Relationships are weird. Am I right, or am I right? There’s levels of intimacy, defining the relationship, planning quality time and a slew of other things. Navigating the dating scene can be a tricky thing for most people, but being a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community presents a whole new set of problems.
Think of it like this: you’re a single jawbreaker in a big box of other jawbreakers. You’re all different colors, but that’s not what’s important. You need to find someone with an inside color that’s the same, or similar, to yours. Now while most other jawbreakers are green inside, you’re orange, and you have no way of knowing who else is orange-ish. As a member of the LGBTQ community, you have to specifically seek out other people who have a similar orientation to you. It’s not as simple as, “Hey, I’m a girl. There’s a cute guy. I’m going to hit on him.” Oh no, because in reality, you have absolutely no idea about another person’s sexual orientation until you ask. This means some awkward encounters are inevitable, more so perhaps than in the straight dating scene.
Congratulations, you have found a person who thinks you are mutually attractive. You come to find you are both LGBTQ. What kind of flirting do LGBTQ people do? The same as straight people. I hear a common misconception, assuming that gay flirting is some sort of foreign thing. It’s not. It’s just flirting; awkward, cute, mutual flirting.
Once you are an LGBTQ person in a stable relationship, yet more problems arise. Let’s assume you are bisexual, and your partner is straight. If a non-monosexual person is in a relationship, it does not mean they “finally picked one over the other.” It means they found a meaningful relationship. That’s it. In addition to non-monosexual-specific problems, being in an LGBTQ relationship can mean a change in dynamics at your workplace, in your social life and with friends and family. It is one thing to be “out,” but quite another to be in a stable relationship with another LGBTQ person.
Before I came to Colgate, if I saw a gay couple, I would by no means be against them, but I would take notice. It just seemed different. I think I was more intrigued than anything, being that I was raised in conservative central Ohio. After coming to Colgate, and being exposed to many more LGBTQ ideas and issues, I barely look twice at a gay couple. It is so much more expected now. Oh sure, I still have days when I revert back to the thinking around which I was raised, but I’m improving. I think that’s a hard thing to do, challenging the ideas you grew up with. I applaud all of you who have worked on this, whether within LGBTQ issues or otherwise, and hopefully even more of the Colgate community will try to do the same.
All in all, relationships are just relationships. They’re awkward and cute and fun and annoying, no matter if you’re dating a man, woman, gender-fluid person or otherwise. And while LGBTQ people do have some unique obstacles, straight and gay relationships are really more similar than they are different.