Hello, Papa Bear!
I have emailed you in the past (under a different e-mail address), so I have decided to ask for your help with a dilemma that I am now facing.
Recently, I moved off to college (wa-hoo). I now attend a university located in a large city and am hoping to start dating soon. However, there are a few issues.
First, I'm gay, but I only realized it last November. Before then, when I thought I was straight, I had never once dated any girls or had the interest to do so, which I guess should have been a big sign that I was gay. Anyhow, due to my senior year of high school being almost halfway over, I decided that I wasn't going to date anyone, since I knew that I would be leaving soon, even though there wasn't anyone I was interested in during the rest of the year anyways. These events have resulted in me not having any experience with dating or knowledge about what to expect.
Second, because of my new environment, I don't know where to look for possible dates. I have considered two different possible venues (both of which have flaws, but I'll get to those in a moment): Grindr and my school's LGBT club.
I read an article some time ago, which was about the influences that Grindr has had on the gay community. The article (where I am unable to recall was located) also had an anecdote about someone meeting their husband through the app, which made me somewhat open to the idea of using it. Of course, there are some serious problems with this option. Obviously, Grindr is mostly used for trading pictures of penises and for meeting up to engage in casual sex, two things that do NOT interest me. Also, another item that puts a giant hole in this idea is the anecdote portion of the article, about the man finding his husband through the help of the app. As my Psychology textbook has pointed out several times, anecdotes are not the equivalent of evidence.
Attending the LGBT club seems like the most beneficial choice of the two options. I would be around other gay people and would be able to have a support network of other students that could sympathize with me. However, there are two issues that I have with this option. First, I don't consider myself an activist in any sort of way, so joining a club about equal rights for the sole purpose of finding a boyfriend seems rather backwards to me. Second, I'm afraid that, if I go to one meeting and don't like the club, I'll be pestered by the members for the rest of the year. This is a very big concern of mine because it has already happened with other clubs that I've inspected, resulting in awkward encounters on the street, where I've been forced to explain why I didn't join the club. Understandably, I would like to keep these occurrences to a minimum, which is why it's one of the reasons this option seems rather terrifying.
Due to my lack of dating experience, I am unable to come up with anymore possible ways to begin. I also cannot pick between the two options that I have given you. What is a good place to start dating?
Thanks for everything!
Anonymous (New York)
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I understand your trepidation about websites and also joining an LGBT club at school. Just to add to the mix, you didn’t mention going to gay bars. You’re in New York City, which has a vibrant gay population (I’m sure you’ve heard of Greenwich Village by now), but that can also be risky. I don’t want to sound overdramatic, but there have been cases of gay people being beaten up or even murdered if they get lured in by the wrong people. Given your inexperience, you are wise to be cautious.
Two options I’d suggest for you are finding a social club in your area (not an activist club, but a social club) and also there are a couple sites you can check out that aren’t about hook ups (note: while sites like Gay.com and Grindr often are filled with guys trolling for sex, it is possible to find genuine relationships in them. Check out people’s profiles and see if they are seeking an LTR (long-term relationship), and that’s a pretty good clue). Also, if their profile has lots of G-rated picks and no lessons in anatomy for a sex education class, you’re probably safer with them, too.
Anyway, try checking out New York area LGBT meetups at http://lgbtfriends.meetup.com/cities/us/ny/new_york/ for a list of social groups. Fortunately (again, because you’re in The Big Apple) there is a lovely thing called the subway system that can make travel so much easier for you than people like me who are stuck in the desert or some boondock town).
Second, there are a couple of dating sites that actually are about matching couples and not seeing whose penis is bigger. Try OKCupid, which is a free site that allows LGBT people to be listed. A lot of people don’t know, too, that Match.com includes thousands of LGBT, too. Finally, there is Craigslist. This isn’t my first choice, but actually, if you go to the Men Seeking Men (vs. Casual Encounters) page and search on LTR, you might locate some people (you’ll have to still sift through a lot of crap, though, so use this option only if the others aren’t working.)
Another site that was just brought to my attention is quite interesting: Karma: The Game of Destiny. This one is still in the testing stage, but it has a unique premise: it is both a game and a dating site. According to the website:
In the game users begin their journey by selecting an avatar that best expresses their personality. Next the Karma Guru (the Game's Artificial Intelligence) presents three different paths. Users choose values, compatibility or intimate preferences as their primary interest. From this point players may opt to enter directly into game with their avatars or they can fill out their Journey Book to narrow their search to other players most likely to be a soulmate. In the JourneyBook daters can customize over 350 different characteristics regarding their dating preferences and interests. The game always challenges you to define who you are, to know yourself and to be as honest as you can be!
There’s a small fee for playing. You can sign up now, but, again, I think it is in beta testing right now. Cool idea, though.
Perhaps some of these options will help you. Good luck! And don’t forget, you’re in school to study ;-) Congrats on making it to college!
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