Any relationship can have its up and downs, be fantastic, exciting and supportive and at the same time stressful, confusing and unpredictable. Relationships within the LGBTQ+ community can have a wealth of extra complications too, not least in how exactly you're supposed to find one.
Below are a few bits of advice we’ve found to work in different relationships across a few pages, but *spoiler alert* the one thing that will come up a lot is talk to each other. We really can't emphasise enough how important it is to communicate (we're not saying it's easy... just important!) It can absolutely feel scary to be vulnerable at times and everyone can get nervous about how their partner will react to stuff, but in the vast majority of circumstances, talking about things can make a massive difference for the better.
But let's start with a few thoughts around finding one of these relationships...
Gaydars and other myths
So you’re really into that “certain person” but are they LGBTQ+?? And why do we all end up falling for that one person that isn’t??
Aching over whether someone feels the same way as you is something everyone has gone through, but if you’re trying to suss out someone’s sexuality as well that can be even more confusing.
A lot of people talk about having a “gaydar” and being able to tell if someone’s gay, straight, pan, bi, and so on. You could say that really it's people being sensitive to mannerisms, throw away remarks and tell tale signs, many of which are quite stereotypical in nature, including whether that person deviates from "gender norms" - which really isn't helpful at all!
If you’re not out at the moment, or remember when you weren’t, you might have tried to drop hints here and there to suss out how people might react and sometimes it’s stuff like that that people who claim to have a “good gaydar” pick up on too.
Unfortunately we’re not going to give you a magic formula to work out if you’re crush is straight or not. Mostly because there isn’t one, and because people are unique and complicated! But we will give these tips…
- Working out if someone might be attracted to you is a lot easier, and probably far more useful, than trying to work out their sexuality. They might not have figured out their sexuality yet, but they’ll probably have an idea if they’re attracted to you. Avoid making them work out their sexuality before acknowledging how they feel about you.
- It can be easy to get lost playing detective when it comes to someone's sexuality, but always be respectful of that person and remember they're a whole person in addition to whatever their sexuality may or may not be. Oh and be careful your hopes don't turn into gossip and rumours about that person, that's not going to endear them to you at all...
- Chat to this person online or through messages if it helps. If you pop the question though, have something else to do (like play a game or eat some food or something!) don’t end up with nothing to do but stare at the phone screen waiting for their reply.
- Spend time with them before jumping right in with big questions. Not only will it make it easier to talk about your feelings, but you… uh… get to spend time with them. Kind of a win-win.
- If you’re not out to them, its could be an idea to start there. It might make other stuff easier to talk about. You could try watching something together than features some queer themes to introduce the conversation. If they don't chose that moment to come out to you too that's OK, maybe they're not LGBTQ+, maybe they're just not ready yet - either way it's really important to respect the place they're in.
- If you want to just ask them straight (no pun intended…) go for it! Just maybe don't do it in front of other people...
- If their sexuality isn't what you expected or they aren't attracted to you that's OK too. If sucks and is definitely a blow, but it doesn't have to reflect on you - it's just where they are. You're just as brilliant and unique as you ever were, with or without them.
So, how do you find dates in the LGBTQ+ world? It can feel like quite the challenge, especially if you’re under 18 and in a school or college with mostly non-LGBTQ+ people.
One option can be to join a LGBTQ+ youth group or society where you can meet more people. These tend to work loads better as ways of finding friends rather than partners, which is no bad thing; finding other queer friends can often be far more meaningful than trying to hunt down partners anyway. If you do join a club or group, then do prioritise making those friends first over turning the group into your personalised dating service! Find one near you or check out 42nd Street's own groups.
A lot of people try meeting people online. Most of the spaces and apps designed to do this are aimed at people over 18, but there are some great forums, chat boards and online groups to make friends out there too including Childline, LGBT Youth Scotland and Proud Trust
If you do use a dating app (and our obvious advice would be not to do so until you are over 18) it's important to do so safely, and to make sure you take care of yourself. Here's a few tips around that;
A lot of messages on “dating” apps aren’t about dating at all, they’re about sex and hook ups. Sometimes you might get messages that are pretty… “intense”! If someone doesn’t even start with a “hello” that’s really not a great sign, and if things start explicit, it’s probably only going to going to get more explicit as things go on. We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with sex, but you’re a person, not a piece of meat – don’t let people treat like you are one.
So, none of this is meant to scare anyone, but it’s just worth being smart about things when you can.
If you’re talking to someone online then keep in mind a few things:
- Only send messages within the app or site you're in (don't give out your personal number or social media ID the instant you run out of free messages)
- Be wary about photographs - it's quite easy to change your appearance to look anything from a little touched up to practically a different person altogether! (One way to make sure you are talking to who you think you are is to ask the person to send a photo doing a specific or unusual pose.)
- Don’t give out personal info (like your address or school) that could be used to find you IRL
- Resist the urge to send nudes! If you’re under 18 then you (and the person you're sending it to) can get in a lot of trouble for doing so and often the situation can get taken out of your hands (please head over to www.thinkyouknow.org.uk if this is something you're worried about). If you're over 18 it's worth remembering that once you've sent an image the person you send it to can do whatever they like with it (even if using a platform that supposedly deletes the image after like Snapchat) so perhaps be extra cautious around having anything that can identify you in the image.
If you do find someone online and want to meet in person, then be smart and safe about that too. Here are a few things to do if meeting someone for the first time:
- Meet somewhere public
- Always tell a trusted person where you’re going to be and what time you expect to be home
- Plan to have that trusted person ring or text you to give you an excuse to leave “unexpectedly” if you have to
- Tell a trusted person that you’ll text or ring them an certain intervals to say you’re alright
- Take a photo of who you’re meeting (do it as a casual selfie together if it helps) and send that photo to a trusted person
- Keep “location services” on on your phone
Cheesy right? Honestly though, it just always come down to this. What’s the point of putting a ton of energy into pretending to be something you’re not? Sure you might get that “special person”, but then what? Keep putting in that energy to be something you’re not for ever? Never really know if they like you for you or for “you”? What happens to them when they realise you pulled the wool over their eyes?
Be yourself! It’s so much easier! And you are brilliant - there isn't anyone like you and there are a ton of people who will appreciate that, even if you're not surrounded by them right now.