In a dating world that primarily caters to cisgender, heterosexual individuals, queer people of all denominations are often forced to put in extra effort to find a candidate worthy of a relationship. This often means that dating websites such as Plenty of Fish and OkCupid or apps like Grindr and Scruff are the most common ways of finding a partner.
In this digital age, online dating—whether on an app or a website—has been mostly deemed socially acceptable. For a gay, bisexual, transgender, or curious person, it offers an accessible conduit for trying to find your place in the community.
The city of Victoria does not offer a central gay district that larger cities such as Vancouver provide which can help to bring gay and queer people of the city together. Besides smaller establishments such as Paparazzi nightclub, the UVic Pride Collective, and the Victoria Pride Society, the city’s main way of bringing together gay and queer people is through online dating.
Dylan Adams, a third-year Geography student at UVic, has been using online dating since he was 17, and recently met his boyfriend on Grindr.
“I think I used Grindr so much because it was so accessible. It’s like, if you can check your email then you can check Grindr,” Adams said.
Grindr was launched in 2009 and runs on most Android and iOS devices. The app allows the user to view a grid of tiles, customized by geographical proximity. Grindr gives the user one chance to catch another user’s eye—a picture that serves as your tile’s background, and a few statistics such as your height, weight, and ethnicity.
The app quickly became an outlet for no-strings-attached, one-off hookups. “There’s such a forward focus on hooking up, that it’s not taken seriously if you want anything else,” he said. “Like, let’s not fuck on the first date, let’s get a coffee and build something out of it.”
Others turn to websites such as Plenty of Fish or OkCupid, which give users the option to filter out the members looking for a relationship or casual dates, and match users by personality. However, the options are more limited than the competing Grindr app.
In the heterosexual world, the probability of meeting someone worth dating is much more simple. Dating websites and apps such as Tinder may potentially hold thousands of users, and every club and bar presents an opportunity to meet someone new. Others will meet at the grocery store, in class, at parties, on the bus, or even by ordering the same drink at Starbucks.
“You definitely get disillusioned with the sense that ‘oh, that was probably very easy for you,’” Adams said. “Love is different in every way, but you can essentially go and hook up with someone at any club if you’re [heterosexual], moderately attractive, and decent.”
In their everyday life, straight couples often surround gay and queer people, and the sense of disillusionment can become overwhelming for an individual that is still establishing their own sexuality. Once someone who is queer matures and grows to understand how media and the world portray heterosexuality, it becomes more tolerable, but remains a discouraging obstacle for someone still looking for a significant other.
Tinder, an app very similar to Grindr, was created in 2012 and primarily targets heterosexuals. Unlike Grindr, users register by using their Facebook photos and interests. MacLean’s recently published an article on Tinder culture, saying “you’re matched with thousands of singles in your area,” which is simply impossible for queer daters in Victoria.
“For preaching that it’s so open, it’s not really in a lot of ways. I feel that meeting someone is not as common as everyone would consider,” Adams said.
The heterosexual community, on a broad scale, has the potential to date roughly half of the planet, broken down by further criteria from there. The queer community has to narrow down their focus to a portion of the population, which is then separated into different categories of sexual preferences and of course physical and personal qualities.
Identifying who is the “bottom” or “top” in a gay sexual relationship quickly establishes the connection. Although many gay men are open to both, some stand by their preference and tailor their relationships based on that sexual position. In turn, the choices for gay men may become more limited.
“I’ve been to parties where someone will be like, ‘Hey, have you seen this one other gay person who’s here?’ and I’ll be like, ‘Yes, he’s dancing to Applause, how do I not notice that?’”
“There’s this assumption that because you’re gay, you have such limited options that people need to help you,” he said.
Disillusionment with the gay dating scene in Victoria aside, when it comes to meeting that special person, it can be a gratifying and wonderful experience. Until then, the thirst is real.