I grew up in a small, conservative town, so for the first 18 years of my life I was the only gay person I knew. Safe to say I’ve never really dated before. When I came to university and moved to a busy city, I suddenly met all kinds of people. I met my first lesbian friend. I kissed a girl on my course who I’d only known a week.
Suddenly the world seemed bright with possibility. Maybe it was possible for someone like me, someone who had always been… different, to have a shot at normal life experiences. Are you feeling some of this too?
Here’s my experience of dating at university. I hope it helps you get out there and meet people.
One great place to meet people is in gay bars. If your university is in a city there may be a few nearby. In Bristol, we have two popular ones: OMG and Queenshilling. Going to clubs like this is a fun way to let loose as well as meet some nice people (although, one time, my straight friend tried to set me up with every single girl in the club - it did not end well).
Flirting can be a very daunting thing, especially with the added fear that the person you’re hitting on might be straight, so at least that’s something you can worry about less in gay clubs. And even if you don’t like clubbing, many clubs have different events on, such as karaoke, so it’s always worth a try.
Nowadays, most universities have an LGBT+ society. This is probably one of the best ways to meet people. And if your university doesn’t have an LGBT+ society, why not set one up yourself? Chances are there are many like-minded people who would want to join.
Societies often have regular socials for you to attend, for example the society at my uni often has a café night where we talk and get to know each other over hot chocolate. This is a very relaxing, chilled way to engage with your community.
Online dating has become very popular in recent years. If you’re considering getting involved, take the time to research all the different platforms and find out which will work for you. I mainly use Tinder, which lets you select your gender and the gender(s) you are interested in. As a lesbian, my Tinder has quite a few straight couples looking for a threesome, but these can be quickly dismissed by swiping left.
When I first joined I was sceptical because I’d heard from friends that online dating can be hard for LGBT+ people due to limitations of the websites, but I’ve found it quite easy. You specify the age range, gender, and approximate locations of people you would be interested in and the app does the rest. It’s a stress-free way to connect with people and if (like me) you have anxiety, it can be a much-needed lifeline.
However, online dating does not come without its dangers. Never meet someone you don’t know alone. Always meet in a public place and let someone else know where you’re going to be and who with. You can’t be 100% sure the person you’re talking to is who they say they are, so take steps to protect yourself.
Lots of LGBT+ people feel they only start to really experience life when they reach adulthood, when we’re finally allowed to explore ourselves freely. As a result, we’re often not as well equipped to handle the dating world as our heterosexual friends are.
Is dating scary? Yeah of course it is. But the only way to meet people is to take a leap of faith, put yourself out there, and just have some fun.