Building A Life In The Gay Community

Photo Courtesy of Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon,

Since I have come out, I’ve been putting myself out there a ton. I have been going to gay bars and dance parties and readings and happy hours and events. I have been on Tinder and Hinge and Her and OkCupid—because in addition to the fact that it is more or less required these days to have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat profiles, we also apparently need to find time to manage four different dating ones.

So I’m out there in the community, super active and energetic and excited to be there, but I have been having one very big problem: I am terrified to talk to girls. Every time I go out I think I’ll do it, but there are so many times when I just can’t. On the plus side, I have gotten very very good at making gay male best friends everywhere I go.

Now I love new friends, and I am grateful for the truly wonderful boys that I’ve met. But I’m starting to realize that if I ever want to date someone again, I may have to start actually talking to girls at these things.

I didn’t used to be afraid. When I was in the closet I had this safety net around me, this protective cloak that allowed me to get as close as I wanted to any girl without her thinking anything of it. It wasn’t scary to talk to anyone because no girl could reject me. There was nothing to reject me from. In her eyes—and in my denial-wrought mind—I was just making a new close friend.

My closeted feelings for girls almost always led to my becoming close friends with them very quickly. Now that I’m out and surrounding myself with girls who can actually reciprocate my feelings, I run in the opposite direction like a middle school kid with a crush.

Suddenly there is so much at stake. Suddenly when I approach someone I become vulnerable and have to put myself in a position to be turned down. Suddenly there are implications if I talk to someone. She knows I could be interested in her romantically, and she may or may not be interested in me at all. I could make a fool of myself. It could be awkward. I could run out of things to say. She could turn and walk away.

The first girl I dated gave me false expectations about how my love life would go now that I’m out. I met her within the first hour of one of the first gay events I ever attended, and then we dated for over a month. After we ended things I just assumed it’d be that easy again, but she turned out to be a bit of an anomaly. Meeting people is hard. Dating people is hard. I probably declare I’m giving up dating at least once a week.

I’m sure it’d be easier to find someone if I was less picky, but it would also be easier to find someone if I stopped exclusively speaking to guys when I go out. As I have become aware of this habit of mine, I’ve done my best to push myself to walk up to girls and give it a shot. Sometimes, I will meet some great girls and have a great evening. Other times, I will be turned away (well more like passive aggressively snuck away from because young people these days are terrified of all forms of direct confrontation). It isn’t so bad, though, I just return to having a great evening with my guy friends.

I do think it’ll happen when it happens though. My dad always says being lucky is about putting yourself in a position to be lucky, so even if I am not actively walking up to girl after girl, I am at least putting myself in the right environments and social circles to someday meet the right one. Being a part of the gay community is about so much more than dating someone, and I think it has been just as valuable for me to be out there connecting with all the different people I’ve spent time with.

Coming out was frustrating for a while because I was seeking instant gratification. I was out, ready, excited, and I wanted a big group of gay friends and a girlfriend to immediately fall into my lap. It can’t work that way. It takes time. I had to find the right places to go, and in many ways I am still gaining the confidence I need to meet the people I want to meet. I have been out for about eight months now, and I am finally starting to feel like I’m making good strides in becoming active in the gay community. I’m on sports teams, and I know which bars to go to and when. I’m finally at the point where I run into people I know at the different events and have people to text to go with me.

To me, those are no small victories, and I am sure the rest will follow. The solid group of friends will come, the confidence will come, the right girl will come.

Of course I wish I could just eliminate the awkward approaching of strangers in bars and fall for someone I happened to already know and feel comfortable with, but don’t we all? It is that accidental love that always seems the strongest to me, but then again, I am a bit of an idealist, and while I will keep hoping and believing and wishing that happens, I will also make sure to keep my feet on the ground and continue putting myself in a position to be lucky.

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