Words || Nikita Jones
So I think my fellow editors may have been hinting at something when they suggested this. Well I don’t need them and their stupid loving relationships, PSSH! It’s not like I haven’t tried to find love… and then immediately given up.
When I came out as bisexual, I figured that I had expanded my romantic options by at least 50 per cent. I’ve never been more wrong, and I used to believe I was straight.
As a young gay moving into the city, movies and TV shows like The L-Word and Pride had set me up with unrealistic expectations. I had been prepared for a tight-knit LGBTQI+ community, an engaging social sphere and nightlife full of people with similar interests in the similar sex. The reality of Oxford street and Newtown was pretty underwhelming. On the bright side, this new era of open gay bars and open-minded regular bars reflects the attitude shifts that have led to LGBTQI+ people feeling less and less persecuted in the 21st century. On less bright-side, WHERE ARE ALL THE GAY WOMEN?
As it turns out, plenty of straight women wear Doc Martens and boyfriend jeans meanwhile gay girls are flouncing about in delicate floral. The fashion trends which once set us apart for recognition in a sea of heteronormativity have gotten as confused as I was when I was 17.
The impacts of technology and the internet on the gay community also deserves a mention here. In the absence of tight networks and clear-cut fashion stereotypes, the gay scene has moved online, and with it gay spaces are disappearing. Small bookshops once used as LGBT meeting places are pretty much obsolete and speciality clubs and bars are disappearing from city streets at a rapid rate (although I’m pretty sure we can blame Mike Baird for that one). In their place we got Tinder (also Grindr and Her depending on your preference).
As a bisexual woman on Tinder I have experienced literally everything bad about the online dating platform. On the straight side, you’ve got men going from ‘hey’ to propositioning sex in the next line, random naked pics tucked into the middle of profiles, and BDSM dudes looking for someone to call them ‘daddy’ right out of the gate. On the gay side, you’ve got couples looking for a third to ‘spice things up’, straight men looking to ‘turn’ a lesbian, and straight girls looking for ‘friendship only’ on a dating app. It’s a fucking minefield out there.
Although I hate Tinder, the idea of speed dating was definitely no more welcoming. Like most young people, my go-to word association for ‘speed-dating’ is ‘sad virgin’. It’s the kind of shit Miranda does in Sex and the City, or Kim from Kath and Kim. It’s even a scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. We looked into the straight speed dating first, and oh boy, did some of them look seedy. For every single straight speed-dating event I could find, the age
requirements were “Women: 21-35, Men: 26-40”, and many of them were for ‘professionals’ or ‘elite singles’. Because I think this challenge was more about kick-starting my love life than actually traumatising me, we went straight for the gay one.
Dear Pluto holds monthly speed dating events for lesbian, gay, and bisexual young people. They hold them at a snazzy wine bar in Redfern and they run pretty much like what you’ve seen in movies – you stick on a nametag and go on 20 dates which last for about 8 minutes each. At the end, you circle who you want to see again and if it’s a match… bada-bing bada-boom.
The only thing missing from this pop culture experience was the endless stream of desperate weirdos. Oh, I mean sure, I did meet a woman who told me she spiritually identified as a wolf but she was kinda funny actually, and then 8 minutes later I met a professional video editor who dished out some pretty solid career advice and invited me to a monthly networking event. I also met Liz (not her real name, I’m no creep), one of the most gorgeous, funny, engaging women I’ve ever met. She walked me to the station and we went on a date the next week.
The air of desperation I had been expecting was all but nil. Everyone at that speed-dating event was a just a normal human being, sick of having to slog through dating apps and confusing gay bars. All this signalled to me – bar the fact that yes, guys, I should definitely put myself out there more – is that gay people are starved for gay spaces. The mass appeal of the online sphere is fading, DOWN WITH TINDER!