Disclaimer: While I decide to identify as queer because it is a label sans label (as my sexuality is fluid and not limited to an equal preference between the two genders), I recognize that it may have a negative connotation to others.
Since openly embracing my sexuality earlier in 2018, my life has been an uphill battle of dealing with a series of unwelcome change and new beginnings. It is likely due to all of these changes occurring in the span of a just a few months; I came out, graduated from college, moved back home with my parents, found a job, found a second job, and attempted to keep all of my personal relationships in balance.
Readjusting to life back at home was difficult as there was an immediate lack of freedom compared to my days away from college. On top of that I felt an intense sense of solitude despite the hustle and bustle of New York. I had my high school friends here, but we are all growing and branching out in different ways, and I wanted to meet more people like myself- queer and of color. People who shared similar struggles and journeys. Potential friends and partners who would create a community to which I belonged.
My initial step into finding a relationship (platonic and romantic) was the same as any millennial; dating apps. Tinder, Bumble and Hinge were tools that I loved, because when you are out and about you cannot easily tell someone’s sexuality from their physical appearance. The platforms allow an easy way to vocalize how you identify (if you choose to do so) and it facilitates connections that would never have occurred otherwise. Tinder and its’ large database of users has provided me with great experiences. I have had amazing chats over drinks with some dope people, been on fantastic dates including picnics and dance parties, and even found one of my current closest friends through the app. Yet at the same time, it has not always been a pleasant experience.
Using the word ‘queer’ in my Tinder bio has prompted men and women to ask me for a threesome-often their first message to me without a simple ‘hello’ in sight. I knew that I was not looking for casual sex like the majority of people on the app, and over time, I began to veer away as it seemed to get increasingly distant from what I was looking for.
These apps did, however, help me determine what I looking for in the dating scene and, in all honesty, it served as a confidence booster as I received attention from a wide spectrum of individuals. This reassurance in myself was the catalyst of my shift away from maintaining a digital presence and moving towards the physical. I still use my phone, but instead of slowly responding to messages on an app, I pressed follow on Instagram pages like Papi Juice, Drøme, and Spicy; collectives that centered around members of the queer community in New York. I stalked the pages of various artsy DJs that often performed at LGBTQ parties in order to find their next performances. I have never been a fan of parties and clubs, but it feels different when the events are made with queer POC in mind. The atmosphere is more intimate; the conversations seem genuine and people are less predatory, it’s more about finding community rather than finding a quick lay for the night.
Quick chats by the bar have turned into flurries of text messages about something we have in common. Multiple run-ins in different spaces have turned into GroupMe-based book clubs. These events have been the highlights of the past few months because these were the moments that illustrate my journey defining my sexuality and the moments that made me comfortable with myself. I have found friends, lovers, and family in these spaces, the type of joy that no app could truly create.
I recently deleted Tinder because I have no desire to receive disrespectful messages from arrogant men, or fall in love with women only to never receive a response (women-lovers, y’all know what I am talking about). However, joining the app was a necessary evil that aided me in taking my first step into the intimidating social scene that is the New York nightlife. Since I began this journey looking for a partner, I have realized that I have zero time to dedicate to someone else, as I am my own focus for the time being. Dating is not a current topic on my mind or something I want to pursue at the moment, but to others who are searching for that special someone, I have no solid piece of advice to share other than to be comfortable with yourself, before trying to be comfortable with others. And Tinder isn’t as horrible as you think it may be.