’s often safer,” Rivard said. “I’d recommend it for someone who’s scared of physical violence and verbal violence” 

Jay Weekley, Lake Villa junior and non-binary person, said that they recommend using dating apps as well.

“I’ve only used Hinge,” Weekley said. “It’s pretty inclusive.”

Inclusive it is; Hinge has open gender options, as well as 23 sexuality options. In comparison, Tinder has nine sexuality options. Willow Incense, a queer senior at Albion, who is concealing her name for her protection, said she’s also had positive experiences with dating apps. 

“I was on Bumble for a bit, I also had Tinder for a little while,” Incense said, adding that she “met some really cool women” on these apps.

Besides Hinge and Bumble, the apps Taimi, Grindr and HER have been rated as some of the most LGBTQ+ friendly apps. 

Caleb Galvin, Hazelwood, Minn. sophomore and gay man, has a different perspective on dating apps, yet still recognizes their necessity.  

“I feel like sometimes it’s hard to like, find queer people. I fall into the resources that we do have,” Galvin said. “Which are sometimes, sadly, dating apps.”

Do know what to expect from them

Galvin, Rivard and Weekley all agreed on one thing: Dating apps introduce a culture of inauthenticity. 

“It’s like we’re shopping,” Rivard said. “I think it goes both ways, there’s safety but there’s also superficiality.” 

Studies have shown that people from different dating apps typically are looking for different types of relationships. 

“I’ve never been like, ‘oh, I’m seeking for love on this app,’” Galvin said of using Tinder. “It’s more just for experience, or talking to people.”  

In my experience of being on the queer women and gender non-conforming – or often called sapphic – side of Tinder, I’ve experienced quite the opposite. 

Apart from the occasional unicorn hunter, it was difficult for me to match with people who didn’t want to talk about marriage on the first date.

Fathman and Hower’s hands reach for the same book in the Albion Theatre Library. Bookstores are a famously popular meet-up location amongst queer people (Photo illustration by Hannah Fathman).

Don’t try to fit expectations

Without examples of queer dating, it’s easy to try to conform to what straight people consider “normal.” Trying to date in a way that conforms to heteronormative standards, but doesn’t bring you joy, is only going to make you seem stiff. Do something that allows you and your date to highlight your best selves. From art museums to coffee shops, there are plenty of safe bets, especially if you know something about the other person’s interests.

“I love going to bookstores,” Incense said. “I feel like you can learn a lot about a person based on where they go in a bookstore.” 

Even though queer dates offer a reprieve from heteronormative standards and allows for freedom of expression in a novel sort of way, this doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel. It’s okay to want that stereotypical date experience. Rivard is a huge proponent of this.

“Dinner and a movie: I know it’s cliché and boring, but gay people can date like straight people,” Rivard said. 

Weekley echoed this sentiment, suggesting a dinner and a movie. 

There’s no special code to know what the right activity is; the important part is choosing something accessible that makes both you and your date comfortable and excited. 

Do express yourself

Overwhelmingly, the one thing everyone agreed on was their desire for someone who shared their common interests. Listening, asking questions and sharing parts of yourself are all essential to making a good first impression. 

“I like people that know about the things I like,” Rivard said.

Finding out what actually interests you, not just speculating on the other person’s interests, can help create more genuine connections. Cass Burgess, a Fife Lake senior and pansexual transmasculine non-binary person, shares why he values self-expression on dates.

“I would say a green flag is if somebody gets really excited about talking about one of their interests to me,” Burgess said. “It makes me feel like I’m a safe person for them.

However, opening up to someone about your interests on the first date doesn’t mean you have to open up about everything. 

“Trauma dumping can kinda be a turn off” Weekley said. “If it’s immediate and not really reciprocated” 

It’s easy to get over excited and rush into a new relationship when you feel a connection with someone, this is relatively common in queer dating spaces. However, it’s usually not what’s best for either party.

Don’t rush it

You might’ve heard the term “uhaul lesbian” or “uhauling,” a term coined to poke fun at the quick manner lesbians and queer women move in with one another – most famously after the second date. Meeting someone, especially for the first time, who has lived life through a fundamentally more similar lens as you have can seem like compatibility. 

I’ve fallen into this trap myself. 

To my sapphics: your first date with a woman will likely feel like no one has ever understood you quite so intimately. Congratulations, it’s because almost any woman will have more emotional intelligence than any of the men you’ve seen. 

It does not mean she’s your soulmate. 

If you’re not aware and openly communicating where you’re at in your queer journey, it can risk putting you in dangerous scenarios or hurting the person you’re with. 

Know what your physical boundaries are, know who you’re ready to be out to and who you’re not, be honest with yourself and your date on where you are on your sexuality-discovery journey; no one wants to find out a month into dating someone they were only “experimenting.” 

Go get ‘em, tiger!

Overall, the most important things remain the same no matter who you’re dating: safety, communication and mutual respect. 

If we had to find one bright side to not having proper representation, it could be that there are far fewer expectations of “the norm.” Do what makes you feel safe and happy and don’t forget your Dr. Martens.

About Hannah Fathman 8 Articles
Hannah Fathman is a Junior Political Science major with a Theatre and Spanish Minor from Hamilton, Michigan. They’re focus is on bringing light to social injustices and human rights violations. Mainly, they focus on Race, Gender, and LGBTQ issues. They also enjoy the occasional witty opinion piece. If you have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to see written, contact Hannah via email at hgf10@albion.edu

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