Do not be taken aback when you see heterosexual people asking for a third wheel for a night or people fetishising your sexuality.
What you can do is simply ignore the profile or report it if the content is offensive, suggests Ravi Mittal, CEO, Quack Quack, an online dating app.
It has been a mere four years since India legalised homosexuality in 2018.
Post the verdict, we have seen some athletes, celebrities and famous people coming out and embracing their sexuality and gender.
It is a courageous feat, accepting your gender, your body and your sexuality and more so in a society that upholds tradition and conservatism.
It is a huge step to make in front of your family and relatives so this month of pride, we appreciate you for your bravery.
The way forward for the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual) community in India and queer people is riddled with hope.
In our experience, more and more people are opening up about their dating and sexual preferences.
Acceptance may not always be easy but if we have come so far as a country, we can only hope for a brighter future.
Since it is difficult to find someone who would openly accept their identity in today’s India, online dating is a safer choice for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.
It would give you more control over your identity and would act as a cover from your parents, friends and the society if you have not come out yet.
Here are some important tips for queer daters who may be new to the dating world.
Know where to start
A lot of dating apps in India give you the option to date people of your sex, of the opposite sex, both or transgender.
There are various apps that offer you the option to solely hook-up, date or have a relationship.
While you choose from the wide variety of these apps, specify your preferences.
To give you a little warning before you start navigating this world of dating, each app has a different set of users.
One may have more people looking for one-night stands whereas the other would have users favouring relationships or long-term dating over anything else.
Before you make an account, decide what you want and then proceed.
Deal with stereotypes and draw a line
It is not unknown or unheard of that people have stigmas, stereotypes and taboos associated with the LGBT community.
Many a time, people do not know what the alphabets stand for or even when they do, they take the members of the community as someone who is ‘easy’.
So, do not be taken aback when you see heterosexual people asking for a third wheel for a night or people fetishising your sexuality.
With the lack of awareness, these things are bound to happen.
What you can do is simply ignore the profile or report it if the content is offensive.
Another phenomenon that you might encounter is people wanting to explore their sexuality with the help of someone from the LGBT community.
If that does not bother you, go for it and let the person help understand what they are looking for.
If it does bother you, simply let them know that you are not into it.
Here’s what to do
You start your dating journey just like everyone else.
Although there will be some Dos and Don’ts for you, here are some basic steps everyone hopping on to the wagon of putting themselves on the market will go through:
A. Hang out to new places
Frequent hang out places such as bars and cafes that may be popular among members of the queer community.
Visiting a cool café and/or a bar is the best decision you can make for your dating life.
If you see someone there who comes as often there as you do, approach them and make a move.
You can start with something along the lines of “Hey! I see you come here often so I thought of talking to you” or “Hey! I see you ordering my favourite drink, are you a vodka fan too?”
If you are too shy to start the conversation, offer them a drink and let them approach you instead.
B. Ask a friend for help
If you have come out to a friend and do not mind confiding in them, ask them to be your wing man/woman.
Dating can be stressful and dating especially as a queer person where the places and the people you can be yourself with are limited.
Letting a friend choose for you will also make you see the red flags that you would have otherwise ignored.
It might also put you at ease knowing that a familiar face is standing by you if things go south.
C. In case of a blind date
If you are thinking of taking things forward with someone and meeting them in real life, consider video calling them first.
Even though they might not be very different from their photos, a person can be very different while texting and over a face to face chat.
This will also give you a sneak peek into what the actual date might be like.
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