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Home > Lifestyle News > Relationships News > Article > Queer dating tips by the community and for the community

Queer dating tips by the community, and for the community

Updated on: 14 February,2024 09:31 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Maitrai Agarwal |

In the absence of representation, and societal acceptance, navigating the dating landscape for LGBTQIA+ individuals can be puzzling. Ahead of Valentine’s Day, we spoke to queer folk across the spectrum who share with us queer dating tips

Queer dating tips by the community, and for the community

Image for representational purposes only. Photo Courtesy: iStock

Dating is puzzling for most people, and the one-solution-cures-all approach of cis-gendered heterosexual persons is of limited use to LGBTQIA+ persons. Whether it is growing up without having the tools to self-identify, or the increased incidence of mental health issues among the LGBTQIA+ community, the lived realities and thereby the challenges of navigating dating differ drastically for queer individuals. Representation of the experiences of queer individuals is a powerful way to bridge that gap by offering insights to LGBTQIA+ individuals and furthering the understanding of allies.  Ahead of Valentine’s Day, we spoke to queer persons across the wide spectrum who share their dating wisdom along with queer dating tips.

Susmita M Sengupta
Non-binary female, pansexual and polyamorous

Susmita M Sengupta identifies as a non-binary female who is pansexual and polyamorous. Years of dating (albeit offline) alongside her evolving queer identity have contributed to the diverse experiences she has had. “As a pan/poly person, I have experienced dating which has been somewhat different from most. I knew I was queer when I was about 11. I didn't know what the word to use was or if it were normal. Once I started understanding queerness I identified as bisexual for a long time. It was well into adulthood that I realised that gender queerness plays no role in my attraction to people,” shares Sengupta.

Do not fetishize and make inappropriate suggestions

Most of her relationships have been monogamous as it's difficult to come across poly persons. The 40-year-old has had only one poly relationship and has been in a monogamous relationship for the past 9 years without either of them stepping outside the relationship. When asked about the perception of polyamorous and pansexual individuals, Sengupta shares, “A problem that I have faced as a pan/poly person within the community is the stereotype of people assuming I am incapable of being faithful. That is not how either pan or poly works. The consent of my partner is very important to me. An absolute red flag for me is when people fetishize pansexual or bisexual persons. If they make any conversation about trying a threesome or similar innuendo too soon, I leave ASAP. I have found both binary genders can be homophobic.”

Sharing another major red flag when it comes to queer dating tips, the New Delhi resident states, “Another red flag is when people try to corner me to do things I do not want to. In the case of men, I find it is mainly sexual favours while in the case of women, it is emotional support. I like doing both, but it can be oppressive if expectations exceed more than what I am willing to give.”

Acknowledge gender queerness

As a gender-queer person, it is important for prospective partners to acknowledge her as non-binary, even though Sengupta passes as a cis-gender individual. She explains, “The one thing I have learnt the hard way is if someone is disrespectful on the first date, cracks insensitive jokes about your identity or the community, do not dismiss it. Sometimes it's subtle. Sometimes you may be moved to laugh with them. But if it makes you uncomfortable listen to your gut.” Some green flags she looks for include liberal people who align with her ideologies, political inclinations, and interests.

Choose when to be out

There might be instances when dating can be an unsafe space for LGBTQIA+ individuals, especially when they come across homophobic people. For queers looking to date, Sengupta insists on choosing self-preservation amongst the top queer dating tips, “Being open about my queerness has backfired many times but it has not deterred me. I just learnt when to hold back. Pick your battles. If you are out and proud it's important to display it so that we can encourage others to come out or be themselves by being an example.  But at the same time, self-preservation is of utmost importance.”

Rahul Singh
Cis-gay man

Rahul Singh (name changed on request) identifies as a cis-gay man and has been in a loving relationship for the past five months. The Jaipur resident is a Kathak dancer and has faced his share of obstacles dating in a comparatively conservative city. “Societal acceptance has still not reached a point where my partner and I can be out as a couple. We need to be mindful of others,” says Singh.

Be wary of fake profiles on dating apps

Before the 24-year-old started dating his partner, Singh found dating applications such as Grindr to be the primary platform to meet other LGBTQIA+ persons in Jaipur. Due to a lack of offline safe spaces to meet other queer people, turning to dating applications is a discreet option for the community. However, coming across fake profiles on these dating applications is extremely common with instances of blackmailing (threatening to reveal the queer identity of an individual) also reported across the country.  “While dating applications were the only source to date, many people did not post photos or share fake photos on their profiles. Once I had gone to meet someone, and he turned out to be 20 years older than his photos suggested,” recounts Singh. As trust is hard to establish especially in smaller towns, he suggests meeting in a public place first to ensure the prospective person is actually who they claim to be. A layer of trust can be built by sharing social media such as Instagram profiles as well.

Take it slow

While Singh wasn’t certain of what he was looking for, he and his partner were both open to possibilities when they first established contact. “I was questioning myself a lot, but I was willing to be a friend, or a casual fling without being specific. After a few months of exchanging messages on Instagram, I finally ran into him at a queer event he was hosting and developed a crush on him,” shares Singh.

Even though Singh’s partner had claimed his disinterest in a relationship early on, they continued to see each other and decided to take things slow. From sleepovers to movie dates, both eventually acknowledged the depth of their feelings. Instead of being overwhelmed, they chose to be mindful and spent time together and apart to better understand how they felt. “We asked each other to define what love meant to us, we communicated what we didn’t like, and tried to resolve issues together instead of assuming the wrong things.” 

Meghna Mehra
Asexual woman

Activist and author Meghna Mehra identifies as an asexual woman. Founder of the ‘All India Queer Association’, she is committed to spreading awareness, providing mental health services and fighting for working rights of the LGBTQIA+ community. Although she is currently single, she refers to herself as the single friend who gives tips to her committed friends.

Understand asexuality and consent

Speaking of her dating life, the 26-year-old shares, “My dating experiences have been a mix of good and bad. Most of the heterosexual relationships with cis-het men have been exploitative and abusive. In the beginning, men have this attitude that women owe them sex in relationships. So, people get verbally and emotionally abusive over it. They keep on trying for sex or saying that they will change me which is the wrong approach. I have faced violence for refusing to have sex. It took me years to understand that saying ‘no’ is normal and I shouldn't be expecting to get hit for saying no to sex. We as a society have to understand that consent of women matters.”

Doling out the most critical advice, she says, “My advice to people who are looking to date asexual people would be to try to understand asexuality and be patient with your partner.”

Acknowledge the diversity of the asexuality spectrum

There are no absolutes when it comes to the gender and sexuality spectrum, and asexuality is no different. Asexuality in itself is a wide spectrum, with the preferences of individuals varying from sex neutral to sex repulsed. When asked if asexual people should exclusively date within the asexuality spectrum, Mehra clarifies, “Asexual community is a diverse community and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to deal with them. In my opinion, asexual people should date whoever they want to. If they don't want to date anyone, that's okay too.”

Navigating physical intimacy with an asexual partner

How can asexual people navigate dating people who are inclined towards physical intimacy? She suggests that communication and mutual respect are key. “They can navigate dating heterosexual people if they are dating them by having mutual understanding and discussions, but that doesn't mean that only the asexual partner is adjusting to the relationship. If you are dating an asexual person, remember to be respectful of the way you will be with them. Do not force them to have sex or coerce them emotionally., In the case of sex-repulsed asexual person, be sensitive to their feelings and orientation.” explains Mehra.

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